Any parent of a child with Down syndrome – or anyone who knows someone with Down syndrome – will tell you that person is a precious gift. While there may be some unique challenges that come with raising a child with Down syndrome, there are also constant rewards and joyous surprises.
Sherry Clair knows this firsthand – her 2-year-old son, Gabe, has Down syndrome. While some people might look at him and see him as “different,” Sherry says she sees more of his similarities than his differences.
“Sometimes I forget that our son has Down syndrome,” she wrote. “It’s easy to be distracted by his 2-year-old tantrums, his mischievous smile and go-getter attitude.
“Gabe is kindhearted but stubborn. He immediately runs to check on his sister when she’s having a dramatic, I’m-4-and-the-world-is-over meltdown. He will climb onto your lap randomly and stretch his little fingers up to stroke your cheek, just to say, ‘I love you.’
“He also destroys things. Opens drawers, pulls things out, throws them on floor. When you confront him, he ducks his head and looks up from under his eyebrows with a sort of sorry smirk. He helps pick up, sometimes, or wanders off to destroy something else.
“He loves music; he’ll start to dance the second he hears it. He absolutely cannot resist participating in a round of ‘Itsy Bitsy’ or ‘Twinkle Twinkle,’ no matter how upset he may have been seconds before. Gabe can make music from anything, even the fireworks during the Fourth of July celebration.
“Sometimes I forget, because Gabe is just that — Gabe. When I look at him I don’t see Down syndrome, I see my son, Abi’s brother — a sweet, willful, determined little boy.”
But while Sherry can look past Gabe’s differences and see the beautiful things that make him unique, sometimes other people can’t.
While on a recent shopping trip, Sherry was checking out when the cashier said something that left her cold.
“I bet you wish you had known before he came out,” the woman spat. “You know they have a test for that now…”
Sherry was appalled and heartbroken.
“Shock, horror, hurt and fury coursed through my body,” she recalled. “I considered jerking her over the register and beating her senseless. I looked her up and down; I could take her.”
Instead, she decided to use her humor and quick wit to teach this girl a lesson that I’m sure she will never forget:
“I know right?!’” she told the cashier. “It’s so much harder to get rid of them once they come out. Believe me I’ve tried…”