Excerpts from "About that exra chromosome..."
My son Jonathan has a little extra. A little extra enthusiasm, a little extra innocence, a little extra charm. Oh, and did I mention an extra chromosome? The one on the 21st pair that inspires so much fear in parents-to-be.
I suppose at one time I was fearful about Down syndrome. But in 1993 when they placed the blue-blanketed bundle in my arms and I could see he looked - well, just a little different - I actually felt a sense of awe. Here will be a challenge - so many things to learn.
It helped that we already had a few "normal" children. But other things had opened my heart as well. There was Amy, a six-year-old cutiepie we babysat for now and then. Amy's dad had left shortly after her birth - just couldn't get into having a daughter with Down syndrome. On the brighter side was the dad and daughter duo I'd seen a month before riding the merry-go-round. A gleeful almond-eyes three-year-old, a father helplessly in love. There's something special here, I thought.
My son Jonny, now 12, is a snappy dresser and an avid movie/Broadway buff, with a repertoire including songs from Phantom of the Opera, Annie, Bye, Bye Birdie and more. He loves people of all ages, but babies make him turn to mush. He has an uncanny way with animals. He loves school, but that doesn't keep him from loving the thrill of snow days more.
At home or school or church he is the first to offer help, to comfort someone who's down, and to laugh uproariously at the punch lines. His preschool teacher named him Ambassador of Goodwill. His public school kindergarten teacher, after 30plus years of teaching, said she'd never seen children as loving and caring as Jonny's classmates. The secret, she said, was Jonny. When he graduated from her class, she wrote us: "As the Bible says, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Jonny certainly taught the children and me to look at the heart; for he has a very big heart!"
He's been a gift I never would have thought to ask for, bringing lessons I never knew I needed to learn. The greatest surprise is this: Our life together has been less about my helping him reach his potential than about him helping me reach mine.
Read the whole thing at Mommy Life