Monday, December 10, 2007


"Really?" he said, excited but unbelieving.

"Really," he said and meant it.

I'd seen them walking together as I waited outside the store, Joe in the long line up to pay for our purchases, me getting the time to just people watch. Dad was barely thirty, a good looking guy, his son - probably looking younger than his years as some kids with Down Syndrome do - would have been maybe 8, maybe 10. The kid wanted to go into the store, Dad didn't, so Dad suggested he go in on his own.

"Really," he said, excited but unbelieving. And then he tore off into the store. Dad leaned up against a post and watched his son browse. It was one of those stores that people flock to for Christmas, it's full of stuff masquarading as 'ideas'. Though Dad looked relaxed, he was watching carefully. Son, feeling the responsibility of freedom followed every rule that could have ever been made about shopping. Finally he was standing in front of a rack of Christmas cards and gently picking up cards to look at, his face flushed with independance.

Suddenly a whirlwind of activity. "Where is he?" she demanded, angry. Dad put a finger to his lips to shush her and then, with the same finger pointed into the store. Mom glanced over and saw him browsing the cards. "How could you let him go off alone like that?" she's really, really mad. Dad doesn't take the bait, "He's not alone, I'm right here, I can see every move he makes."

She turns to head into the store.

"Don't," he says, urgently, "he needs this."

She starts to cry, she's mad, she's frustrated, she's scared. Dad says,"He knows we love him, he needs to learn that we trust him too. He's a good boy. He deserves this. And besides, we're right here."

She flys into his arms and they embrace, for a second taking their eyes off him.

In that moment he looks up and sees them hugging each other, he smiles and waves, then turns ... probably to give them a moment's privacy.


rickismom said...

Yes, this is one of the hardest, yet most necessary things to do. One has to give the child your trust. And eventually you have to give him your trust even when out of sight. The misgivings are terrible. (Am I REALLY sure that he will tell a stranger "NO!" ?)
Yet, if we do not let them try things on their own, after being taught, there will come the day that they will try it on their own WITHOUT being taught. Which is much more dangerous.

And, by the way, I have consistantly seen that my daughter behaves better on her own than with me. She knows that there is no one to make it "right" if she goofs up.

Kei said...

Oh, yes... so very important, yet so very hard. Way to go Dad.

lilwatchergirl said...

I love it when you narrate these moments. It makes me want to look around a bit more - be less self-focused, more interested in the people around me. Thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

I think you're talking about our son six years from now. Thank you for that. *hugs*