I brought T to school late a few weeks ago. I signed in at the front desk and walked him to his classroom.
I thought I would quickly sneak him in and dash. We entered the classroom – as quietly as possible. One kid turned around and when he saw us yelled, “T!”
And then bedlam ensued. Twenty-two kindergartners rose as one and ran towards us. I instinctively grabbed T and backed up closer to the door. Screaming his name they descended upon him.
Ms. Strauss, his teacher, and Mrs. B, his ed-tech, flew into action – each calling out things like, “Stop!” “Back to your seats!”
But, they didn’t stop. He soon became lost in a huddle of five and six-year-olds. I couldn’t see his face at one point. I joined the other two adults in gently peeling the kids off of him. Everyone settled back down after much direction by Ms. Strauss, “No more, now.”, “Let him sit down.”, “Stop touching him”, “We are going to get going again”.
I never left my spot by the door. My mouth might have been opened. Mrs. B walked back to me.
Smiling, “Overwhelming isn’t?”
I nodded, “I guess any change really throws kids, uh?”
Laughing she said, “Not changes – T. That happens all the time.”
Without thinking I blurted, “Holy crap! He’s like Elvis!” *
We have had total strangers – usually adults with their children – come up to us at a neighborhood store, restaurant or park calling out T’s name. T waves ‘the red carpet wave’ perfected by the famous.
Last week, a girl who looked to be about ten passed us on the way into school, “Hey, T, high five!” To which he obliged.
I asked her, “Is your brother or sister in his class?”
“Do you go to the Rec program then?”
“No.” (So blasé and annoyed sounding.)
“So, how do you know T?”
“Everyone knows T.” (Duh!)
I could give you countless stories like this since school has started. I am not bragging here. We can’t take credit for any of it.
Th has charisma. Some of that is T-In-All-His-Glory-As-He-Literally-Struts-His-Stuff, some of it is he is small and undeniably adorable and some is the fact he has Down syndrome.
By ‘Down syndrome’ I mean I have seen scary white boys who look like members of the Aryan Brotherhood with angry faces and bad vibes break into wide grins at the sight of my son. Sure, T has blue eyes and blond hair and maybe they see a future recruit. But, I would like to think they see something else like his gentle soul.
I shared with T recently that I was never the popular kid in school – never ever. He smiled and nodded, patting my arm, “Yea.”
It sounded a lot like, “How could you have been, Dork?”
* There are some people – adults and children – who very clearly do not see him as a Rock Star. I have no idea what’s wrong with them, but, whatever it is must be bad.