My husband and I choked on those words, expressed by a well-meaning relative at a family gathering when our daughter was 4 years old. Dating? She was barely toddling.
I hadn’t let my mind go there yet. But the thought, spoken aloud, broke a little piece of my heart. Not that I was in denial, but I wasn’t ready to give up on the possibility. I thought to myself, “Baloney Macaroni, we’ll just see about that.“
Turns out Noni went to more homecoming dances and proms than any of her siblings! And her escorts would tell you that she was The. Best. Date. Ever.
She dances the night away. With everybody. Until the shoes come off and the updo gets upended. She once joined in her sister’s slow dance, making it a threesome, and making everyone smile.
Proms and homecomings started with a pre-reception at our home for the whole group of friends with special needs who paired up for the night. Picture all of them gathered around the piano singing at the top of their lungs, while Greg, with musical talents and Down syndrome, played his repertoire – of church hymns!
For the parents, it was an alleluia moment.
And how about the year Noni’s date was her friend Seth, from a neighboring high school. What a good-looking couple they made, his mom and I agreed.
Athletic Seth was especially excited for post prom at the rec center, where he headed straight for the popular climbing wall, determined.
After multiple attempts to scale the wall, Seth had made little progress, with no sign of giving up. A line of eager teens awaiting their turn was growing.
All eyes fell on his mom. “Don’t look at me,” she said. “I’m not going to tell him he can’t do it.“
And neither would anyone else. One by one, four dads gripped Seth’s safety harness using all their might to help hoist him to the top, with a chorus of kids chanting “Seth, Seth, Seth!”
You guessed it. With a little help from his new friends, he reached the top, beaming. And the place went crazy.
Proof positive that inclusion lifts us all up.