The Gifts of Down Syndrome; Reboot Your Day with a Hug

This morning before school I attempted to clip Wil’s fingernails. His nails were in definite need of trimming, and Wil is in definite dislike of having them trimmed.

He had just finished breakfast and was watching a video, so I thought it the perfect time as he was happily full and he was somewhat distracted. No such luck. He about had a complete meltdown over one single nail. I managed one more and he was about on the floor in a full-fledged tantrum. So I let it go at that. We spent about 5 minutes hugging to get over it. One negative ripple like that can spread into a wave of a difficult day. The hug did both of us good to rewind and reset on a better note.

Wil is not able to reason with me quite yet, and my being able to reason with him, though vastly improved as he’s gotten older, is still limited. There are some things, I just have to let go. I mean, these are fingernails for goodness sakes. They can live to be clipped another day. But his perception is that I’m forcing him to do something against his will. He was feeling immensely powerless and wasn’t able to fully communicate that with me other than having a meltdown. When he doesn’t want to do something, it doesn’t matter whether it’s trivial like fingernails or monumental like crossing the street. To him it’s the same importance. That’s the toughy.

We’ve had many occasions where he doesn’t want to bring his plate to the sink. I ask him to do so, and he will sit there. Then he’ll stand up and put it on the counter. Nope, I say, the sink. So he’ll stand there. And eventually, little by little, the plate makes it to the sink. It’s actually pretty funny, but when he is in a stubborn mood and I don’t have a half hour, it can get a bit frustrating. Yet other times, without being asked, he’ll bring his plate to the sink, rinse it off, and put it in the dishwasher.

When he’s in these upset moods, I need to back up, slow down, and find out what the source of his upset is. Sometimes I just don’t know. He probably doesn’t even know. It could be one thing or an accumualtion of things. I think we all can relate. However, most of us can be reasoned with. There is no forcing anything with Wil. And in a way, that is the blessing. I’ve learned the the only valuable force in these situations, is they force compassion.

This world is built for our convenience. Technology has been created for experiences to be easy and quick. I mean, we get upset if we have to wait 5 minutes in line! But Wil doesn’t operate that way. It could take 5 minutes just for him to get his dish to the countertop! And as challenging as it can be, I truly believe that’s his gift to this world. It is the gift of Down syndrome. We value convenience much too highly. If things don’t go our way, watch out! Wil, and his friends, remind us to slow down and evaluate the importance of what we are trying to do. To stop forcing and slow down to truly find the deep down purpose of what we are doing. Most times when it comes down to it, stopping everything for a long hug is what truly reboots the day in just the right way.

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