This morning I took Jana to our local library story time. There were about 1-13 other little ones ranging from 1-5 years old. It was her first time attending so it was a lot of new things to experience and see. Also, she was the only child with special needs there.
We arrived early and she got to “read” a few books and play with blocks while we waited. The other kids seemed to know each other already so they all played together. She sat near them and watched mostly. When the teacher started the class they opened up with two songs and unfortunately for Jana, everyone clapped afterward. (Remember, clapping throws her right into a meltdown!) I was able to take her to the back of the room and calm her down. We returned and listened to the teacher read Dr. Seuss. After the story the teacher had the kids play with a parachute. You remember this in school right, each kid holds part of the brightly colored parachute and the shake and lift it. Jana LOVED it! She giggled and got excited each time they raised it high over her head. Then it was craft time, they made party hats in honor of Dr. Seuss…Jana didn’t really care about this. But enjoyed sitting with her “cousin” (our good friends daughter) and watching the other kids. Her favorite part of the event though was playing with a box of bright colored scarfs. Something she’s done in therapy multiple times. This is a great sensory game and honestly, just loads of fun 🙂 All in all I think Jana had fun.
So why did I title this Uncomfortable? Well, as I was sitting there with all these families around, I noticed something, non of the other mamas asked me about Jana. I never even got a “She’s so cute!” (Which btw I get constantly) I never got asked how she was. It seemed like we never really even got acknowledged. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a total loner here. There were two families I knew and they were happy to see Jana there and the teacher asked me a ton of questions about her therapies. But I just couldn’t shake the odd feeling I kept having.
At lunch I discussed this with my hubby. I thought maybe I was looking into things too much or I was just uncomfortable. His answer was “Most likely Peanut made them uncomfortable. They didn’t know how to respond to her” He reminded me, usually when we go to events like this, it is with her Infant & Toddler therapy program. There are other kids with special needs around. The parents are accepting of all kids who are “different.” It’s usually a safe place. Other than church, she doesn’t really have play time with “typical kids.” Is this what we have to get used to? Will my daughter just have to accept that at times she might not even get acknowledged because something she was born with makes others uncomfortable? I think that’s kinda crappy! She shouldn’t have miss out on things because others don’t know how to handle it.
I mean really! Its 2017!! We live in an age of information! People all over the world are fighting for acceptance. But yet, someone who is “different” than the norm makes people uncomfortable?! Guess what people, if my daughter plays with your child, I promise, they will NOT catch Down Syndrome. They will however, catch a friendship with a beautiful, intelligent, loving little girl. They will learn that outer appearances are not what makes someone special, but what’s inside that does! They will learn that God has a special plan for kids like Jana and they are lucky to be able to cross paths with kiddos just like her. Parents please, I am asking you, don’t raise your children to be scared of kids who are different. Teach them that differences make our world brighter and better. You won’t regret opening their world…I promise.