I love this fun, sweet video.

Will Lawrence is a little boy with Down Syndrome. His Dad (Alan) came up with the hilarious and brilliant idea to take pictures of Will which make him seem to be suspended in mid-air – flying, as it were.  The result is an endearing portrait of a child who is fetching and fearless and absolutely ready for fun.

I showed it at a series of talks I gave in Delhi this week. My audience consisted of teachers and special educators and they were all familiar with kids with Down Syndrome. To a teacher, they loved it. They were glad and grateful to see “one of their own” having such a lovely time and being celebrated for the unique child he was.

I was just focused on the fun.

Boy with Derebral Palsy looking up at a woman - both are smiling broadly

It’s the easiest thing to miss out on when you enter the world of disability and it’s the most important to be sure to include. If you’re not having fun, you’re taking yourself, and your kid, too seriously. Parents of kids with disability make this mistake so often it’s close to being an epidemic.

Parents who don’t have fun with their kids worry all day. They are anxious and frightened and they feel like someone else is in charge of their lives. They are old before their time and they are always wondering what will happen when they die (they’re 34 years old!). They fret endlessly about what “might happen.” They pass up invitations to parties and outings and they restrict themselves to the bare minimum to get by because they don’t want to bother anyone else with their troubles. They miss out on spur-of-the-moment excursions, they don’t drop in on old friends and they tell the neighbours they’re managing just fine because God forbid they should appear weak or needy.

They are no earthly good to anyone.  All those neighbours who really want to help feel like they’ll be in the way if they offer. Their friends stop telling them about parties and events because they are tired of being turned down. And that child with a disability – the source of all their anxiety – never stops feeling like a burden and a problem.

So start having fun. That’s an order. From one who knows.

Woman and child in a selfie booth, both smiling and holding up big fake spectacles

Get out of your house and get out of your head and start doing fun things. Go to the park. Have a picnic lunch on your roof. Decorate someone’s chair in your office (use paper chains that you made with your son the night before). Put notes in your kids’ tiffins. Buy yourself some felt tip pens and some stickers and make greeting cards. Run a race with your husband. Peel an orange for your wife.

The simplest things can be fun. Use your imagination. Transform the ordinary with colour, add music to the same old routine, take a chance, throw a party.

Glass bottle containing matches with brightly coloured heads; ordinary match box with regular matches Just look at these two sets of matches and tell me which ones make you smile. There’s nothing wrong with the predictable, sturdy box of Homelites (Extra Long! Extra Strong!). But really. Once you’ve seen those rainbow ones? With the rainbow tag and the fancy glass bottle? Can you even think of preferring Old Reliable?

When you are having fun, you aren’t thinking. You aren’t worrying about the future or regretting the past. You are fully in the moment. Your kid is beautiful and full of promise. You look at her and you want to burst into song.

She can do anything. He can fly.

It’s up to you. And, believe me: that’s the only way to live.


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