I absolutely cringe when I see a picture of kids with Ds holding up a bland, white piece of paper with, “I may not be perfect but I am happy” scrawled in black sharpie across it. I want to reach inside my computer and gently take that paper from the child’s hands, then roll it up and whap whoever wrote it over their head to knock some sense into them.
I can’t imagine simply describing Wil as happy. So singular, so one-dimensional. So blah. I must tell you, our life is much too dimensional to be wrapped up in “I am happy.” When Wil decides, in the middle of the post office parking lot, that he is not going inside and he’d rather sit down right there, “I am happy” is not exactly what is happening. Or, when we are in the grocery store and he feels tired, he will lay spread eagle right in the middle of the aisle. Wil was not happy. Though, when another shopper walked by and said, “That is exactly what I would rather be doing right now!” she made me feel happy. Or when there is a loud sudden noise, and Wil runs right for the nearest exit, he is not happy. On the other hand, when a beam of sunshine slants in our kitchen window, he will stop whatever he is doing, raise his arms to the sky, tilt his face toward the warmth of the beam and sigh, “Ahhhhhhhh!” Happy can not even begin to describe that kind of contented elation. Or when Wil lucks out with a chocolate donut treat, he languishes “mmmmmmm” the entire time he is eating it. If that is not pure perfection, I’m not sure what is.
And speaking of perfect, did it cross the minds of those who post these quotes that we are lacking a chromosome in relation to our friends with Ds? So who is calling whom imperfect again? And let’s get real, most of our imperfect moments are the most memorable of our lives. They are the times we look back and laugh at, or cry from, and almost always have grown from. Imperfections are what have molded us into who we are today and who we will continue to evolve into. Imperfections are what have drawn us closer to others, or set us out to blaze new trails. Imperfections kick us out of our complacency to do and try something different. Imperfections may not make life easier, but life is certainly more interesting and colorful for our imperfections.
So, in my opinion, if you are going to write a quote about life with Down syndrome, ditch the black sharpie, crumple up the white paper, and go straight for the paint brush and canvas. Get out all your colors and mix them up into a kaleidoscopic combination. Dip your brush in and get real artsy on that canvas. Layer it with squiggles and zig-zags and twists and turns and everything in-between. Because that is what life is after all. A multitude of unpredictable twists and turns with all kinds of colorful adventures in-between that some may view as imperfect, but when I look back on that canvas I can identify every turn and how we grew from it to go on to the next one. And always remember to color outside the lines of “happy” to where the “mmmmm’s” and “ahhhhh’s” live in their truest ethereal form.