Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Here, Now

"I can do it myself, mom," he said.

"Oh, I don't mind," she said, picking up his tray and taking it over to empty it's contents in the trash and then stacking it where trays are left for pick up.

I don't know if she saw his face, I doubt it, because people who think they are being helpful don't often look. He was deflated.

He was probably in his late forties, she was about my age.

He was born into a time of low expectations, she gave birth in a time where disability and shame were co-mingled. But they are here, now, and he wants to live, here, now. He must have noticed the young teen with Down Syndrome, like himself, working stocking drinks into the cooler. He must see other young people with intellectual disabilities out on their own, taking buses, going shopping, or to the movies with friends. He must see that.

I say that because he tried to assert himself, to do something for himself rather than have something done for him. Coming from the land of low expectations meant that he'd be trapped by helpers for his whole life, he would have been denied the freedom to try, the freedom to fail and the freedom to learn. He wants to move, into here, into now.

The young teen with Down Syndrome comes over to his table, seeing that the tray were removed, and wiped it down.

They spoke briefly.

I couldn't hear what they said.

But I saw the older man reach up and pat the shoulder of the teen, a congratulatory pat. I saw the young teen, beam a smile at the older man in response.

His mom returned, "There that's done," she said.

He didn't thank her.


Ron Arnold said...

"Coming from the land of low expectations meant that he'd be trapped by helpers for his whole life" -

This thought . . .

I've shared this blog entry with a number of folks/

Unknown said...

I have a young friend with Down Syndrome who does things for herself rarely...partially because she processes very slowly and partially because most of her life, everything has either been done for her or is done because she is told by someone else what to do and when to do it. When she is at my house, I wait. I wait for her to complete tasks, to decide what she wants to do next and to ask for what she wants. It is, often, an excruciatingly slow process. She is filled with uncertainty (am I making the right choice? am I *allowed* to do this?) and often it takes a very long time for "the next step". It would be so much easier and faster-- for ME-- if I just went ahead and made the decisions or completed the tasks she is working on...but it would do nothing for HER. Sometimes, only one thing gets done by her in the time that I could have done ten things. But I wait. A lot. I encourage her. I support her. I do things with her. But I do not do for her. I have too much respect for her as a person to do that.