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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Afternoons with Carter



All of us want what’s best for our family, especially our children (whether furry or bipeds). Anna attends a weekly tumbling class for her age group called Tumble Tots. It’s an action-packed half hour taught by a saint of a woman and her assistant. The kids basically play Simon Says for the first half and work on gross motor skills and direction following. The second half is devoted to balance beams, trampolines, etc. and most of the kids leave each week tired and thoroughly entertained. I leave my hearing aids at home as the noise level approaches deafening at times.
Anna’s BFF Tessa attends and it’s their weekly get together to play and have fun. This session, a boy with Down’s syndrome started coming to the class and proved to be quite a delight. He had issues with his legs, as he was quite bull-legged and had hard times with coordination and the finer motor skills practiced. He was also very shy and when the teacher called his name, he would quickly cover his face with his hands and try and hide. He also had a smile that could light up a small town and was very happy to be playing alongside these other kids.
The boy communicated very little and used very crude sign language to communicate with his Dad each week during the lesson. The teacher would tell the kids what to do and then Dad would get the boy’s attention and sign the command to him. This Dad and I were the only two men in this session’s group, so we formed a quick bond and would quickly chat while waiting to use the balance beam or hop on the trampoline. We discussed the boy’s condition and what they were doing to help him get ready for school. For his age, he was pretty low functioning and that was a concern for the family as they enrolled him in the class. They knew that he was chronologically ready, but physically/mentally, he was still at about 18 months or lower. The Dad remarked one day that he was very happy that we had accepted his son and was grateful that we looked beyond his disability and viewed him as just another kid.
I had to check myself, as I got a little choked up as that is what Tod and worry about on a regular basis. How will Anna be accepted with two Dads that are Gay? How will she be treated by her friends and future school mates? Will she become the object of ridicule or mocking because of us? After I regained my composure, I realized that most of us worry about this, whether the kid has a disability or two Dads, but it took a young man with a killer smile and the desire to play to help me realize that fact.