Two years old!! My baby is 2 years old… I can’t believe it! She had such a lovely birthday celebration…
We had a birthday party for her on the Saturday before her birthday – she loved being the centre of attention and was thrilled when everyone sang happy birthday to her!!
We let her do a “cake smash” where all the kids were given cakes to eat with their hands. Most of the children were a bit apprehensive – not Seren, she was in her element and got stuck right in!
We celebrated her “actual” birthday in a low key family way… still, she enjoyed every minute!
Thinking back now to when Seren was born, I realise how far we have all come. Even though I “prepared” myself for Seren having Down’s syndrome, I didn’t have any concept of what that would actually mean for her, or for us as a family. I read as much as I could on the internet, I bought “The Specials” on DVD and I found myself turning into a *starer* whenever I saw someone with Down’s syndrome – especially children, and yet this didn’t prepare me one bit for Seren.
After she was born, a couple of medical professionals told me (in one way or another) not to have any expectations of Seren. I guess they meant that in a nice way and perhaps it was in response to my reaction to her postnatal diagnosis… I was happy after all, and usually the more normal response of parents is not one of immediate positivity. I think they regarded me with caution and on several occasions I got the distinct impression that they thought I was either in some form of denial or indeed completely bonkers. I was neither. I was simply delighted with my gorgeous newborn and the number of chromosomes she had seemed to be of more interest to those around me than it did to me. I did however realise that I didn’t have expectations of Ava when she was born, so I didn’t have any of Seren… I don’t mean that I didn’t expect them to achieve anything, just that I would empower them to do what they wanted and hopefully raise happy children. I just never fell into the type of parent that “expected” anything of my kids and what I wanted them to achieve – they are their own people after all, with their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes. Who am I to try and mould them to do what I expect? I am proud of them no matter what they achieve, and I will love all 3 of my children with all my heart no matter what they do or don’t accomplish in their lives.
Now then, what I really didn’t expect, was how much Seren has achieved in the first 2 years of her life. No, its not to the same level as Ava’s development was by 2 years old, but my word – she has done so well! She is walking (hooray!), she can use enough gesture and sign language to communicate with us, she climbs, explores, plays… she throws whopping tantrums… she is stubborn and naughty and challenging. She is NOT happy all the time. She is NOT “very loving” all the time. She is her own person, she has her own personality and she is just Seren.
I still find it sad that there is such a tendency to bat round old stereotypes… I find it sad that Down’s syndrome is feared enough for it to have such a high termination rate… I don’t understand it. People say to me “oh but you are lucky, she’s not severe…” and it makes me want to scream! Actually the chances of being “severe” these days are so greatly reduced because of how we treat our children and include them in normal life and how much more accepting society is. It is almost assumed now that children with Down’s syndrome attend a mainstream school (at least to begin with) and provision is made to get the best from our kids. Years ago, babies and children were institutionalised, hidden away, they were under stimulated…. of course they appear “severe”! Any child would struggle to develop in those circumstances, let alone one with learning difficulties.
All of a sudden, I find that Seren is making me develop expectations… far from plodding along blindly into the future, Seren is exciting me, she is showing me that she CAN, and I don’t doubt that she WILL. I don’t mind a bit if she is in mainstream education setting or in a special school, I don’t care how much help she is going to need, I don’t care how much time and effort we are going to have to put in – all I can tell you is that to me, success is relative to each of my children and they will all make me proud whatever they do.
Oh, and one final thing… I can report that 4 days after her 2nd birthday, Seren started pre-school. A mainstream pre-school under normal ratio’s. My only wish was that she would WALK into pre-school on her first day… and guess what? She RAN… Life doesn’t get better than moments like this… the word “proud” doesn’t cut it –