Monday, April 13, 2009

Being 1 out of 800

"Is that Caden?" the young woman asked me, gushing all over my son without waiting for my reply. We were in line for a child's ride at Hershey Park and this fellow guest was passing by when she spotted us. She looked vaguely familiar but I couldn't place her. She knew my son from....where? Gymnastics, the hospital, pre-school? I couldn't make the connection but she seemed excited to recognize us and Caden was having fun hamming it up with her. Let him have her attention then.

I'm shocked at how often this recognition happens. One day last summer I had taken Caden to a theater and about five minutes into the movie he had a massive diaper explosion. The bathroom didn't have a diaper-changing table so we set up shop on the floor in front of the sinks. In walked another mother with her young son but being in the middle of a fantastic mess, I didn't look up. Then I heard the familiar question, "Is that Caden?" I couldn't believe it. Of all times to be spotted! "We had storytime at the library with you guys," she offered. I seemed to recall her face but her son had changed so much I didn't remember him. It had been 3 years since that 4 week infant reading program but she still knew my boy.

A woman even recognized us from our running route. It seems we pass her house when I attempt to push Caden in the jogging stroller (he's not getting any lighter). I have no memory of ever seeing this neighbor in her yard or even through a window. But here she was asking us to stop by on one of our runs for our children to play together.

This is the consequence of my child being 1 out of 800, which is the rate of live births of children with Down syndrome. The other 799 children may not be as easily distinguished as that singular child whether the exception is due to sex, ethnicity or a disability. Everyone remembers the little boy with Down syndrome at swimming lessons. All of our neighbors recall the little tiger with Down syndrome that came around trick-or-treating at Halloween. We may not know them, but they know us.

Rather, they all know Caden. I once visited our local pharmacy alone. I had been at least a weekly visitor for the last two years at this business and every visit had the pharmacy counter clearing out as the employees gathered around to hug my son. However on this particular visit they had no idea who I was without him at my side. Apparently they never really looked at me before, just my beautiful boy.

Sometimes it catches me off guard to have people I don't recognize speaking to Caden. But he is such a social butterfly and basks in his popularity. And it does give me pause to consider that we are always being watched when we are out. I'd like to think that after all these friendly greetings from strangers that we are opening eyes and hearts as we go about our day. If so, the credit is all Caden's. He was born ready to be an ambassador of good will.

1 comment:

Wendy P said...

Jessica - I loved this post! Just wanted you to know that you have an award on my blog. ;)