It’s no secret that my great love for baby carriers leads my husband and I to use one nearly every time we are out of the house. We even found a rockin’ spring green performance Ergo that fits my very tall husband much better than our old ones.
When we are at stores and at church, we often get questions ranging from the judgmental (“How can they breathe in that thing?” and “All I can see is mom’s back, I want to see, mommy!”) to the promo ones (“What brand is that? Do you love it?”) to the circus gawkers (smiling, waving at our little ones, pointing out the baby to their own children). I actually don’t mind any of them. In every case, we’re changing folks’ ideas of normal ways to transport your kids.
This Sunday, on our monthly pilgrimage to Sam’s Club after mass, we happened to stop for lunch before shopping. Hoss was sleeping in the car, so we transfered him to Andy’s back without waking him, and went to the cafe. Andy ordered and found a table while I took the older three on a potty run.
On the way to the bathrooms, we passed a man who had Down Syndrome. I smiled, because I thought it would be rude to go and pepper him with questions. I counted it as a little victory to see a person who might be like my child some day, out and doing normal things. By the time we returned from the potty (nice remodel on the family bathroom, by the way, Sam’s Club), we were walking right behind his family. I noticed his Hooter’s shirt, and inwardly cringed just a little. Not because a man with DS was wearing a Hooter’s shirt, but because a man was wearing a Hooter’s shirt. I mean, come on, world.
We sat down and got the kids started on pizza, when a woman came over to Andy to ask how the baby could breathe in the Ergo…but oddly, not in the judgmental way. It was the mom of the man with DS. A put-together, snappy dressing kind of woman. She said her daughter had just had a new baby and they wanted to get her something she could really use. While she and Andy talked, I couldn’t resist. I turned to the man, and said hello. I told his mom, who was apologizing for interrupting us, that I had wanted to interrupt them, earlier. I told her about our plans to adopt a baby with DS. She was like “that’s wonderful” or something, and got back to talking to Andy.
I was offered a large, warm handshake, direct eye contact, and a smile. “My name is Jon,” he said, with nearly perfect speech. I introduced him to our kids, and he turned to each one and said hello, in the slight baby voice/over enthusiasm most kids in their late teens use with little kids. He told us it was his birthday today. He was 32. A year older than me. His mom chimed in and let us know he was living on his own, and they were just going out to Hooter’s, his favorite restauraunt (she said with the motherly tolerance she was mustering on their dining locale). She was hurrying him along, and said with a smile “Yours might be just as social as ours is, and you’ll have to push him along everywhere, too.” Jon went over to say goodbye to my little boy, and give him a big high-5.
We wished him happy birthday, and as they were leaving, his mom told us both “It hasn’t been easy, but I don’t have a day of regret.”
As they were walking away, I told the kids that our new baby might grow up to be a little like Jon, because he had Down Syndrome, too. Cal asked, “Mom, will our baby be different?” I asked her, “Well, was Mr. Jon different?”
She thought, and JR answered, “No.” Cal agreed.
“No, I told them, then our baby won’t be different either.”
God, I love the hints, but You’re being a little obvious.
Our peace is so complete, I put some in storage with the paper-towels and peanut butter.