Thursday, August 16, 2012

Missed Opportunity

I saw her in my rearview mirror as I sat down. I was in the library parking lot. We had made our weekly trek to the library for Lamb to do some summer reading tests and to check out books for vacation. We had spent an hour in there, searching for books, talking to other families from school, doing puzzles, and trying to keep Roo from completely melting down. (He's been especially... well... two-ish lately.) In other words, we got around in there.

And yet, I hadn't seen her. How had I missed her?

The almond eyes, the ears set just a little bit low, the small build. It was unmistakable. She is in our club. She was blessed with an extra chromosome.

She was beautiful. And cutely dressed. Around 5 years old, I would guess. And she was obviously having a grand time with her big sister and her mom. I took it all in quickly. I watched them head straight to the truck parked next to me.

And then I did a double-take of the mom. I know her, I thought. I couldn't tell you her name to save my life... but we went to high school together. I think she was a year ahead of me. Somehow Facebook hasn't reunited us. (Maybe she's smart enough to stay away from it...?) But I know her. We are doubly connected.

And I knew what I needed to do. I needed to open the door of the van. I needed to walk over and introduce myself. I needed to explain that we are part of the same family, not by blood or even (in my case) by adoption, but by genes. Chromosomes. The 21st chromosome, to be exact.

But I didn't do it. I stayed in the van. I watched them load up from the corner of my eye. I watched the mom take out her phone and make a call.

I can't go over there now, I told myself. I'll either have to interrupt her phone call, or I'll have to sit here and wait until she's done--and hope that she doesn't drive away first--and either way I'll look like an idiot.

So I put the van in reverse, half-satisfied with my justification, and left.

But that wasn't really the reason. I didn't go over there because I was embarrassed. So far the other DS mamas I have met have been at intentional meetings--play groups, the Buddy Walk, etc. I don't know how to approach someone "cold." What on earth would I say? "Hey, I see that your daughter has Down syndrome. My son does too." Really? That's pretty lame. And even then, what do I expect her to say in return? "No way! Let's exchange phone numbers RIGHT NOW and be BFFs!" Probably not.

Yep, it might have been awkward. And it might not have turned into a life-long friendship.

But... it would have been a connection. I would have known one more person in this world--in my COMMUNITY--who shares this journey. And so would she.

I should have said something.

Apparently, I need to work on my DS-mama-friend pick-up lines.


Looking Up said...

I know how you feel. I have a 3.5 yr old son who has DS & a few strangers have approached me "cold" on a couple of occasions. They were all so sweet & friendly, but I haven't been able to do the same yet. I've seen people out & about with children who have DS, & each time, I've wanted to run up to them & say "Hey! I'm part of the club too!", but couldn't bring myself to do it. Instead, I just watched them which was probably worse. :)

Becca said...

I used to find it so much more difficult than I do now. But trust me, she was probably used to whatever approach you could have thrown at her, and I'm willing to bet she would have been completely accepting. :-) However, don't beat yourself up about missing that opportunity. I'm sure there will be others. Btw, since you knew her at one time, or knew vaguely who she was, that would have been the easiest "in!" *Hey, I think we went to school together...I'm Katy...*