I absolutely had to get this off my chest… People are STUPID! I mean, I have worked in the food service industry for YEARS. Therefore, I was under the impression I had delved into the depths of human stupidity and made it out the other side; but alas, I was horribly mistaken. After having my son, I feel like Alice. I climbed into a rabbit hole of idiocracy where the uneducated reign and I have the urge to slap someone weekly.
A quick back story… My name is Hollie and I was a Facebook Pregnancy Poster. I “updated” my 1,228 “friends” on cravings, Dr. visits, weight gain, sleep deprivation, baby preparations and everything in between. Many people had followed my pregnancy whether they wanted to or not. I went into labor, and of course I posted about it. Everyone was SUPER excited and dying to see the little guy. So the nurse hands me my son and I can immediately tell something isn’t right. Cue shock, horror, guilt, etc. You get the drift. And as I am trying to cope with this fact, my Facebook and cell phone are bombarded with requests for me to display my child. Offer up the fruits of my labor (pun intended) for public enjoyment. I froze. How could I expect “the public” to accept my son, when I had yet to wrap my mind around it myself!?
Anyway, I finally bit the bullet (we still didn’t have a diagnosis yet) and took hundreds of photos of Kullen with his eyes closed because to me, his eyes were the only thing that made him ‘different’. He was a baby, he slept all the time. No one would be the wiser, right? I picked through those photos VERY carefully. Selecting only the right ones from the right angle to post. I know. I am being brutally honest here. I know I sound shallow and ridiculous and I probably was, but so goes the story of life.
I finally “came out” on FB by posting a lovely picture of my son with the subtitle “My kid has more chromosomes than your kid.” It was met with mostly positive comments, but there were whispers behind my back that I had somehow “caused” Kullen to have Downs since I had occasionally drank a glass or two of wine while pregnant. I mean, come on! He doesn’t have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We’re talking genetics here. Slap Yourself!
But I digress. I say all of this to illustrate the state of mind I was in for the first month or so. Sooooo… I FINALLY get Kullen in “public” for the first time. At this point he was almost 2 months old. We head to Jason’s Deli to meet my aunt for lunch. The cashier takes my order and says “only if I can look at the little baby.” I proudly raise his infant carrier so she can catch a glimpse of my little man (he was sound asleep and looked super cute) . She immediately says, with far too much enthusiasm, “OH!!! Did you know he had Down Syndrome before he was born?!?!” THAT perked the attention of the seventy people in line behind me. I was blindsided! How did she know?! Does my son REALLY look that much different than other children??? I thought he was gorgeous (By this time I didn’t even see the Downs… Still don’t to this day) The blood drained out of my face and I think I mumbled something like, “Nope, he was a surprise all around,” with obvious discomfort. She didn’t stop there either. She continued to come to our table (I guess she was on her break) and inform me of every person she had met in her life with Down Syndrome (I may be slightly exaggerating) and the details of their physical and emotional health… At least 3 times she came by! Personally, I think she was on crack but that’s neither here nor there… Slap earned but not delivered.
During our meal, my aunt, who loves my son to death, was burping him. There was a table of older ladies behind her (so they had full view of my son’s face) and they were STARING. And I don’t mean looking, I mean all four of them were turned around staring with that unconscious angry look people get when they don’t realize they’re doing it. They finally looked past my son and saw ME eyeballing them and then the smiles came. They mouthed nice things and the urge to slap them went away.
Oh, one of my favorites is, “Didn’t you get an amniocentesis?!?” like somehow I failed in my prenatal care because my blood screen came back with no risk of genetic anomalies, and I didn’t insist on very risky further testing… Slap earned but not delivered.
And I hate this one, when I’m pushing my son in the stroller and talking to ladies in line at a store. They just love all of the baby talk, then they peek around and see him and attempt to mask their surprise. This one even confuses me. I always want to explain my son, like “yes, he has Down Syndrome. But he’s still MUCH cuter than your kid.” 🙂
Or when someone learns of Kullen’s DS, they say something along the lines of “Don’t feel bad, he’s gonna be so full of love.” Okay, I didn’t give birth to a freakin Carebear!!! He’s got an attitude like all other children. And I don’t feel bad… Concerned sometimes, but bad? no… No slap here, I know these people mean the best.
I get this one reaction quite frequently. There are different versions, but basically, “Don’t be concerned about people picking on him. God blessed him so he’ll never know he’s getting picked on.” or “At least he’ll never know he’s different.” Ok, are you telling me my son will be so “Blessed” by simple-mindedness that he won’t be aware of his circumstances?! I choose not to believe this one. These people probably don’t deserve to get slapped… I’m at peace with that.
Oh, this is a good one: I got into a conversation with someone about whether I would ever be a grandmother. She says: “I think they’re (people with Down Syndrome) all sterile. Or at least they should be. Just sayin” <– Did that REALLY just come out of your mouth?!?! I hope your next period happens in a shark tank, just sayin 🙂
Then there are the comments that make the news… I can accept most of those for what they are. Comedians have always relied heavily on “shock factor,” and sadly most humor will offend one group or another. The one that really made me sad was the GQ writer. He was writing about the worst dressed cities and said:
“[Boston] is a bad-taste storm sewer…[Boston] suffers from a kind of Style Down Syndrome, where a little extra ends up ruining everything.”
That one hurt my heart. My son is NOT ruined The “little extra” makes him more awesome… Yeah, I’d slap that writer. For. Sure.
Pretty sure I’m done ranting for now. The whole point of this is to encourage you to “watch yourself.” Don’t be that person. I am fully prepared for the day to come when someone says something so immensely idiotic that I actually do slap the hell out of them. When that day comes and momma bear gets unleashed I have a list of people on speed dial that have agreed to bail me out of jail. And THAT, my friends, is responsible parenting in action 🙂