Dave Hingsburger is a disability advocate, educator, and blogger. I have long enjoyed his posts. Monday's post is no exception, and is a huge testament to his role as educator (you can read it here)...
But, it made me cry.
It's a great story and I am so glad that the man with Down syndrome has learned to stick up for himself and even encourage someone else to do the same, but it hit me HARD that he would even need to do so.
I think I've wrapped myself in a cocoon of cuteness. Eon and Bo are both young and quite adorable at this stage. We have not yet personally experienced the ignorance, negativity, and hate that follows disability. If we get stares, it's simply because folks are trying to decide how we ended up with two cute bundles of extra chromosomes. Or at least that's what I choose to believe.
I have wrapped myself in a cocoon of the informed, as well. My facebook feed is filled with the thoughts/musings/experiences of other parents on the same or similar journey. People who understand how hurtful the r-word is or how disheartening those standardized test scores can be. People who have learned, through a life they didn't ask for, to be accepting, understanding, and empathetic.
So when I read Dave's post, and recognized that my boys will likely be aware of stares following them as they attempt to live their lives, I was caught off guard.
Early in this journey, I was on guard all the time. I was waiting for the assault, unaware that it will not be my battle to wage. I had a chip on my shoulder and was almost offensive in my preparation to be offended.
But the battle is theirs. It's my job to advocate for them, to educate others, to make the world a little safer, a little more accepting in hopes that the battle will be a little less fierce.
It is also my job to make them know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are okay; to fill them with confidence that allows them to understand, and to live, that those that have issues with them simply being "are mean"; and to give them the ability to stand up for themselves when warranted and to let it go, to forgive and move on when it's not.