Can you hearken back to a time when things felt "NORMAL"?
On our first night there, we shared pizza with our cousins. Then 6 of us -- my family of 4 plus the oldest two of my cousin's 4 young daughters who joined us in the camper -- weathered a mighty thunder and lightening storm in the trailer beneath the branches of a mighty oak tree. There were 5 very brave kids and a tired Mom in that trailer... But, there was no evidence of Down syndrome.
A little while later, we made our annual trip to Cedar Lake. YES, I worried about being able to watch both of the boys in the water despite the presence of two very capable-looking lifeguards. I worried NOT because they have Down syndrome but because they're 4-year-olds who don't swim all that well... And because there's TWO of them and only ONE of me! But, they listened well and played in belly-button-deep water staying safely near Mommy's legs. Yes, they drank some lake water... just like I did when I played in this very lake as a 4-year-old... Just like "normal" kids. And, they screamed and splashed and watched the fishies swimming around their toes... Just like their mama did 42 years ago and for many years since. On the way out, we stopped at the snack shack and ate our ice-cream on the steps -- Like I used to do when I was a kid! What a picturesque summer, family vacation scene... devoid of even a hint of "special" needs.
Saturday morning, we packed the extended clan into 2 mini vans... off to see the oldest colonial parade in the United States. Fife and Drum Corps from all over the US come to participate in this 3-hour-long parade. Though the occasional musket- and cannon-fire were a bit loud for all of the kids, every one marched to the drum beat and applauded the passing paraders. Back at the house-on-the-hill, we had a big family-and-friends barbecue in the post-Muster tradition. I'd say it was all rest and relaxation but the truth is, my cousin's house is bordered on one side by a 30'-50' drop-off to a pond and waterfall, in front by a 2-story-high stone wall drop-off to the garage below (no fences or guard rails) and on every other side is woods... Woods riddled with poison ivy and ticks (2 towns from Old Lyme, Connecticut where Lyme disease was first discovered and named). I know I sound totally paranoid but it's a potentially dangerous spot for any kid. So NO, it was not very relaxing. I was counting kids from one end of the property to the other, My one-two-three and then my cousin's one-two-three-four... OK, all accounted for. With 10 seconds of peace before I'd start counting again. I cannot imagine how my mother (5 kids) and Aunt (10 kids) did it. I was in a constant state of worry that one of my children (or hers) would wander off either drop off or into the woods. Not relaxing... but totally and 100% "normal" in the normal sense of the word. I was a tad relieved when I finally saw their little eyes droop and the mouths stretch wide open in a hippo-sized yawn. It was nap-time -- code word for "hit the road" so the boys would sleep the whole way home.