Everyone Has the Right to Slide

I read a wonderful book called Angel Behind The Rocking Chair. The author, Pam Vredevelt, has a son with Downs and shares stories of his life. On March 5, 2009 Nathan Vredevelt passed away. He was 16 years old. Nathan was at a basketball game with a caregiver and his sister in a luxury box, so when he asked to use the restroom it was no big deal. But the door was locked, so Nathan wandered out of the box, out of the building, and onto the highway where he was struck by a car. He was in critical condition for several days before passing quietly in his sleep.

Can you even imagine what the family was going through at this time? The fear? The questions? The heartbreak? And in this time of tragedy there were people who had the nerve to kick them in the gut. Some out of ignorance, and some, it seemed, on purpose.

The original article about the accident said, "Some people have asked why would he even be at a Blazers game."

Are you freaking serious?! Nathan had Down syndrome. That did not make him incapable of enjoying sports. Of having a normal life. Of finding pleasure in fun. That is just as absurd as asking why a 16 year old boy would be at the game. Because that's exactly what Nathan was. I cannot believe that people voiced such stupidity and spewed discriminatory remarks when a life hung by a thread and a family was shattered.

The comments left on that news article ripped my heart out. In re-reading the article, I see that the worst comments were deleted, thank goodness. But I saw them. I now know that people think these things, and it hurts. How many of those ignorant people are out there, thinking unkind things about my dear boy and others like him? How many people see my boy on a day-to-day basis and wonder why he has the right to shop in Wal-Mart just like they do? How many are upset that he eats in restaurants with "normal" people? How many think that my son doesn't deserve to be treated like a person just because he has a disability?

There are still people that judge others based on appearance and IQ. While these people are the uneducated ones and I shouldn't care what they think or say, I do. Their next target may be my son. How can I tell him or my other children to ignore it? How can I ask them to let it go? Words hurt, and judgment goes deep. Being a mother, I take offense when someone slights my children. If a kid pushes mine out of the way to go down the slide first at the playground, it's a mother's instinct to want to shove that kid right back. I don't, of course, but you know the feeling.

My son has a lifetime of bullies out there just waiting to tell him that he doesn't deserve to slide. And so help me, I'll be only too glad to push them to the back of the line.

My boy has Down syndrome, and I'm incredibly proud of him
. He has the right to slide on this playground of life, and I'm right behind him every step of the way to be sure that he is granted that right.

18 comments:

the planet of janet said...

*stands up and applauds wildly*

well said, darlin', well said.

Karen Deborah said...

YOU WONT BE ALONE!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Do you follow the Women's Colony blog/magazine? Did you listen to Mrs. G's Soundprint documentary that she links to about her daughter's skin disease?

Flea said...

You go, girl. :)

red pen mama said...

Karen, I am so sorry you were hurt by ignorant, stoopid comments left by people responding to that article. I hope you know that there are at least two people -- probably more -- for every one of them, who are in your corner, and proud to know you and your son.

So, yeah! What you said. :)

ciao,
rpm

Trisha said...

Your son and others with Down Syndrome certainly DO have the right to have a wonderful, full life. People are just weird. And stupid!

SunflowerMom said...

Ugh! I am not even going to look at those comments! Ignorance is astounding.

You better believe that I am in your corner- our boys can go where their hearts desire!

caramama said...

While I know those people are out there, I still can hardly believe it. What is wrong with people? How could anyone possibly think that someone with disabilities shouldn't have all the same interests and opportunities that anyone else does? Ugh! It's just gets me sooooo mad!

I'm behind you, Karen. I will continue to watch out for all kids to make sure everyone gets a turn on the slide.

Michelle said...

Wow. That is one of my greatest fears... and people are saying such horrible things. I can only hope that the reason they are is not because they believe things like that but that they are so afraid that it will happen to them that they have to find a way to distance themselves from even the possibility of it touching their lives. Not that this makes it better or acceptable, but it makes walking out in the community slightly more palatable. I at least understand fear reactions (and mistakes) but anger and hatred and bigotry much less so.

Momisodes said...

I haven't seen the comments, but from what you've said, they already make me incredibly sad. It's tragic that these people walk among us.

I'll be standing right beside you, Karen.

Burgh Baby said...

*applauds*

Andrea said...

Who ever asked that question is obviously very closed minded and self centered. You would love to meet this lady I met the other day. She has a four children. The oldest is 14, then there is Julie, who is about 12. Julie has downs. Then she has twin boys, one of the twins has a type of dwarfism. She is an incredible mom. You know where I met her? At a rodeo. All of her kids ride in the rodeo!! Julie gets on her four year old paint mare and does barrels, poles, stakes, flags, and straight away barrels. She is an amazing mom. Then after all her kids ride. She gets up on her horse and blows everyone away!!

Micah is amazing, and you should be proud of him.

Karen said...

Amen! My heart goes out Vredevelt Family.

mommaof4wife2r said...

people are mean and cruel sometimes and don't know what to do with their own anger.

anyway, i just wanna say that i love that little dude...and micah is too precious and you should be proud. he's awesome.

i had a hs girl die in a car accident in my youth group a few years ago and the people on the news comments made the rudest comments and asusmptions. very hurtful.

anyway, i'm sorry that you were hurt and there were mean words. you don't deserve that.

Irene said...

Well, if any of those idiots try to say one smidgen of a negative thing towards your sweet Micah, they better be prepared to deal with US! Yup, you have some seriously tough chicks in your corner.

Krista said...

My 8 year old daughter came to my work for lunch and I took her in the working area to meet some clients. The table we visited were all men that have Down's. She has never met someone with DS and thought they were so cute. I wrote a post about it that I'll put up in a couple of days, but I was so glad she had the great experience.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Oh Karen, petty people like those don't even deserve our attention. You will reap blessings they can't even imagine. Shallow stupid people. I am glad I didn't see the remarks or comments. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut with things like that.
THIS post needs to be published.

JennyH said...

That is so sad. I cannot even imagine losing a child. I thought the book was pretty good as well.