I have found it interesting over the past couple of years to watch small children play with Leila, they don't question anything or notice anything "different" or if they do notice it's not a big deal. I wonder when that changes? When do we start to judge? And more importantly, why?I often find myself acutely aware that Leila has certain features that are different when we are out in public, something that I rarely think about at home or in the company of friends. A painful reminder that other parents that don't know Leila see her as Down syndrome first and a little girl second. I feel them stare a bit too long, and when I meet their eyes and smile, they smile back. It's a nervous smile. I often wonder what they are thinking... Are they feeling sorry for me? Are they glad it's not them? Or is it just that they don't have someone with special needs in their life so they are uncomfortable?... Sadly, these might have been things I thought before I had Leila, this girl has already changed me into a better person.
It breaks my heart to think about the future when Leila starts to notice this too. Right now she meets every stare with a smile and waves hello, and I could just cry because at this young age she interprets it as positive attention. I don't want her to realize as she gets older, I don't want her to feel self-conscious, or notice people judging her. I want people to see her as a little girl, or Leila first. She is funny and smart, kind and cuddly, playful and sweet... But sometimes this gets lost on others because they see the diagnosis.
We should all try to see people as the person first. A person isn't their diagnosis, Leila is not the "downs kid" or "downs girl", any more than a kid with cancer is "the cancer kid". She is not Down syndrome, she is Leila, a little girl who happens to HAVE Down syndrome.
Thanks for taking the time to read my posts this week, it means a lot to be surrounded by people who want to learn, and who love my little girl.