When I first found out my brother has Down Syndrome it was such a shock. Fear and negativity really took hold. Although it didn't last long those moments were pretty hellish which is almost laughable at this point because he is so vibrant, sweet, and loving. I could never imagine Mark being any different than he is. I wouldn't want to change him if I could.
On Thursday I turned the corner onto my Parents' street and made my way to the blue style ranch and as I creeped along, baby asleep in the car, the radio playing THIS, all of a sudden Mark and his two friends came speeding out from a side yard. The two others on a bike and a skateboard and Mark zooming down on his razor scooter.
He was flying. I mean really flying and for a moment the music synced up with his movements. Have you ever had that happen? When the windshield wipers of your car or the fellow biking down the street all of a sudden glide seamlessly with the beat and it feels like life is orchestrating it's own soundtrack?
Watching him be so independent and agile and healthy and fast and free and all those things that everyone said he would never be was mind blowing.
It's amazing how many stereotypes can be smashed to smithereens by a kid with a pair of almond shaped eyes on a scooter on our little dead end at dusk, no?
It's not always the big stories, the news worthy tales, or the award winning moments . I'm a firm believer that the actions most worthy of accolades and honor are a lot harder to see. Not as obvious or bold. They leak in through key holes and sneak in back doors.12 year old boys can redefine words like pride and gratification just by being themselves. Simply by coasting along on a couple of rickety wheels on a short street in a small town.
It is a bittersweet thing to realize that your baby brother is no longer a baby. DS is kind of like a youth preserver in a sense. Mark has been so young for so long and now? He is so full of these teenager traits. Talking about IPOD touches, going to concerts, and throwing around pre-teen attitude. He cooks dinner on taco night Tuesdays, helps change diapers, and teaches Hendrix how to open and close, open and close, his shape sorter box. He goes by "Uncle Mark", there are about twenty gold medals lining his bedroom wall, and I'm pretty sure he has a crush on Miley Cyrus. Although, he would never admit it to me.
The kid who was never supposed to grow up is all grown up.
When I parked the car that day, Mark came sliding up next to me.
"Need some help?" he asked
"Can you carry in some groceries?"
"Sure, but I don't got alotta time. Friends are waiting for me"
and in came those groceries and off he went smacking a kiss on Henry's cheek and slamming the door behind him.
Just a kid and his neighborhood friends. Wind whipping in their faces, yelling and hollering, disrupting quiet dinners as they set off each dog barking, once house after another. Trampling rose bushes and hanging in backyard forts.
My family never doubted Mark. In the beginning the focus shifted so quickly from what he wouldn't be able to accomplish to how and when he will. Even so,I just always sort of assumed that there would be this big gap between his childhood and mine. That they would look and feel so different because of the DS but truth be told he is just like all the other neighborhood kids. There is that tell tale look in his hazel eyes and the cute lil pudge on the back of his neck but his friends don't seem to notice all that much or if they do, they certainly don't care.
I don't know how to say this but basically, I'm kind of blown away by how "average" his life is. He is just another kid scraping knees and climbing trees.
I could not be more proud.
That's the thing about these kids. For a syndrome that appears to be so figured out, they sure are unpredictable. Time lines and guidelines. Reference books and studies. Not one of them can sum up what they can do.
Just when you think the movement has stopped or their growth has stunted, they hop on a scooter and take off, leaving you in the dust.