Twice this week I read about some young woman who is friends with a young man with Down syndrome. That’s the whole story? Seriously?
The most recent example is Jennifer Lawrence –as of today an Academy Award winner–who has a friend with Down syndrome. I thought Silver Lining Playbook was a Hollywood-type love story – meaning impossible to believe – but I loved it and her in it. I am glad she got the Oscar. She deserved it.
What she does not deserve is getting credit for having a friend with Down syndrome. Or as Radar online described him – “… her Down syndrome friend”.
The article went on to elaborate – “Andy is such a devoted fan he’s dressing up in her honor to watch the Academy Awards on TV!”
That statement smacks of enthusiasm usually reserved for a small child rather than an almost adult and somehow it conveys this as an unusual occurrence. Here’s the thing – I know grown adults who dress up big time for Oscar parties in their own homes and they don’t know anyone personally getting an award. How fucking childlike are they?
They also quoted him upon hearing of her Oscar win – “I will say ‘Yay! Yay! Yay! ‘[And I] will have to be calmed down.” I say the same thing about five times a day and my husband has been known to say, “Calm down.” Or “Not right now.” Enthusiasm is a gift. Not like a “special person gift”. Just a regular old gift.
Today on my Facebook feed a post I first saw last year popped up – “Girl takes boy with Down syndrome to the prom!” At least they got the person first language right. I tried to find the origin of the story but I could only find a re-posting. Most of the replies to it were how great she is for committing a selfless act. The best response was – “Who cares if he has Down syndrome? He’s still going to look at her boobs.”
This phenomenon doesn’t exist just in the celebrity or the social media realm. Two different parents reached out to Ward and I this school year to let us know their children wanted to be Thorin’s friend.
This extending of friendship feels more like “outreach” and it’s accompanied by a lot of smiling and exuberance – “Isn’t great! They really like him!” (Forget if he likes them.)
You can tell they were proud of the fact their children liked Thorin. Proud of the fact they have taken any interest in him. I get this feeling I am going to be asked to write college references for these kids later.
Hopefully by that time being friends with someone who has Down syndrome will not be noteworthy.