When I was younger, I would look at parents with children with Down syndrome and feel sorry for them. I actually remember hearing a parent refer to their child as “special,” and I just thought it was an easier way for them to deal with what had to be a sad situation. Well, on the afternoon of March 1, 2002, I found out first-hand what “special” REALLY means.
We didn’t know we were going to have child with Down syndrome, and to say we were shocked would be an understatement. My wife began crying, and I stood in silence trying to imagine how I would cope with this unexpected and disappointing news. In those few minutes, sitting in the recovery room with my wife, I literally imagined all the things I wouldn’t be able to do with my son; sports, hunting, fishing, and watching him turn into a “real” man. Amazingly though, it was me that turned to my wife and said the boldest statement I had ever made in my life; I told her she had five minutes to cry and that was it, because we weren’t being fair to our son. I asked her, “Who are you crying for, him or us? He doesn’t know he has Down syndrome, and we are going to treat him just like any other child until he needs special treatment.”
It still amazes me to this day just how joyfully Wayne sees the world. No matter the situation, he has a smile on his face and joy in his heart.
After nineteen long days in NICU, we took our little boy home. The first few years were definitely challenging, as our son battled with pneumonia, and we learned the ins-and-outs of raising a child with Down syndrome. My wife and I have had to keep each other going from time to time, but that’s the way life is in general. Throughout all those difficult times, it still amazes me to this day just how joyfully Wayne sees the world. No matter the situation, he has a smile on his face and joy in his heart.
As a teenager, Wayne has the same interests as other children his age. He loves bowling, watching television, and is desperately working to grow facial hair. He can be stubborn and willful, but has better manners than most children I see. It’s now been fifteen years since God blessed us with our son, and I still think back to my initial worries about what my son wouldn’t be able to do as he grew up. I honestly feel ashamed that my priorities and values were so low back then. My son doesn’t see race, wealth, or status; he sees and shows love for everyone he meets. He greets everyone with a hug, and leaves them with a smile. He spends hours talking to God, not for himself, but for others. You see, I have learned that my son is “special”; Wayne sees the world as our Father in heaven would have us all see it, I am truly blessed to call him my son.