Friday, May 16, 2008

The hunter becomes the hunted

Speaking of our day at the races (see the previous post), I had the rare but exciting opportunity of being stalked there. Usually when I see a person with Down syndrome, I can't help but be mesmerized. I catch myself staring but am unable to stop. If it's a younger person, I watch his developmental abilities, look for similarities with Caden. If it's an older person, I imagine him as Future Caden and examine all his behaviors and especially interactions if he's with family or friends. Caden isn't 3 yet so much of this child-rearing still feels new to me. With Down syndrome occuring once in every 800 births or so, whenever these encounters present themselves which certainly isn't every day or even every week, I want to study as much as possible. Until I'm noticed hiding behind the magazine rack and realize I've morphed into a stalker.

While watching the races, I noticed some stares, pressing eyes, people moving around to keep us in their line of sight. The Tank even whispered to me, "Those people behind us are overly interested in Caden." It did cross my mind that this is what I must look like when I spot someone with Down out and about. Maybe they also had someone in their family with Trisomy 21. Before long, a woman approached and was bubbling over with her connection to Caden: "I have a brother with Down syndrome and he is such a joy...." Ah ha! We were in fact being stalked. There's got to be an easier way to share that you're in "the family". We need to come up with a special handshake or tattoo or even a secret catchphrase so we can recognize each other. Then I could just say "The eagle has landed" instead of trying to pretend that I needed all the same groceries as the family of the cute girl with DS I recently spotted at the supermarket.

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