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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How Others See Him

When I look at my son, I don't see a baby with Down syndrome. I see my son: a beautiful little boy with brown almond shaped eyes and long dark eyelashes. I see his silky brown hair, rosy round cheeks and a perfect nose. I see a huge bright smile form in a delicate little mouth with ten sharp teeth!! I see soft, chubby arms and yummy, chunky legs, a protruding belly button and a cute round belly. I see my sweet angel, my screaming monkey, my laughing clown. I see Miles, my awesome son. But I often wonder how other people see him. Like when a complete stranger looks at him, can they tell he has Down syndrome or not? I know he has the typical Ds features, but I don't notice them anymore. I just see him. So what do other people see?

Last week, Zach and I took our first little vacation without Miles. We were only gone for two days (two glorious, warm, relaxing days with tons of sleep), but I hadn't been apart from Miles for two days since last October. And although it's not a long time, when we got home and I saw him reaching out for us from his crib, I looked at him and saw it. I saw what I think other people see when they look at him.....a baby with Down syndrome. For the first time since we learned he has an extra chromosome, I saw that in him. It was such and odd feeling even though it only lasted for a few seconds, it grabbed hold of me strongly. I felt weird and uncomfortable and sad and happy. I felt everything in a flash. Just like that, it went away and there was my Miles, smiling his mischievous-happy smile that warms my heart. But the odd feeling stayed with me. Did I just experience how strangers and acquaintances see Miles? I always assume that those who know him well see him the way I do, but maybe they don't. How do they see him?
I mean, it's not like it matters one way or the other, it's just one of those questions I wonder about sometimes and lately, it's been on my mind.

I guess what tripped me up about the experience is that when I saw him, he really looked like has Down syndrome and I'm just not used to seeing that in him anymore. I'm not living on a cloud, I know my son looks "different". But it made me think about other people judging him for his appearance and not for who he is and that was scary. But that's also reality. People do it everyday to everyone and it's just part of living in our society. So Miles has an extra 21st chromosome and he looks like it. That's reality. Thank goodness that's not all I see in him because that's just one small part of who he is. The rest is so much more interesting and that's what I hope other people will be lucky enough to see in him.

When I look at Miles I see a little boy who loves coconut water, playing the drums and "reading" his books. I see a boy who's obsessed with lights, and fans and wall switches. A boy who points at everything and questions what it is. I see a baby who crawls at lightning speed every time he hears the refrigerator door open. A baby who cracks up when playing peek-a-boo and jumping on the bed. I see a little boy who stares me down, then with a twinkle in his eye, cracks that beautiful smile. That is Miles.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Loreni,

    A thought provoking post that calls to mind the adage, "You cannot judge a book by its cover."

    The human brain stores information into and pulls information from disparate locations, so at the first-level of function we quickly categorize and if that is as far as it goes then you jump to conclusions, which are often wrong.

    It is the being that synthesizes empathy and higher level reasoning that will appreciate and accept the differences in others.

    We are all informed by our genes, but it does not define us.

    Semper Fi,