Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Would I take away the Down Syndrome from Cate? (Day 31 or 31/21)

Phew - the final day of the 31/21 challenge and except for that one late post I'm proud to say I did it!  I have debated what this final post should be about so much I didn't get any of it done ahead of time so forgive me the errors not found in my normal proof reading day.  And although I'll do a current Halloween picture post later this week - I thought I'd add a festive flashback touch to this probably boring post!
2006 - 10 months
It was a question from a little while back on the BC DS message board that finally landed me on this post - "If there were a magic pill that took away the extra chromosome from your child would you use it?".  This theoretical question has been posed on the message board before and on many blogs and people's responses can be very polarized.  I'm not much for theoretical discussion or philosophy but I have often pondered this question.  Truthfully the answer is, I just don't know,  I'm not the person who can say "absolutely" or "never".  The uncertainty lies in this - Cate is a beautiful person but I hate to see her struggle and I hate to think of anyone every putting her down.   As she has grown her issues have changed in severity and I as have grown as a parent, so the answer has become even more less certain instead of more so. 
Today, I know that my child is not a diagnosis.  Cate is not Down Syndrome even though it is a part of her genetic makeup.  She is not the poster child people should look to for inspiration of someone who is overcoming some major disability - her issues aren't any more difficult than so many other children.  All children have challenges - some academic, some with allergies or illness, some with their environments.  Cate is just a kid who has different challenges then most.  Her foundation in life was different, more intense then other kids her age because we couldn't let milestones just happen we had to use therapy to make her stronger and teacher how how to learn.  But today she is a child struggling to learn math and to read in first grade - just like the average kids in her class.  But the question that underlies every thing is could Cate possibly be the same person if she didn't have the struggle? 

When I'm pondering the hypothetical magic pill questions, I'm always drawn back to the lesson my parents taught me - if you have to work for it, it will be more valuable to you.   I know it is true - the simplest example of it being the first car I had to pay half of the total cost with my hard earned life guarding money, it never missed an oil changed and was washed all the time.  I wouldn't have neglected that car if my parents had bought it for me but would I have had so much pride in it - probably not.  Cate's personality is joyful and caring, it probably would be even if she didn't have an extra chromosome but would she be the same determined, aware little girl if she hadn't had to go through two years of PT to learn to walk?  Maybe she would have but I'm pretty sure I would be a totally different parent.  I've said it many times and it is the absolute truth - having Cate made me a better person.  I am more aware of others, more accepting of differences, less concerned with perfection and more concerned with character.

2009 (I was juggling a baby so this is the best shot I got that year!)

I believe Cate has made us a stronger family.  How can you not gain strength when you learn that you have so many people who will sit beside you and feed you for weeks when your baby has a major surgery?  When you learn for a fact that your village will help raise your child willingly and lovingly?  There is strength in being able to lean on other people and that is a lesson we might not have learned without Cate.  She also taught us appreciation of the little things.  As a family we revel in things as small as Cate's writing a personal birthday card because we know all the things it took for her to do that - she had to gain the hand strength to hold the pencil correctly, she had to learn to follow instructions enough to spell out the words, she had to sit still for more than 2 minutes ;-), she had to use her imagination to draw a picture of a cake.  Pretty normal stuff for a 6 years so would we think something that little and awesome if it wasn't for therapy and extra practice?  We'd be the poorer for not realizing the work that goes into growing up.

So today, at this moment I would answer the question - No I would not give Cate a magic pill because I would be to afraid that she wouldn't be the same little girl with the caveat that as she gets older and faces new challenges I can change my mind on that. 

1 comment:

  1. I love your perspective on this question. I also love the way you said that just as her issues have grown with her- you have also grown as a parent. I'm far behind you yet on this all, but that is what I'm hoping to see happen. Thanks for your inspiration. (-: