Monday, October 6, 2014

Dinner Helpers and Parenting

Often, having an eight year old with Down Syndrome is very entertaining.  Claire dresses up in silly outfits constantly.  She cranks the Pandora and rocks out like an "octopus girl" while we make dinner.  And sometimes I'm getting ready for church and smell nail polish... Ya, that happened yesterday, all 20 fingers and toes, my new beautiful hardwood floors, Claire's pants and shirt, her face... all hot pink.  Oh man, it's like she knows I'm writing a blog about her.  I don't need this kind of material babe. 

People ask me a lot "what is Claire like?  Like is it more like having a three year old or a Kindergartner?"  Well, Claire is like, Claire.  She isn't any typical age consistently and she isn't just like anyone we know who has Down Syndrome and we know a lot.  Come to think of it, they are not very much like each other come ether.  Makenna and I were watching the World Down Syndrome Day video (I posted it Saturday).  She knew right away "all these people have down syndrome, that means they all look similar."  Yep, the five year old has got it!  They all look similar but they are all very different, with their own personalities, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, family backgrounds...

Sometimes Claire is like a spunky 8 year old who wants to chat about her favorite movies and sometimes she is like a defiant, cranky toddler who wants to be left alone and those could both happen on the same day or in the same hour.  I don't want to get down on Claire though.  Every honest parent knows their kid is not perfect with or without Down Syndrome.  I know, I said it, sometimes all of my children are not very pleasant to be around, gasp, but I sill love them. 

Growing up is hard, for everyone.  Sometime I love Claire more for just telling it how it is.  For the most part raising a child with Down Syndrome is, well, raising a child.  Just take Down Syndrome out of it.  They all have to learn to be kind.  Yes my other children are often not kind.  All children learn to share, take turns, clean up after themselves, have responsibilities, eat healthy foods, go to school... the list could go on and on.  

Yes, parenting Claire has made us more intentional but I think that has been an advantage for everyone.  Kids are not cookie cutter in my experience (I'm going to pull the foster parent card here, we have taken care of a lot of children).  I have a tendency, maybe you do too, to just do what my parents did or do what worked for the last kid without thinking it through.  What is needed for this specific child to grow?  What are they seeking or avoiding with this behavior?  How might ________  form or discipline affect this child because of their history, personality, cognitive ability?  

This morning I think Claire's behavior was just telling me, I feel like pink nail polish and I'm willing to risk Mommy's consequence to get it. 

I'm so thankful for the honor of parenting our three unique, challenging, beautiful girls.  

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