Sunday, November 13, 2011

Taking care of business.


My 1958 Chevrolet Apache 
This post is along the lines of the Twins post, just a bit more personal and in depth.  As a father and teacher I believe it is important to include my children and students in my interests.  I feel it's important to always be myself and encourage the little ones in my life to be as much a part of my hobbies as possible. This also sets a standard for behavior, how I expect them to act when they're out with me.

I've seen parents that want nothing to do with their child with Down syndrome in public.  I cannot relate to that.  I've always toted all three of my kids everywhere, including the one with Down syndrome.  Judah and I kind of prefer to hang out with each other all the time anyway.  I think he's rad and I guess he likes me a good deal too.  Doing so sets the expectations of how they should act in public, but more importantly it includes them in everyday life.  They get exposed to the outside world and parents can continue to enjoy their own interests and take care of business as usual.

I like skateboarding, punk rock, and old cars.  Many times I can include my kids in much of my own outings, as long as the volume's not too loud.  Being in a car club and having old rides allows me the opportunity to attend car shows, etc more than the average person I suppose.


Punk rock and car shows are two of my biggest hobbies and I include my family every chance I get.  We all have a blast and my kids know how to act appropriately in public, even Judah.  They're good kids, and it is possible to have a kid with Down syndrome that doesn't act like a wild animal.  I've seen it time and again with many buddies whose parents set high expectations for them.  I've also seen the opposite a few times.

 

Some seriously sensitive dudes.


Most of us in the car club have families who also enjoy playing and getting into mischief together.

Little Ghouls.  Notice my little grease monkey on the right.

I'm not saying I have it all figured out, but I am proud of the way my kids act in public most of the time.  As with most kids, they have their moments, but we have always set high expectations for them.  No parent wants to deal with an unruly kid; make it easier on yourself and knock out poor behavior in the early stages of life and hopefully you won't raise a spoiled brat.  Children with Down syndrome obviously have different needs than other kids, but they still require discipline and their expectations should be the same as any other kid.  Trust me, they are more than capable, it just takes work.


My little guy.

Please don't mistake my intent here.  My wife and I do not live vicariously through our children.  Our lives are interesting and exciting enough that we don't need to push our children to be "mini-me's" or the "sports star" that I never was.  As children grow they will develop their own interests.  If some of those are similar to mine, that's awesome.  If not, that's okay too.

My youngest, Aveline, posing in my '58.

My three favorite kids in the whole world.

We're kind of a big deal.    

My point is this, for you parents of children with Down syndrome, take your buddy with you everywhere you go!  Model and explain to them how you expect them to act.  Use positive and negative reinforcement as often as you need to.  I use many forms of discipline, including spankings, without apology.  Sometimes it is difficult for me to discipline my children.  The thing that helps me is to remind myself of some truly horrible kids and adults that don't comprehend what discipline and correction is.  As a parent, we do the whole world a favor by correcting our children.  If you don't support swats, find a method that works for you; there are plenty of others I use as well.

Ghouls Night Out 2011.

One last thing, don't be afraid that your buddy may be stared at or made fun of in public.  It's going to happen.  Suck it up and be an adult about it.  If you can use the situation to promote advocacy of people with disabilities, then everyone wins.  If not, take one situation at a time.  The world is full of cruel people.  Just remember open arms are better than a closed fist; but when the open arms don't work, knuckle up and swing away!


Ah, one of my other hobbies.

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