Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Seer and the Seen

I saw a young man with Down Syndrome, maybe 8 years old. He was with both his mom and dad and they were having a good time. He was happy. I know those kinds of moments. I have them all the time. Moments of complete and utter inclusion, where disabilities and differences of all sorts just drop away. Lovely, lovely moments. He looked to be having one of those.

Then, out of the blue, two women, passersby, notice him and his family. They stop and stare at him. One is shaking her head while talking to the other. His parents don't notice, they are facing away from the two women. He, though, the boy, notices. He is yanked from the moment. Like someone lassoed his difference and pulled him from inclusion to display. Difference was what they looked at, difference was what they shook their heads at, difference was what stopped them in their tracks.

The boy? He looked completely unsurprised at their stare. He looked weary of it. He's only 8 and already he knows that look. He probably knows other ones as well. Ones of positive affirmation, ones that all children get. But this one, I know this one. Everyone who is valued differently, valued as less, knows it too.

He's too young to have the weight of that look on his shoulders.

He's too young to have to bear the burden of prejudice and bias and bigotry.

He's too young to have to do anything other that grow and learn and laugh and play.

I watched him helplessly.

Then I saw a twinkle in his eyes. He made a V sign with his forefinger and his middle finger and then he did the "I'm watching you" move by pointing that V at his eyes and then at the two women.

They were caught.

It was like a shock ran through them.

They must have thought he either wouldn't notice or wouldn't understand. With one single gesture he showed them that they had been seen, caught, and that he had completely comprehended their actions. They scurried away.

He glanced at me. I silently applauded him. He did the same thing to me, 'I'm watching you' ... but this time he was grinning.

So was I.

23 comments:

Connie said...

He sounds like a kid worth knowing.

Beth Gallagher said...

Oh I can just picture that scene. Love that kid. Love his playful yet cutting gest!

Amy Dietrich Hernandez said...

Sad and happy tears at this one. How dare those women underestimate that kid. I hope they see his face in their minds the next time they decide to be judgmental.

Jayne Wales said...

Bloody brilliant! Made my troubled day! Yes yes yes.
Those silly women just need to go and get a life and stop poking it in other people's lives.

Kristine said...

Lol!! What a brilliant move! I applaud him too. :)

Karen Prewitt said...

love it-will have to teach that move to Caleb :)

Colleen said...

My heart is applauding!!!

Becca said...

Hilarious!!! Dave - you have a real gift of observation. I wish I could notice the world around me, to take in all the looks, conversations, activities, the way you do. But, in the meantime, I just enjoy reading your accounts. :-)

Anonymous said...

I would love to shake this young boy's hand.

Lianna said...

AWESOME!

Dave Hingsburger said...

I apologise I was trying to publish two comments, using my phone, and accidentally erased them ... Please comment again. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!

I have to echo Amy: "Sad and happy tears at this one."

Debbie (NJ)

Princeton Posse said...

Wonderful, the story gave me goose bumps! What a smart young man! Lucky/wise parents.

Deb said...

That is an awesome young man.

Let's hope the women learned something.

Celine said...

Dave, you just made my day. I love that those two women were taught a very valuable lesson. More so, I love the gumption of that little boy.

wheeliecrone said...

Bravo!

emilyladau said...

While I wish with all my heart that gawking at and objectifying disabled people would finally come to an end, I just love the boy's response! Silent, but seriously powerful. And I hope those women learned a thing or two.

Jenise said...

Thank you for this! As a mother of a 3 1/2 year old with Down syndrome, I read the first half feeling nauseous. Thank God I kept reading. Gotta show my baby boy that as soon as he's ready.

Anonymous said...

Love it! This should be a course of action for all those that stare! Let's start a movement!

Bent said...

What does the logo and the word "blød" mean in this connection?

Dave Hingsburger said...

Bent: People with disabilities were the first group in Nazi Germany to be targeted for extermination. Many were killed before getting to a concentration camp but those that did were required to wear the black triangle with the German word 'blod' printed on it. Like the pink triangle for gay people and the yellow star for Jewish people, this historical marker needs to be remembered.

Leah Spring said...

I have four kids with DS, ages 17, 13, 10, 8. My 17 year old is a spitfire and would have totally done this. Also, I have had people in check out lines ask me out of curiosity, "How old is she?" My daughter quickly turns back, "17. How old are YOU?" (said with a bit of sarcasm because she has learned people don't like to answer this question. Love her spunk!

Molly said...

It's amazing what you can see when you open your eyes... So glad you constantly capture moments like this.