Before I had Moxie – when I was searching online for something positive about Down syndrome, something that I could sink into with a sigh of relief, “oh, it’s going to be okay”, I came upon reasons why parents were grateful that they have a child with Down syndrome.
Learning to slow down was often one of those reasons.
The parents would write about how grateful they were to their child with Down syndrome because that child had taught them to slow down, enjoy life at a slower pace and so forth.
I never found comfort in those types of posts.
I’m a fairly quick person. I tend to move, speak, type, work, paint and act with speed (“precision” is a totally different story). I like quick; I admire things done quickly.
So those posts saying how grateful a given parent was to learn to slow down… yeah, well. It didn’t sit well or bring me happiness.
Now my child with Down syndrome is 3 and a half years old.
And the thing that mostly comes to my mind is,
Learning to go SLOWER?!!!
WHERE ON EARTH DID THAT COME FROM?!
Nothing has made me move faster – EVER – in my life than having Moxie.
Moxie moves fast, thinks fast, acts fast. She keeps on my physical toes. Figuring out ways to teach her to talk, to sign and so forth keeps me constantly on the mental move and oh my God! Chasing after her!
This isn’t true of all children with Down syndrome. Of course it’s not. Just like not all typically developing children have brown eyes or like watching Mister Rogers. All kids are different! And it boggles me how easy is it for us to lump children that have something that we are not familiar with together – if one child with Down syndrome isn’t quick, we tend to assume ALL children with Down syndrome are not quick! But we would go to great lengths to defend the fact that not all children like watching Mister Rogers.
Children with Down syndrome are simply not given the type of consideration, benefit of the doubt, breadth of thought and room for diversity that typically developing children are.
Down syndrome is not a one-size fits all mold.
Everyone is different.
My child is QUICK. My child has not – emphatically NOT taught me to “slow down” and “enjoy the ride”; she’s taught me to fun faster and better. She’s taught me to watch where I’m going so I don’t fall.
She’s taught me to embrace elements of fearlessness that I didn’t know I had in me.
She lives with moxie; she’s teaching me to do the same.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.