Monday, April 6, 2009

The Scrapbook - Photo 4

This one took me a while to do. It was more difficult to go back to. If you haven't read the other parts, here are the links - photo 1, photo 2, and photo 3.

Part 4:

The next page is one that is worn. I keep going back to this time since Quinn entered my life. The photo is of me in high school, sitting in biology class. The teacher is talking about something interesting today, about this thing called Down syndrome. Normally I am bored to tears. Unfortunately, I was an underachiever at that time – rarely interested in what I was learning. Thankfully that changes in college. But this is a lesson from high school that I have kept will me for over 20 years. It was about something of interest to me, and although I didn’t know it at the time – of great significance. This topic of Down syndrome on that day in biology class makes me think about the extended family member at the Father’s Day reunion and the children in the cafeteria in middle school. It is rooted in my early experiences. It makes me think about the stereotypical haircut, glasses, and clothes. The teacher is telling us about what causes this – how it could happen to anyone. We learn about the dreaded mental retardation. I think how scary this must be given the fact that it can strike anywhere and at anytime, when you are just expecting a little one in your life – at a time when there should be happiness. Then the teacher continues and tells us that the life expectancy of individuals with Down syndrome is 25-years-old. This has stuck with me all these years – the life expectancy is only that long! Imagine only 25 years with your child. Then there is the thought that I have gone back to so much in the time Quinn has been with me – the reason why this page is so worn – “It must be sad to have a child like that.” Denial and egocentrism sets in, “Never mind, that won’t ever happen to me anyway.” I move on off that thought and into my own world again. How foolish I was. How many high school students today think the same way, only to fast forward in time and now learn that yes it will be you? Although this isn’t logical, I do believe that Quinn was my fate. But now looking back on this lesson in biology class, I know that times have changed. The teacher didn’t tell us that the reason why the life expectancy was so low was because the medical profession didn’t think it was worth their time to provide needed treatment to this population. They were mentally retarded after all, so why bother. Sad, but it was the thought of the time. The teacher didn’t tell us about institutionalization, forced experimental treatments, and other mistreatment that this population had to endure. No, the lesson was missing important information. But now I have a better teacher than I ever did in high school. I have a teacher that I am learning so much more from – the truth, the facts, the good, along with the bad. I have Quinn. And for this I am thankful. If all I ever knew about Down syndrome was from that biology class that day in high school, what kind of person would I be? I don’t even want to know.


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