When the mother of a child with Down Syndrome was confronted about her son in the most insensitive way possible by a store cashier she reached inside herself and answered with more compassion than most could have mustered. Instead of lashing out at the woman, she stayed calm used her wit and knowledge to diffuse the ugly situation.
Here’s what the mom, Sherry, wrote in her blog, “Chronicles of Mommy,” in one of the most compassionate reactions to pure nastiness imaginable:
Sometimes I forget, and that makes it even harder when someone reminds me in a not so kind way….
Like the cashier that gave me sad eyes and spit poison in a whisper,
‘I bet you wish you had known before he came out. You know they have a test for that now…’
Shock, horror, hurt and fury coursed through my body. I considered jerking her over the register and beating her senseless. I looked her up and down, I could take her….
Instead I used wit: I smiled a crazy lady smile ‘I know right?! It’s so much harder to get rid of them once they come out. Believe ME I’ve tried…’ Jackpot! Her mouth dropped open and she stared at me in shock. I leaned over the register and whispered to her,
‘What you’re saying is that it’s okay for me to kill him while he’s inside, but not outside? In my book there isn’t a difference. For the record, we knew EVERYTHING about him during my pregnancy. He is our son now and he was our son then. There is no way in hell that I would let any harm come to either of my children. Including during the time that they’re so ridiculously considered disposable.’
I had forgotten, that sometimes other people don’t immediately see Gabe, they see a ‘downs kid’. They see poor parents and a burdened sister. I sometimes forget until I glance up and see the pity in their eye, or hear the ignorant comments in not so hushed whispers.
I sometimes forget that it’s not their fault. They just DON’T KNOW.
I sometimes forget that, that was me once too. What I knew about Down syndrome before we had Gabe, was what I’d learned from my nursing text books. It was only enough to leave me sobbing hysterically and envisioning a listless, immobile, incapable child.
Because I sometimes forget, is why months like October are so important to me. It gives our community a chance to spread awareness, to educate the public, to debunk the myths that are out there and show our children in a different light. It gives us a chance to move forward from just awareness to acceptance, so when were out in public and we are so taken by our children that we forget, that we aren’t reminded and shocked by the ignorance of others.
Sometimes It’s easy to forget that our kids have Down syndrome. To us their just Gabe or AJ or Gavin or Max or Maddie. And that’s how it should be, and will be, if we continue to bring awareness and fight for acceptance; not just in October, but every day of the year.
We haven’t heard any response from the store clerk about the incident, and we’re betting we never will. Maybe she will at least think before she opens her mouth about another woman’s beautiful child ever again.