Tonawanda News — While she was watching him, I surreptitiously watched her. I wondered what she was thinking. I wondered what she knew, what she’d like to know. Maybe she was watching because she knew someone else with Down Syndrome. Maybe she didn’t, and she was wondering why he’s different.
(Or maybe she just thought he was cute. It wouldn’t be the first time.)
I wanted to tell her that it was OK. She could ask. We wouldn’t mind. But I didn’t know what her parents would think of that, or any conversation they might already have had, so I just smiled a little and returned to talking to Jimmy about fire trucks and milkshakes (two of his favorite things).
It’ll be a few weeks later when these words see print, but as I write this, it’s World Down Syndrome Day. It’s the second year the event has been officially observed by the United Nations, as part of a global awareness effort by Down Syndrome International and all of us who love and respect someone who has it.
The campaign is great, but people with Down Syndrome as more than that diagnosis. They’re artists, athletes, students, writers ... children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins ... friends.
I keep thinking about that little girl. I wonder what she thought, what I would have told her. Or what I would have told her parents.
Maybe that — as far as I’m concerned, anyway — it’s OK to look. I don’t mind. Neither does Jimmy. But when you do, remember that he’s more than a kid who looks, maybe acts, a little different, or at a slightly different level than his peers. He’s a son, a grandson, a nephew, a brother. He can be horribly charming, typically impish and annoyingly bratty.
In short, he’s a kid.
Not so different from any other, no matter what he looks like.
Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at email@example.com.Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.