The more I read about parents who were informed that their child was diagnosed with downs syndrome, the more I read about fathers who were initially very disappointed and upset. I am thankful that this was not my experience with David. I do not say this because I look down on others who struggle, or because I think that there is something intrinsically better about me than someone else. I say this, because I am aware of the fact that thoughts are not created in a vacuum, they are produced within a context. I might restate my previous statement this way: I am thankful for the providential context that God graciously gave me, that allowed me to be excited, from the very beginning, about receiving a child from God, with DS.
David is the first person with DS that I have ever personally known (as far as I can recall). However, from a child, the love and acceptance of special needs children has been my “normal”. My mom was the first influence that God used to cultivate this in me. When we were young, she was a substitute teacher for a while. She was so good with the special ed. students, that eventually she was almost a full time special ed. sub. While I never met any of her students, her love for them and acceptance of them had a profound impact on the way I viewed special needs children. Through the years God has brought many “special needs” children into my life. But outside of David, there is one that stands above the rest.
I met Jake in 2007 when I began teaching at East Union. I was a choir director who was reviving a music program and moving full speed ahead. My goal was to take a struggling choir program and turn it into a thriving, award winning group. After my first two years I felt that we were well on our way. In 2009, Jake joined chorus. I had no idea what to do with this guy who was so excited about singing that he drowned out the rest of the group with his happy, yet off key, voice. One day as a fluke, I asked Jake if he wanted to help me conduct. This eventually led to him becoming my co-conductor. Through the next two years, I grew to have a real love for Jake. He brought a lot of meaningful moments to the choir, and forced me to change my focus. I could tell you many stories (like being slapped in the face by Jakes conducting during a contest) but it would take too long. I was sad the day Jake graduated, and hoped that someone would come along to fill the special place that he had carved out in my heart.
Well,… that someone happens to be my son. You see, my excitement or lack of disappointment had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with my previous experiences with special needs children. How could I be disappointed, when I had seen and experienced the goodness of God in the lives of these individuals? While this daddy is high on downs, I also have to say that I absolutely LOVE the life that God has given me; not because it’s perfect, but because it’s good.
Some people might think that I am delusional or looking at life through rose colored glasses. I can assure you that I do not live in La La land; those who know me best, know that I do not sugar coat life. I will tell you where I do live, I live inside the reality that every good and perfect gift comes down from a loving Father. My son is one of those gifts. I do not feel sorry for David, and I certainly don’t feel sorry for myself. I’m not just high on downs, I’m high on sweet pea too. I am grateful for my entire family. Thankfulness has nothing to do with what you have; but with who you think has given you the things you currently possess.