My friend of over twenty years Ken came for a visit not long ago from San Francisco. Being a debonair, coolio Ken doesn’t have much contact with children and limited knowledge of children with Down syndrome. Imagine a younger, better looking Clifton Webb in the film Sitting Pretty (1948). (Webb plays Mr. Belvedere a mannered gentleman who takes a nanny position as an intellectual challenge)
Related information – When once childless friends become parents’ it can be a challenge to their pre-children friends. The old friends need to be reassured you still swear, gossip and pay attention to them.
Upon meeting Thorin, Ken asked him if he could touch his hair – his beautiful, silky four-year-old doll hair. Thorin was immediately entranced.
They clicked. Ken talked to Thorin like an adult and Thorin rose to the challenge by signing and talking up a storm. When he couldn’t think of the words he needed he made up words conveying them with deep inflection and Ken got it.
They got on so well I found myself asking Ken if he had ever watched a four-year-old and he said, “Well, when I was fourteen.” I blithely responded, “They haven’t changed much since then.” and ran out the door to pick Ward up at work.
When we returned Ken was mopping up milk from the carpet. Very deadpan, “Your son threw his milk.” A sure sign Thorin was comfortable was by throwing things. He really liked – and more importantly, trusted – Ken!
Two things stand out from Ken’s trip. One, he said to me, “He seems smart. I didn’t expect that.” Two, he said, “You said he was amazing and I thought it was typical parent talk but he is really amazing.”
Thorin is a goodwill ambassador for the Down syndrome community by proving once again it’s not what you might think.