More alike than different, REALLY though?

What a way to leave my lovely readers hangin, eh?

Let me cut to the chase. LB loves school! Today was actually the first day she said she didn't want to go but then decided to run for the bus. Yes, she takes the bus! I have heard a few comments about her being so small and taking the bus but I think that is the part she likes the most.

I have many things to share about school thus far and will be doing so in the month of October as I also share all things Down syndrome this month. It's time for 31 for 21 people and I am stoked!

However... I may be brief until next week. Just keepin it real here people. You see, I made the mistake, took on the challenge to run this year's Buddy Walk for our local association. At the time that I committed to this great feat, I didn't know Baby B 3 would be arriving shortly after the event. Or that I would be taking on a job, then leaving said job - all in the middle of planning for the event.

Often I have wanted to throw my hands in the air and say it wasn't worth it, but we are 3 days away from the walk and I am starting to feel it all come together. While also still PRAYING it will be a fun day with few hiccups. A few things that make this data junky happy, is the fact that we have doubled what was raised last year and kept the budget MUCH less than what was spent last year too- so I feel good about those stats. We also have 50% more people registered. Those are some pretty good numbers. Now if Mother Nature would cooperate, we will be in a great position to have some very happy kiddos.

So.. back to this Down syndrome thing....

This will be our 4th Buddy Walk. Very exciting considering LB is only 3. (In case you haven't heard of the Buddy Walk, it's a walk that celebrates Down syndrome. HA, easy peasy, hugh? Seriously, there are hundreds all over the world so it's really cool to be a part of something dedicated to such a tiny population in this world.)

K - enough rants... .My point is... each year we do the walk, Jay's school is kind enough to carve out a few hours of their day to host a "Mini Buddy Walk" in honor of LB. It's quite adorable and you may have read about it here a couple years ago. Well they did it again this year and we were beyond grateful for their support.

While walking, one little girl asked me why we were doing this and why we needed money. I can talk to adults easily, give them stats, and ramble a lot of facts about Down syndrome that so many are unaware of. But this little gal caught me off guard to say the least. First, why WERE they giving us money? How do you tell a kid that adults need money to teach people or to have social events? Or to pay for a building... build a website??

The pressure was on and I had only a handful of seconds to make this good.

My response: Well, we are walking in honor of our daughter who has Down syndrome.
Lil Girl: What is Down syndrome?
Me: (thinking that she will have no clue what a chromosome is - she is a 2nd grader- I wasn't sure how to answer her. After the fact, I certainly didn't like my answer either.) I tell her that it is something that might make her different in some ways. Like, the ways she learns, it could even make her walk slower. Then I was lost for words. I had nothing else to offer her.
Her: Oh.

And then she was off to do her own thing and be rid of me.

I dwelled on my answer and hated that I didn't give her facts even if she was younger. I tried to simplify my daughter in a way that made her different when all the while I am constantly trying to force the reasons why she should fit in. But in my head, I NEEDED to explain to this kid - to validate even - why we were all raising money and walking for her. And her having Ds didn't seem like enough of a reason.

After that lil convo, the lil girl kept trying to help LB walk. Because, in her mind, LB was walking slow and needed help. Fair enough. In my mind, walking slower meant that it would take her longer to learn how.

In another instance, I was walking behind LB with Ash and overheard 2 more girls chatting. Then I hear one of them ask - "Which one has Down syndrome?" I was AGAIN caught off guard by these kids. I mean to me, now its obvious. And often, to most adults as well. Yet, these kids didn't see the differences.

I learned a few things that day. One, not everyone sees differences instantly. We are conditioned and learn how to see these things as we grow and gain more life experiences. It's all about knowledge and information that we have in how we respond to these differences.

Two, I think we, as advocates for the Down syndrome community, have an identity issue on our hands. While we want so often to push inclusion and ask that the world see our kids or loved ones as more alike than different, we also want their differences to be what makes them unique and the reasons for the support they are given. Maybe this isn't an 'issue' persay, but it certainly creates some confusion for the lil ones that are just learning about all of these differences and how to treat people.

Three, I REALLY gotta work on my pitch. No need to simplify it, or to justify anything.  Give it to em straight!

Until next time,


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