Friday, August 14, 2015

Best. Response. Ever.

Had a wonderful moment the other day.

I went downtown Detroit to the riverwalk with my best friend, Ramie, and her kiddos.  We were sitting in the riverside cafe and Ramie took her two older kiddos over to ride the carousel while Benny, her newest arrival Carter, and I stayed back enjoying the view.

Before I continue, I'd like to give a little back thought.   You see, there's this absolutely 100% normal question that I get alllllll the time that leads to a slightly uncomfortable feeling.  The normal questions people ask when you have a baby can sometimes lead to an awkward encounter for Mamas who have a child with a little extra.  Here's an example conversation that I have with strangers multiple times every single week:

Stranger: Oh, what an adorable little boy!!!!  How old is he?

Me:  Thank You!  He's 2 (or whatever age he is at the time of these many convos)

The awkwardness inevitably starts to work its way in right here

Stranger with slight look of worry/shock on their face: OH....  Is he walking yet?

I'm assuming the slight look of worry/shock comes from Benny being slightly smaller than a "typical" two year old and the fact that he is just babbling and comes across much younger.

Me: No, he's not.  He has Down syndrome, so we get the pleasure of a stretched out timeframe of milestones.  (My canned response)

This is where it gets REALLY awkward.  The rest of the conversation is filled with "I'm sorry's" or variations thereof where I get to get on my high horse and state positively that this is nothing to be sorry for.  Sometimes, actually most of the time, there's no more conversation after this.  More often than not, the conversation will end right here with a smile and a "Good Day".  There's a few of the "You are so blessed" statements or the "I have a cousin/uncle/sibling/neighbor/etc with Downs".

These conversations, for the record, don't upset me at all in any way.  I don't mind them.  I look at the positive side of it, for the most part, and that is that my kid is so damn cute people have to go out of their way to strike up a conversation.  I don't even mind the responses because, if i'm being honest, how would I have responded pre-Benny?  Trust me, I've put my foot in my mouth enough times in my life to know that there are a lot of times we find ourselves in a conversation about something we simply don't know how to respond to.  To everyone out there, that's understandable and ok by me...not that my opinion matters all that much. :)

Ok, back to Benny, Carter, and I watching the rest of our crew on the carousel.  The lady next to me with her two kids and partner started the conversation.

Awesome Lady: He's so cute!  How old is he?

Me: He's two.  Just had a birthday last week.

Awesome Lady: Bless his heart!  Look at those blue eyes!  Oh Mama you gonna have your work cut out for you!!!

Me: (laughing) Yes I am!

Awesome Lady:  He walking yet?

Me: (Insert my own issues and my own awkwardness here...because none of it was coming from her) No,  he's not.  He has Down syndrome, so we get the pleasure of a stretched out timeframe of milestones.

Awesome Lady: I knew that right away.  I can tell, but that don't mean he ain't walking yet.  I don't care what disability a baby has, he gonna do things when he gonna do them.  And trust me, they all got disabilities in some way shape form or another.  Ain't no one perfect, but we all capable of anything.  My sister has Down syndrome and she taught me to assume nothing 'bout nobody. 

Me: (slightly choked up)  You're so right.  Thank You for that.

Awesome Lady: No need to thank me.  He's adorable!  (pinches Benny's cheek)  We (pointing to her partner) work with children with special needs.  They're no different than these little rats (gesturing to her kids).  You have a good day!

Me: You too.

They walked away right as Ramie was walking back with her kids after the carousel ride.

After a few days of reflection on that conversation, I wish that lady knew how much it meant to me.  It wasn't AT ALL what she said, which was awesome, but it was how she said it.  The whole "I knew that right away, I can tell,..." was a relief.  There was none of me guessing whether or not she already knew.  There was no awkwardness over my answers.  She was just matter of fact about it, and to be honest, kind of put me in my place a little over her question about him walking or not.

It was perfect, and if by chance you read this miss who was at the carousel on the Detroit Riverwalk last Wednesday, thank you for being so blunt.  It made a usually awkward conversation very easy for me, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

To anyone out there that's ever curious about Benny, or has a question, I invite you to just ask us.  Come right out with it.  I encourage curiosity and love to educate.

Perhaps, just perhaps, you can even make me take a step back and realize how much of my feelings are really just my own issues.  My Mama bear provoked insecurities about what people are thinking are probably way worse than the truth. 

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Would love to hear your thought, comments, advice, or emotional outbursts!

-xoxo Jamie