When we first started this adventure a year ago I was often at a loss of what to do with T. We were strangers. We each had a life before each other. We were adopted.
We didn’t really speak the same language – he could for the most part understand me but couldn’t tell me what was on his mind. We didn’t know each others likes or dislikes. Although, I had gathered he avoided anything resembling a vegetable and he knew I didn’t like the dogs barking. I figured that out when he walked around the living room wearing my slippers with his hands on his hips yelling, “Top! Top!” I found it a crude parody.
I think some of my early bonding with T. might have started in the grocery store. I like to shop and eat. I picked this habit up from my dad. Not thinking, one day I opened up a bag of crunchy Cheetos and started eating. T. made the sign for “eat” so I gave him a Cheeto. By the time we got to the check out our hands and lips were that weird Cheeto orange. The cashier even commented, “Oh, look at you two and your orange faces!” Ok, we might have eaten a few too many but I thought – we love Cheetos! Emphasis on “we”. Yea!
Cheetos became part of our shopping experience. That was how we rolled. One day, a lady was walking toward us in the diaper aisle. She looked like the kind of mother who monitored TV watching and cooked nutritious meals for her family. I almost closed the Cheetos bag and shoved them under the YoBaby yogurt. We each had a Cheeto in our hands, gritty with orange dust, when she reached us. She said, “Those aren’t good for him.” I said, “I know but he’s addicted to them.” What made me say that? I don’t know what she did but he and I cracked up – it was this cosmic moment where we got each other. I’m sure he hadn’t understood what “addicted” meant but he understood something and it was funny. I have to say my delivery was impeccable – I really killed it.
There have been more poignant moments this last year. But, that moment was the kind of stuff I loved about being with my dad. My dad liked to shake it up and he loved junk food. Wow, I was passing something on unconsciously! It was a revelation! I was a parent! Did I wish I had more to offer than crappy foodstuffs and an authority defiance disorder? Yes, of course, but it was still an awesome thing.
It has been a great year. Sure, I have wondered how different it would have been if I were a smarter or better parent – but one thing I have never wondered is how it would be different if T. didn’t have Down syndrome. And, I know my dad would totally dig that.