I pushed my sleepy, fussy son in his stroller to the check-out counter at the local consignment shop. My plan for him to fall asleep in the car and snooze while I shopped didn't go as well as I had hoped. The sleeping in the car part was perfect, but the transfer from car seat to stroller didn't go so well. Still, I was pleased with my bargain finds: a brand new ceramic picture frame that reads "Birthday Boy" and an adorable cake topper that looks like a colorful, multi-layered cake with candles. (Benjamin's 3rd birthday is just around the corner)! They both still had their original store tags. In the store I would have paid $36.00 before tax; at the consignment shop I paid a total of $5.00! That's my kind of shopping!
Any way, as we reached the counter, the lady working the register exclaimed to the other lady assisting behind the counter, "Oh look! He's a Down's baby!" She then proceeded to tell me about a little boy she knows who has Down syndrome, who we happen to know as well. Both ladies commented on how cute Benjamin is and were sympathetic to his sleepy state. I smiled and chatted with them a bit, knowing that they meant no disrespect, but I was cringing on the inside. I have never liked the term "Down's baby" or "Down's child." I feel like this type of language slaps a label on my son that places his disability at the forefront of determining his identity.
After we arrived home I thought about how I would like to handle a similar situation next time. Do I remain silent about it, knowing that the person had good intentions and was not trying to be rude, or do I find a way to gently confront and build awareness that will hopefully help them to be more sensitive to others in the future? Maybe next time I can politely reply with something like, "Yes my son happens to have Down syndrome. His name is Benjamin." I want people to see my son, not just a disability.