Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Oct '08

Library Monday

Most Mondays I take Wes (plus a two-year-old that I babysit Monday mornings) to the local library for baby sing-and-sign time. This morning I got there early, got a parking place in the parking lot instead of on the street (yes! major accomplishment), got Wes and the two-year-old in and settled, and then found out that the teacher was ill and class was canceled. A lot of moms had turned out with their babies, so the children’s section of the library became an impromptu playgroup.

A friendly lady struck up conversation with me and we chatted for a long while. One of the first things she commented on was Wesley’s Down syndrome. She had a lot of positive things to say about it, which I always appreciate hearing. She thought his smile is so bright and lights up his whole face, and that he’s very loving and good natured.

It surprised me, though, that she knew he has Down syndrome. When others mention the Down syndrome I always wonder, “How can you tell?” I don’t normally tell people he has DS. It’s not the kind of thing you throw into introductions: “Hi, this is Wes, and he has Down syndrome.” Like it’s part of his name or something. But I guess it must be visually obvious and I just don’t realize it. To me, Wes is Wes. I see him everyday, all day, and he looks completely like Wesley. Completely normal.

Yet others can look at him and tag him as having DS (or, as a lot of people say, as being “Downs”). It’s kind of funny that people can look at you and categorize you instantly like that. I guess we do it all the time, to all sorts of people you see everywhere (“he’s angry” “she’s a businesswoman” “she’s pretty” “he’s handicapped”).

I just realized I did a tag of my own the other day when I was at a store and Wes wasn’t with me. I saw a mom, a dad, and their teenage son (who had Down syndrome) in the shoe department. In the first millisecond of spotting them I unconsciously tagged him as having DS, then tagged him as a teenager (he was complaining about how long his parents were taking), and then I tagged his parents as wonderful, loving people whom I admire for raising their son in spite of his challenges.

Judging has a negative connotation, but tagging seems more like “sizing up.” And as long as people mainly associate positive things with Down syndrome, I can’t mind other people noticing it in my own baby.

(Wesley’s Halloween costume)


2 Responses to “Library Monday”

  1. alicia Says:

    You always have such insightful and well written posts. I like the word “tagging”- it is much more positive. Honestly, there a lot of pictures that you post of Wesley and I wouldn’t know he has down syndrome if I didn’t already know that. Not that it matters. The first thing you see is his huge smiles and sparkly eyes!

  2. jamie Says:

    Oh, pictures of this little guy warm my heart. He is really so cute. I always think my baby is cuter than any other I see, you know because it’s just the mom disease. But there are probably about 4-6 other kids I’ve met that have made me think “Okay, well he/she could probably compete with Jacob’s cuteness”. Weley is definitely one of those cute kids.

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