Yesterday morning Wil was a tough one. Would not get out of bed, would not get dressed, would not eat, would not decide on lunch, would not brush his teeth, would not would not would not would not would not.
The twins needed to get to school, and Wil was still sitting on the floor in his pjs absolutely resolute to do nothing but that. And I believed him. Whoever is able crack the code on the Down syndrome brand of stubborness will win the Nobel Peace Prize some day.
I weighed the checks and balances. Force Wil, and it only goes downhill from here. Give him some space and time, and he’d be good to go. Fortunately I didn’t have to get right to work so I told him he could go to school late today. A slower morning would result in a much more productive day overall. And the twins could enjoy a pleasant ride to school. It worked like a charm. After dropping the twins off at school, he relaxed, got dressed, ate breakfast, and even packed a whole extra backpack full of toys to bring with him. He got to school 45 minutes late but made it through the entire day.
This morning I prayed would be a better morning, as I was working and Katherine and Elizabeth would be on “Wil duty” as we like to call it. As I left work and headed for home, I got a call from Katherine. Uh-oh.
“Mom, Wil wants to be dressy today. Like coat and tie dressy.”
I was so thrilled that he actually got out of bed and wanted to get dressed for them I said, “Great! Compared to yesterday, this is what I call success.”
“But, Mom, is that really appropriate for school?”
“Going through what we did yesterday, if he wanted to splash glitter all over his outfit I’d ask what color.”
“Haha, ok, Mom. I’ll see what I can do. See you soon, bye.”
When I got home, they were all standing at the door, backpacks on and ready to go! Oh, how something so seemingly simple can bring the greatest joy of relief. I could see the girls had talked Wil down to a buttoned collared shirt and grey pants. Off we went, Monster Mash playing, and we all sang right along, but when we pulled up the the girls’ school, they turned down the music and stopped singing because you know, it’s not cool when you are 13. But, as a mom of 13 year olds, it’s so fun to embarrass them (and I think they secretly like it) so was tempted to blast it again as they stepped out the car door. But they were awesome rockstars that morning, so I decided to save embarrassing them for another day.
Katherine and Elizabeth are so good at rolling with these unpredictable changes in behavior. I asked them if it’s hard for them sometimes. They both said no, it’s just Wil. That’s how Wil is. There are good days, not-so-good days, and Wil days.
I sometimes hesitate to share the challenging times. Because there are many. I want minds to open to Down syndrome, not close down even more than they already are. But life is big. Life can not simply be categorized as all good or all not-so-good. Each of us has our own brand of Wil days. Days that may not be specifically common to others, but they are common in that these days are specifically challenging for us in our own personal lives. Life is full of ups, downs, unpredictable changes and various little speed bumps in-between. And it’s navigating all of these places, figuring it out, even on the days when you don’t think you have any extra patience in you, you know you have find it. Because if you force it, or shy away from it, you won’t make it through the day. But getting through those places, bit by bit, are how simple moments in life shine. Like seeing my kids all at the ready, smiling in their backpacks after I know it was not a perfectly smooth morning. And when you are sitting in the car singing Monster Mash with those same kids, even though it can be really hard, you feel like you are the luckiest person in the world and would rather be no where else in the world than where you are right now.