I have been in many situations with Nichole where I quickly realize that the people that we are talking to or watching her, are unable to see my daughter. It is not that they are blind, they simply cannot see past the physical characteristics of Down syndrome. Put plainly, they cannot get past their misconceptions and fears about Down syndrome.
Their eyes and facial expressions become a mirror to what they are thinking,
"I feel so sorry for that baby"
"I am so thankful that is not my child"
"It must be so hard having a kid like that"
There have been times where I have seen smiles turn into discomfort. Or times where a conversation is cut short. It is during these times, that I wish I could say... "How dare you! How dare you look at my daughter that way! Do you have any idea what it is like to have a child with Down syndrome? I don't think so! You don't have one! So stop staring! Can't you just see her as a baby! She is a baby you know? Down syndrome is something that she as, NOT something that she is!" And on and on, I want to become hysterical and get my point across. I am fully aware that such tactics might not get me very far. Instead, I smile, I kiss or hug Nichole and tell her she is beautiful and that I love her. Then I ask Nichole to wave hello or blow a kiss. Most of the time, this comes accompanied by her shy face and a smile. Precious!
But most important, I have learned that nothing I can say is as powerful as what Nichole can do. She has the ability to touch hearts. I have watched how people warm up to her, how their smiles become genuine. I have seen the looks become looks of acceptance, of joy. I have seen faces that have turned around and and say, "Maybe having a baby with Down syndrome is not so bad after all." I have watched people reaching out their arms towards Nichole wanting to be close to her, the same people that had once walked away.
She is showing people the beauty of her life. Her sweet disposition and endearing personality. The peace, joy, and love that she communicates is too hard to resist. The value of her life is quickly recognized. Down syndrome has nothing to do with what really matters in life. She is a little girl with many abilities, gifts and talents.
I have learned that Nichole is her best advocate. She will always be.