Happy Spring. World Down Syndrome Day 2019

Spring has sprung! Happy Death of Winter… for now.  And in the words of our brothers and sisters elsewhere, “Navruz Muborak”! Two years ago today we all woke up in Lisbon.  Did you know that today is also World Down Syndrome Day? What’s the connection? I’ll sort of get to that below.

White flowers of the orange trees in full bloom here, along the old northern fortification wall on Calle Muro, Jerez de la Frontera.  Happy Spring!  Navruz Muborak!
White flowers of the orange trees in full bloom along the old northern fortification wall on Calle Muro, Jerez de la Frontera.

While preparing for school my older son, Karol, took a long time choosing clothes.  He was changing often; undecisive! “Pick one and stick with it!” I grunted.

How do you teach a child decisiveness and patience at the same time?! f?*k if I know?!

Before you know it the pitch of my voice was rising and its frequency, accelerating (can’t avoid the comparison with my former career in energy and my perpetually unpaid one in music).  Then that familiar pre-explosive sound of silence started to kick in…

Then it hit me: Be kind. Unwind!

Be kind to your children.  Relax.  Delay your reactions and let it go, man!, says the Happy Houseband in me. 

“Remember the ‘4Ds’, Tata?”, Karol says.  Ahhhh, the 4Ds:  Delay.  Deep breathe.  Drink water.  Do something else.  And if you’re still mad, add another D…. take a Dump!  And if you’re still angry after all that… Then,  all will not be quiet in your western front for you!

“We gotta wear different socks today,” my Khaleesi, mother of our lovely little dragons, reminds me.

And then it hit me again. This time like Thor’s hammer coming straight from Valhalla down onto my hard head.

Why? It’s World Down Syndrome Day today. 

You see, Karol was not only a preemie (a premature baby by almost 3 months). 

Before birth the initial screening indicated 1 in 15 chance (that is, for every 15 children born, one will likely have Down Syndrome). We did not choose to have the more definitive diagnostic tests. For us, there simply was no point in doing that.

It was devastating.  My pseudo-scientific mind kicked in and I prepared charts and pictograms accentuating the positive and swallowing the negatives into the blackhole that is my heart.  But it was killing me inside.  Why?  I don’t know.  But that is beside the point of this rambulatory writing (is there such a word)? In the following months we learned to accept it. Either/or, we’ll have the baby.

The point is, when that happened I promised myself that I would love this likely-DS-with-a-hole-in-his-heart child no matter what happens.  Have or have not. Naughty or not. 

Walking home from school, we took a break to smell the sweet scent of flowers of the orange trees in full bloom; along the old northern fortification wall on Calle Muro.

Then he came early.  And look at him now… flourishing in a home away from homes!  In a home of parents with little money but a lot of love and time for him and his brother.

Like his brother, Kaj, he is blooming in this sun-and-sea-splashed fertile land since we up-and-moved the family abroad two years ago TODAY–from the busy-ness of Washington D.C. to our much saner life here in Jerez.

Don’t forget that!  Keep it in your heart so that your smile will shine! I’m talking to myself of course.  Be kind. Unwind!

HELP!  Do you have any parenting tips for this Happy Houseband for raising decisive children? Big Smile!

Learn more about Down Syndrome:  “World Down Syndrome Day 2019. … The date itself has been selected for very clever reasons; it is held on the 21st day of the 3rd month, which is a hat-tip to the uniqueness of the triplication of the 21st chromosome which leads to Down syndrome.”

Very cool soundtrack as I write this, as I do my seemingly ceaseless parade of honey dooos and household chores: Gregorian chants at 432 Hz from Meditative Minds. Check it out! Unwind!

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