A couple times a year I volunteer at Whitworth doing a few things with the education department. One of my favorites is the parent panel. Education students get together with parents and siblings of people with disabilities and we have a conversation. The parents introduce their families and explain a little about their journey so far and then the students ask questions.
The latest parent panel was just last Thursday. I really enjoyed this group of parents and students. The students asked thoughtful, direct questions that broke dams of heart-felt responses from the parents. It may have been a little overwhelming for the students, many of them have not been exposed to this different culture of living life with people who have special needs.
I saw a statistic one time that said "97% of people with Down Syndrome like who they are." It's definitely true for Claire. Claire has an great self-image. She doesn't waist her time being jealous, complaining about things that are different about her or comparing herself to other people. Yes, when things are hard she gets frustrated but she isn't internalizing it. She genuinely loves her life and who she is. Claire, on a good day (because I don't want to over generalize, EVERYONE has bad days) can live life to the fullest more then I ever have. She quite literally "dances like no one is watching." Yesterday at school pick up she was teaching her 2nd grade teacher, Makenna's Kindergarden teacher and their principle "twist, twist, twist, mashed potato, mambo." (Claire LOVES musicals, extra points if you know what musical that is from) She knows deep down that she is awesome! What a gift, it's like a self-esteem super power actually. Wouldn't you want that for your child? Just watch a youtube video of people with DS dancing, so unhindered, so beautiful. I aspire to live life with that much joy. Seriusly, here is a link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HFAZxaeEJI and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z29K7HRxwA0
I'm not saying people with Down Syndrome are always happy, if you know Claire you know that is not true. Claire intensely experienced a full range of emotions but at the end of the day she deeply loves herself, her friends, her family, her teachers... in love Claire is truly gifted.