Down is Up

Like the majority of dads out there, I remember the day my son was born.

the manIt was a nice summer compared to Irish standards, and the rain had washed away the grey clouds from the previous day.  The missus was busy with the tiny girl (our daughter who was born a year earlier) and I had been looking forward to a little DIY in the garden, which could be dangerous given my lack of handy-man genes – but that’s the glory of being a homeowner.

The mother-in-war was visiting, again, to inspect how we were getting along with the baby, and also to ensure that the pregnancy of our second child was going as planned too.

Suddenly my South American flower said she felt a little uneasy and that she needed to go the hospital to get checked.  The baby hadn’t really moved for some time and she was getting worried.  We still had over a month to go, so we assumed that it was just a routine check-up.

At the hospital, the doctors did several tests, kept both mother and child monitored and instructed her to get some needed rest.  The baby was fine, but they needed to be 100% sure and the overly friendly elderly midwife instructed me to go home and get some clothes, to which I only dared to obey.

As I pulled into the driveway, my cell phone rang.  It was the hospital who told me to get back to the hospital immediately, they had to get the baby out by emergency C-section.  My World started to spin and I was increasingly worried that either of them would be in immediate danger.  Despite the looming danger, I managed to pack a bag for the missus, instructed the mother-in-panic to look after the tiny girl while I went to the hospital.

The rest is history and you can read the full story here – “I’m a dad … again“.

What my older posts failed to mention was that my son was born with a super hero gene or an X-man genome depending which Marvel comics you prefer, and I wasn’t too sure how to prepare for it.  How do you tell the World that your son is special? … more special than all other kids combined, and that he would rely on my skills to support him throughout the early years in order to get a good solid head start.

I should probably have rephrase that question and considered how I would become the best dad he can have?

When I saw him the first time, lying naked and alone in the incubator in ICU, I could see he was special.  Not only because he was my son, but because he had Down Syndrome.  It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to see as some of the features around his eyes and nose were sufficient.

Deep inside my heart skipped a beat, mainly out of fear, as I initially didn’t know how to react and how would he grow up to fulfil his super hero destiny?

After that moment of fear had passed, I was ready to take on the role as Jor-El, and the months/years that passed were done as a proud father.

Cool new Beach necklaceOk, I admit it has not been an easy role to fill.  I expected him to excel at everything he was asked to do, telling me what he wanted and do all kinds of activities – just like any other kid.

The only challenge is, he’s not like every other kid.  He has Down Syndrome and that by definition gives him some disadvantages, but he has so many more advantages.

I often ask myself, what has this done to my life, having a kid with special needs?

Well, I honestly think it has made me a much better person and father.  But, having a kid will do that to you, whether he/she has special needs or not.  Any child will change you.

However, having a kid with Down Syndrome has been, and still is, very rewarding.  He brings a sense of joy with him that rubs off on people around him.  He laughs, hugs, cries, plays, kisses, wrestles and loves to drive in my El Camino.  His sisters support him in any way they can and the oldest stands up for him when other kids talk bad about him.

As my late dad said to me when he was told “son, you just have to tell him no or instruct how to do things a few more times … but I had to do that with you too“. 🙂

I clearly remember people’s reaction when they heard I have a kid with Down Syndrome.  Their first reaction is “I’m sorry“, to what I reply “Why are you sorry, I’m not.  He’s my son and that’s all there is to it!“.  To us he was born with an upgrade and we are proud of him just the way he is.

I do worry when the day comes and when he decides to move out.  Who will be there to help him?  What happens if he gets lost?  What if he has a sad moment with his girlfriend?

But, my biggest fear is that someone will make him sad and hurt him on purpose; calling him names, beating him up or push him around, just because he’s different.

Well, to the people who might consider harming my son beware; I’m the father of a super hero, so that by definition means that my powers are multiplied and my wrath will be equivalent to that of the gods.  Do not tempt faith and leave my son alone!

SmileTo my son – I love you!  I think you are the coolest dude of all.  You have a magical way with women, you see the best in people and you have endless love.

I’m proud being your dad and I’ll always be there for you.  Don’t let people bring you down and do what your heart tells you.

You can do anything, and if you for some reason can’t, then I’ll be honoured helping you.

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