A year ago I woke up to the sound of my back door neighbor cutting down all the trees between his fence line and the stream that runs between our homes. Even though the trees were mainly scrubs, and even though they were on his property I had a few not so neighborly thoughts as he tore down the ‘forest’ behind our homes. Little did I know that by doing this we would not only be able to get to know each other, but that I would one day be grateful as well.
We watched as his back yard became something worthy of a house beautiful spread. (We were even a wee bit jealous. ) We learned that he was a stay at home Dad and that he took excellent care of two beautiful little girls. We watched and waited for the huge tree he had ordered to come out of the ‘shock’ of being transferred from one state to another and felt bad when, as Reed predicted, it was dead to begin with. We marveled at his creativity. We silently cheered him on as he refused to accept substandard when he paid for premium.
Little by little we got to know this guy, our back door neighbor.
He would bring his girls by for Halloween. When we passed out flyers for Parker’s yard sale to earn money to go toward his generator, he was there with all kinds of great stuff for us to offer our outdoor shoppers.
I’d been meaning to do something for their family to thank them for all of their support. What is that they say about the path to hell being paved with good intentions? Yeah, I’m totally the tour guide on that one.
Finally, I got my act together and with my trusty Blue Eyed girl as a sidekick, a wagon carrying a Brave Hero and a few Valentines in hand, I went around the block and up to our neighbor’s front door and Parker delivered his Valentines.
Those two little girls and their Dad greeted Parker with true delight. There were no comments as to why Parker didn’t talk or was still wearing diapers. It was simply Parker, their backdoor friend.
I invited the Dad to bring over his girls for a play date. Then we left and made the trek back to our side of the neighborhood.
A few weeks later I answered a knock on our door and discovered our back door neighbor and his two little girls; they wanted to set up a play date with Parker.
I was thankful, excited, thrilled and, well…..worried.
Let’s face it. Parker has a few untypical habits. We’re working on them, but it is going to take time. One thing I’ve learned about being Mama to a medically fragile kid with special needs is that anything untypical can often send the typical running in the opposite direction.
To make a already long story easier to get to the end of, let me say that the play date was wonderful.
And there was a reason it was so wonderful.
It was obvious that my backdoor neighbor was comfortable with different. And through his example he has taught his children the same. When his oldest daughter, a beautiful 5 year old, asked how old Parker was and I replied that he was 8, it was simply taken in stride.
I almost fell off my swing.
For these two kids, Parker was just Parker. Not a special spirit from God to be viewed from afar (just in case his brand of special is contagious), but just another kid on the block.
The lesson learned from my neighbor that day is that there truly are parents who ‘get it.’. Parents who ask questions because they want to understand and who view my kid with the same respect any other kid would get.
To be seen as just another kid on the block. I can’t think of much more I’d wish for in regards to my son.
Thursday, March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day. It’s an opportunity for you too, to see a kid with an extra chromosome or any other neuro or physical differences as just another kid on the block. Invite them to a play date. Invite them to a birthday party. Include them like you would any other kid. If you have questions, I promise that their parents would only be too happy to answer them.
The ball is in your court.