"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.