Nina walked in her second Buddy Walk® this year! (Well, ok, truth be told our family and friends did, she fell asleep in the stroller for the Walk itself - but that's ok!) Her brother Alec was right by her side, with his best friend Nate. The trio ends up together a lot. These seven-year-old second grade boys could not be more caring and sweet to Nina. They fight to push her stroller; they celebrate when she says something new; and they comment on her adorable clothes and how tall she looks now. Who knew these boys who love potty humor and already have formed cliques at school could be so sensitive! But, they aren’t being consciously sensitive are they? They just love her, enjoy her, know she’s cute, and love to celebrate her and teach her. Now there is an added dimension- they know she has a thing called Down syndrome. And that’s ok too- it’s just an explanation of what they already know and see every day, part of who Nina is.
Just a couple months ago, right as Nina’s brother Alec was turning seven, he asked me, “what does 3:21 on our shirts mean anyway?” I answered something like, “do you want the real scientific explanation? It’s because she has three copies of the 21rst chromosome. You've heard us say she has Down syndrome, so this is what that means, that's why she needs extra help and support and we're so proud of her!" From that moment on it just clicked, and he used the word Down syndrome to describe people we know, and how she’s the best kid with Down syndrome ever - of course! I knew this year’s Buddy Walk® would be so much more meaningful. That the medal he got at the end of the Walk would be something he was very proud of because he knows that his sister has a disability and it doesn’t matter, and that we should explain that to other people so they can get it like he gets it at age seven!
I am so thankful for both my kids – they teach me so much, each in their own way. And I love that they have each other. I remember my husband was particularly concerned about Alec’s life and future when Nina was born. They have already shown us that they are both so lucky to have one another. This year’s Buddy Walk® is only the beginning, but it’s so exciting to see a glimpse of the future of big brother enjoying celebrating his little sister for who she is. Maybe next year she’ll stay awake long enough to enjoy more than the cotton candy!