I am the parent of a wonderful young woman who happens to have Down syndrome. Way back when she was born and we were presented with the news of 'bad things to come' I sort of shrugged and walked away (at least in my head) from that mean doctor who didn't, obviously, know anything.
Turns out that I was pretty right at the time. And now, after years of growth, learning and experience, I find that even ... I don't, obviously, know everything.
The good news is, it isn't just me ... it's mother's of her friends and close friends of mine and what is the old saying, "misery loves company". Well, for me (and yes, for us) it's more about joyful moments and experiencing life in a different way.
Well. I'll relate a little story here about a friend's son ... and it's really quite ... well, you be the judge.
Let's call him Special, for obvious reasons, and let's not use his real name, for other obvious reasons. I will tell you this ... he's a sweetheart and a good kid.
Recently his parents allowed him to get a debit card for his checking account. Emily has had one for a number of years, more because it came automatically than for any real thought about obtaining one. But at Special's house and in his life this was a big deal.
In fact, it was such a milestone moment for him that every time someone he hadn't seen in a while came by for a visit ... he would stop what he was doing, pull out his billfold and say, "hey, Kathy, look! I got a debit card!" holding it up for all to see and congratulate him on his very good fortune!
Special was instructed in its use and told to use it wisely, but as all parents of special children know, you really have to dot the I-s and cross those T-s. Because if you don't, something is bound to happen.
Special has been allowed to walk home from school for the last few months of the year, at his request, and his parents trepidation. However, he has mastered the art of arriving where he should be on time and if he leaves a note or lets someone in the house know where he is going, he is allowed to walk to the park around the corner or to the corner store, around the other corner.
One day he went off to the corner store and shortly after arriving home, he asked to speak to his mother in private. Hm. That can't be good. They sat down together and he pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and put them on the table. "Mom, I bought cigarettes."
What's a mother to say? He's of legal age to purchase ... but does he smoke? Has he smoked? Turns out that, no he has not, but he thought another member of the family could use the cigarettes. His mom explained to him that he shouldn't buy cigarettes, because that other family member could do it themselves and reminded him that he knows cigarettes aren't good for him.
Having straightened that out, she did what all good mothers do ... she headed to the corner store to speak with the clerk there and hopefully, finish dotting the I-s and crossing the T-s.
Ms Clerk was happy to oblige in that she will not sell cigarettes to Special, even though he is of legal age, because, one, his mother nicely asked and two, she worries about Special too. As a matter of fact, she herself had spoken to Special about buying cigarettes. She told mom that she would speak to the other clerks, and by the way, are you aware that ...
... the other kids, the underage kids, are asking him to buy cigarettes for them?
Uh. No. So mom heads home to have another sit down with Special and explains that although he is old enough to purchase cigarettes, the younger kids are not old enough to legally purchase or smoke them and that although it's not likely, he certainly could get into trouble if he were to be found buying for them. And, if you keep buying expensive cigarettes there won't be any money in your account for you to spend!
He understands as well as he can but he wonders, "what do I do if they ask?"
Tell them to ask their mother to buy cigarettes for them.