|Ella letting me know fish bore her..|
When I entered the play area there were 6 little ones on a play date with their moms. The kids were 1. typical developing kids 2. dressed as if the baby gap had just finished a fashion show and these were their models 3. running around like crazy 4. talking 5. younger than Ella.
Now, these 5 things might not seem like a big deal to most people but to me, they set off my "Down syndrome Mommy radar". Well - maybe not #2, that set off my "Stop shopping at target and dress this adorable kid cuter radar" - but the other things made me sad - a right away sad. And then, feeling sad made me feel angry because Ella is a perfectly fine little girl developing along a normal scale for her so why the hell am I sad that she isn't like these kids? I tried to brush it off and enjoy that Ella finally wasn't screaming and Mike got to look at his spotted puffer fish in peace, but then - this happened.
Mom #1 to me "How old is your daughter?" Me - after a way to long pause that might have made it appear that I recently kidnapped her and don't really know her birth date - "Umm she is (insert mumble) 20 months." Mom #1 - "Oh, well, Oh, she's cute for her age". Me - "Yeah, she sure is."
Mom #1 then leaves the pirate ship Ella had overtaken and went back to her mommy friends. Mom #2 then comes over, tells me how cute Ella is and then tells me her 30 lb talking, running, apparently able to add and subtract and keep a hat on his head child is also 20 months. She asked when Ella was born and if we were from Charleston. She kept staring at Ella, she kept trying to get her son to interact with her.
Now - this is where any other mom would probably have said - She was born on February 16th AND she has Down syndrome. Thus eliminating all questions from the mommy group as to why my daughter didn't stack up to their 20 month olds.
I didn't say it. I don't know why. I just said her birthday was in February and we were from Phoenix. I didn't leave the play area, but I did start to tear up. I am pretty sure the mom thought I was crazy. She went away, Ella kept playing and all was fine, but I wasn't.
I am in no way ashamed that Ella has Down syndrome. I am not afraid to tell people, I am not afraid to talk about it or show off the "markers" that make her - her. I seek out others who have kids with DS to talk to, to relate to, to learn from, but when it comes to moms of kids her age that don't have DS. I just don't feel comfortable around them.
I should have told her Ella had Down syndrome, I should of used it as a learning experience for both the moms group and me. I should have done a million things instead of feeling sad and then angry, but I didn't. I didn't want to tell this mom. I didn't want to discount Ella to them. I didn't want Ella to have a reason to be different. I wanted her to just be 20 months old and that's it..
Now, this is irrational at best, obviously the moms knew there was something that made her different. Telling them isn't discounting Ella, it is being honest and upfront and proud of my daughter. No matter what Ella is - she would still be 20 months old, so telling them wouldn't of changed that, it would of just clarified things. I just didn't want them to pity her or and this sounds horrible - be thankful their kids don't have Down syndrome. I didn't want the 3 moms to go back to their huddle and say - "I am so glad that isn't us.." Because if they really knew us and Ella they wouldn't say that but they don't know us so maybe they would say it.
I lost an opportunity to share about Down syndrome and Ella. I let my own insecurities get in the way. This was the first time I had really been in this situation and it was uncomfortable. I was caught up in watching the other kids walk and talk and run and use straws and I forgot that my little girl is just as amazing in her own ways and that those other little kids and their moms might have their own struggles and I just need to be me and let Ella be Ella and all will be OK..
Next time we are out and this happens, I won't react the same way. It's my promise to Ella.