It always happens. We pulled into the hotel after a gruelling 5 and a half hour flight. Not a soul in the lobby. I decided to hit the washroom before checking in and when I came out there was a group of 5 standing around checking in. They materialized out of thin air just to annoy me. I wasn't using my wheelchair so I went up to the desk and stood off to the side resting against the counter. I don't know what was going on because I came in the middle of it. But the father, along with wife and three daughters, was fumbling about. He'd made some kind of mistake with the reservation. The guy on the desk was helping them realize it wasn't a problem, that a rollaway bed could be put in the room and all would have a bed.
The wife and mother, was clearly grumpy (maybe she needed pie) and snapped at her husband. Suddenly there was a voice from the youngest of the group. "Mom, stop being mean to dad. He just made a mistake, you should be patient with him like you are with me when I make a mistake." She looked sheepish and apologized. We all smiled. The two other daughters glanced at each other, their eyes meeting knowingly. This had obviously happened before, often. I thought I heard the accent so I double checked and sure enough the youngest had Down Syndrome. I'd recognize that lilt anywhere.
Dad smiled at his wife and said, "You'd better listen to your daughter." Then the little girl turned on her dad, "Well, Dad, Mom's just mad cause you keep making mistakes. You never ask for help, so you keep making mistakes. I don't make a lot of mistakes cause I know when to ask for help." Mom looked vindicated and Dad looked put in his place. This kid had no lack of self esteem or assertiveness. She stood there looking at both of them like a frustrated parent.
"I guess, I've been told," Dad said looking at the clerk who was grinning now. Suddenly none of them seemed as tired and disgruntled as they were just moments before.
As he handed the key to his wife, he handed his credit card to the clerk. Mom and brood headed towards the elevator. Dad said, under his breath, "She was the best tough decision we ever made."
Tears sprung to my eyes. She was wanted. Expected. Decided upon. She survived.
And she clearly delivered.
I wonder who the family would have been without her. What the evening would have been like without her to give gentle but firm wisdom. To not take sides. To be a bridge over troubled water.
I wonder if that extra chromosome carries with it common sense and uncommon wisdom?
I wonder what they expected.
I wonder at what they got.