Saturday, 21 July 2012

Shopping Adventures

Dress up time
I have written quite a lot about Felix's fascination with wearing Daddy's underpants on his head or around his neck. Nathan's underwear drawers are at just the right height for Felix to sit and pull everything out, and he still does it quite often. As strange as it sounds, it has really helped with his coordination. He will sit in front of the mirror lifting them over his head, then taking them off, then putting them back on again. He has become so good at it that he gets them over his head the first time he tries now.

Last night, Felix set a personal best record. He disappeared around to Nathan's side of the bed for a few minutes. When he reappeared a bit later, he had so many things draped around his neck that he could barely crawl. Nathan and I were laughing so much that we had to take everything off to count it all just to see how much Felix had put on. There was a total of three singlets and five pairs of underwear!!! Not a bad effort!

Nate and Felix with Noah
It's always an adventure to go shopping with Felix. I try hard to make it an educational experience for him; talking as we walk along about the things we see, and the food we put in our trolley. This morning Felix really didn't want to sit in the trolley, so I picked him up and carried him for a while. I was shopping for fruit and vegetables at the time, so decided to get him to 'help' me. I named each thing as I picked it up and then asked Felix if he could put it 'in' the trolley. Thankfully most of the vegetables I got today were quite sturdy (cauliflower, broccoli, corn etc), because they were dropped from a reasonable height into the trolley. He thought it was great to help Mummy, but it certainly wasn't the day for strawberries and grapes!

We continued this through the first few aisles. Felix threw everything with gusto into the trolley and I had to restrain myself from stopping to rearrange the contents of the trolley every few minutes (I'm a little bit pedantic about the neatness of my trolley - just ask Nathan; he learnt that the hard way). After a few aisles, Felix was getting heavy and, of course, I had picked a trolley with wheels that got more 'wonky' the more shopping I put in it. I put Felix back in his seat, which was fine until the shopping got high enough that he could reach it. He then thought it would be fun to throw the shopping 'out' of the trolley and onto the floor. The problem being that he is so quick now, as soon as I bent over to pick one thing up another thing went flying over my head. Little rascal! My only choice then was to carry him the rest of the way, pushing my wonky and exceptionally full trolley. A back massage would go down a treat right now!

Daddy's hat
I have met some beautiful people while out shopping. The majority of people treat Felix like a mini-celebrity. They come up to him and talk to him, making comments about his gorgeous smile or his laugh. Some ask questions about Down Syndrome and others just give me a 'knowing smile'. Every now and again, however, I come across some people who actually glare at Felix and shoot me quite nasty looks. When I was in the city earlier last week, I was at a large shopping centre with our eldest daughter, Amy (21). I had just finished telling her about a woman who had stared at Felix and given me an awful look, when another woman walked past and did exactly the same thing. Amy asked, "You mean like that?" She had noticed it at the same time I did. I still struggle to know what to do in that situation. I know some parents of children with Down Syndrome develop their own 'one-liners' to say in response, but I find myself rendered speechless. I try to smile at the person, but it probably comes out more like a grimace.

I mentioned this to my Mum later on that day. She started to cry. She said that she doesn't understand why people would react like that to Felix. To her, he is just Felix; and I agree. I'm baffled by the people (in my experience, usually women between 50-70) who feel the need to express disgust both towards Felix and me. I don't mind people who stare at Felix because they have noticed that he looks different and they are trying to work out why. Usually most of those people will have a look of recognition after a second or two and then smile at both of us. Sadly, there are that small percentage of people who show their disdain immediately; and if I'm honest, it can cast a shadow on what might have been a really lovely day. 

Dancing in the shops with Amy
I know that some people would just say, "Don't pay any attention" or "Be thankful that the majority of people are very positive". Most of the time I'm able to take that advice and don't let it bother me too much, but like everyone else, some days I feel more vulnerable than others. I think it hurts sometimes, because I want people to see Felix in the same way we see him; as a precious little boy who brings so much happiness to our lives and the lives of others. Yes, he looks a little different; but he is much more similar than he is different. If only everyone could give people with Down Syndrome a chance.

I have received some awesome messages from people telling me their stories of going up and speaking to someone with Down Syndrome for the first time; or sharing a smile with a child and their parents. I know I've said this before, but keep it up! You don't know the sort of day someone is having, and that smile or comment from you can make the world of difference to a person with Down Syndrome or their family member.  Thank you to those of you who are willing to make the effort and move out of your comfort zone to experience something different. It's a two way will make you feel good too!


  1. Kylie, I know exactly what you mean. I had a bit of a "moment" a few months ago where it suddenly hit me that not everyone will be as in love with our Supergirl as we are and it breaks my heart that many people are not going to appreciate what an amazing person she is.
    I think all we can do as Mums is keep getting our kids "out there", trying to show as many people as we can just how beautiful they are.

    1. What a beautiful little girl she is!!! I love the photo!!
      I think it's human nature to want to protect our kids; and those of us who are blessed with a little one with DS just want to show them off and let the world know how amazing they are!!!
      I agree with you. We have to be the better people; hold our heads up high and not be afraid to get 'out there'. Our kids WILL change the world, one person at a time :)
      I, for one, have no doubt that your Supergirl is every bit as amazing as you say x x x