“Well, that’s silly,” the mother replied.
“No, it’s not,” said the boy, “Now it’s got Down syndrome all over it.”
The mother’s mouth opened but her heart stopped any reply. The boy’s mother, standing nearby, shuffled him away. No further words spoken.
Of course the mother imagined this scene before; she lived it in her mind the day her beautiful girl was born and the words “Down syndrome” came from the doctor’s lips. She lived it the first day she took her daughter in public. She lived it the first time she took her daughter to this new school and now… here in real life, it slapped her in the face.
She turned around, went to the car, and cried.
Amanda quietly asked, “Why are you crying?”
“Because I love you so much,” the mother replied.
She will relive these moments again in her mind: as she drives, as she sleeps, as she walks.
And I wish for her she can relive it with this reply:
“Oh! So your coat now has Down syndrome all over it? Wow! That makes it a very special coat.” She would look at the boy and say, “Because with a coat like that no one is judged unfairly. That kind of coat wants everyone to be happy.” She would take a deep breath and continue, even if the boy squirmed and his mother still said nothing, “There will never be a coat that works as hard. Harder than you’ll ever have to work just to make a sentence. In fact, I think a coat with Down syndrome all over it makes the playground a better place, with more imagination and kindness and a completely different perspective on what’s important. This coat doesn’t bully or…
You know what?
You’re pretty lucky. There are many amazing surprises that come with a coat like that.”
Because this is what should be said.