We went on a little shopping trip today. I needed to get Mikey a booster seat as he is getting too tall for the car seat he has been in since his first birthday. He also was in severe need of a haircut and so we piled into the car after lunch and headed in to the "big" city. Mikey in the mall is always such a hoot. Today he found a store front that had been closed down that had windows with paper on them along the front of the store. Mikey noticed immediately what a wonderful mirror these windows made and began his Barney/Wiggle/Tubbie dance sequence while watching himself in the window. He loves to see himself dance and when he signs I'm now really starting to recognize quite a few of the words that are in there. He was having so much fun and we really had no where to go so I let him enjoy and sat back and watched while people raced through the mall. It was interesting to watch their pacing as they noticed Mikey. Things slowed down for them, many of their faces errupted in smiles and you could literally see their shoulders falling down into a bit more of a relaxed stance. Some even stopped to watch. Moments like this capture the magic that is Mikey so very vividly.
We have had many mall moments through the years... lots of them are related to him stopping when he finds something that amuses him and just enjoys it with all his sole. There was a dancing Santa with a push button to make it work - not only did the button need to be pushed but the dance that Santa was dancing needed to be immitated over and over again. That time he even had some people stop and try to do the dance with him! There was a time that he walked by a flower shop and there were flowers out and he needed to get his face in the middle of them and really smell them... there was no holding back in his response. The toy isles of stores when he walks around like he has never seen a toy before saying "WOOOOOWWWWWW!!! Woooooooook! Woooooooook!" and pointing to every little thing he sees. He has such a pure little heart - just "wooking" at the toys seems to be enough of a treat. There is one store we go to where there is a lady that works that that he completely adores... she always lets him "help" her unpack some of the clothes that are stored in the back. He loves to help. Its always an adventure and, of course, it brings back a story that is so very special to me.
I don't know exactly when but I know it was just shortly after Mikey had started walking. He loved the wide open spaces of the mall hallways to show of his newfound freedom. When he was walking around all you could see coming at you was the huge very proud smile with legs coming at you. He loved it and would often even giggle while doing it! He often caught people's eyes and so I had gotten used to people watching him... but that day there was a couple that just wasn't watching him the same way. They seemed to show up several times looking at him and I noticed on more then one occasion them whispering and pointing. They were not smiling and feeling his joy the way others were. I began to get very uncomfortable with it all and at one point I wanted so much to go up to them and give them a piece of my mind. I didn't but we did leave the mall early that day because I was just so hurt by the way they were looking at my son. I was sure they were disgusted by him and it broke my heart because I knew that sometime he would face people like this :(.
A few days later I had lunch with Mikey's development worker. We had forged a friendship and got together outside of just the regularly scheduled stuff for Mikey. This was one of those times that was a friendship thing and not a parent/worker thing. But... conversation would often turn to special needs issues at some point. Part way through the meal she starts in with this story she has to tell me and she can't believe she forgot until then. She starts by asking me if Mikey and were in the mall a couple of days earlier and I tell them we were. It happens to the same day as this whole thing played out. So she tells her story...
Apparently she had been called in to talk to this couple who had just found out prenatally that their child will have Down syndrome. The parents have only a couple of weeks to make their *choice* (that is a whole other entry that I will do when I'm in the right mood - lol) as to where to go from there. The development worker set up a meeting with them - they had met the day before we had lunch. In the time between set up and meeting they did some research and one day to get away from it all they took a trip to the mall.
Apparently there they saw a little Chinese boy who they thought might have Down syndrome and they followed him around trying to decide if he did or didn't. They at first thought there was no way that he could because they didn't think that children with Down syndrome could walk and here was this little guy walking around. They were even more sure that this little boy could not have Down syndrome when they saw him signing and interacting with other people and they thought people with Down syndrome couldn't communicate. But still - he looked like he did and they followed this little boy around. They wanted to ask the lady that was with him if he had Down syndrome but they were afraid to offend if he didn't. And so they just watched and then the little boy and the lady left and that was that.
The next day this couple met with our development worker and the first they asked about was that little boy and if it was possible that he had Down syndrome. They were amazed when the worker said that she thought she knew who that little boy was and that he did indeed have Down syndrome. This couple told the development worker that until they went to the mall and saw that little boy they had pretty much made up their minds to terminate their pregnancy but after that experience they started looking at continuing. And so the conversation went on...
They did end up carrying to term and having their child and every once in a while our worker gives me a little update on how they are doing. It amazes me how we were there and they were there and I'm ever so thankful I didn't go up and say something rude that day. It has made me less paranoid when I find people staring as I know its not always staring in disgust. Guess we all learned something that day - well except Mikey cause I'm figuring he knew it all before that day started!