I signed Antalya up for a Jump and Dance class at our local art center. Today was the first session. She was really hesitant to go, because to her, anytime it's just me and her leaving the house she thinks we are headed to the doctor. She was happy when, even after all my insisting that we were not going to the doctor, we went somewhere that didn't at all resemble a doctor's office.
We had to wait several minutes while all the children arrived and filled out their questionnaire. Antalya stayed very busy running up and down the halls and pushing the buttons for the elevator. When it was finally time to go inside she did an amazing job of sitting next to the wall with all the other children and waiting. But as soon, as they asked all the children to stand up, the craziness began (sorry, but no pictures were allowed in the studio).
Antalya LOVES watching herself in the mirror. To have suddenly found herself in room with so many mirrors was more than she could resist. I let her do her own thing for awhile which included a really cool, funky moon-walk type thing on all fours, running, jumping, screaming at herself in the mirror, etc. But after about 5 minutes of this I realised that if I let her do what she wanted instead of listening to the teacher and following instructions, that the next 10 weeks that's exactly what she would do. So to Antalya's dismay, I insisted that she calm down and listen, and follow instructions. I carried her out of the room kicking and screaming several times.
By the end of the 45 minute lesson I was completely worn out and Antalya was just mad that she couldn't do what she wanted to do. What would you have done? Should I have just let her completely disrupt what the teachers were trying to do with the other children?
The thing that bothers me the worst is feeling all the other parent's eyes on me, and almost hearing them say to themselves, "I'm so glad that's not my child." I hate it because I love Antalya so much. I love how her having Down syndrome has changed me and changed our family. I wouldn't trade her for all the world. And so, I it really bothers me when she acts in a way that would make other people think what a difficult thing it would be to have a child with Down syndrome. Does that make any sense? I just want her to show the world that Down syndrome is a beautiful thing, and that she is more like all her peers than she is different.
Having just said that, I realise it's not fair for me to put such expectations on her. She's only four! So what is the answer? What do I do in a year from now when she is absolutely too big for me to carry out of room if she throws a tantrum. I know a lot of children with DS are smaller than average, but not my Antalya. She is just as tall as most of her peers, and easily weighs more than 45 lbs. Do I just let her do what she wants to do? I don't know what the answer is. So for now, I will just continue to try to do the right thing, making more than my fair share of mistakes along the way, and giving thanks every night that Antalya's love for me is so unconditional.
And hopefully when this 10-week dance course is finished I can say that I was glad we did it!