Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It Is About More Than American Idol

I cried. I actually cried. Tears welled up in my eyes as I learned the fate of Maddy Curtis. I felt a pain deep down in the center of my heart. I suppose some may think that I went overboard in my reaction to this young, talented girl I don't even know, but tonight was about much more than just a television program. It was about much more than American Idol. It was about acceptance for my daughter. It was about hope for her future being free from discrimination and hate.

Let me tell you about another experience this week, it might help you understand where I am coming from. I went to Target with Aidan this week. We were going along with our cart down the aisle. I could tell up ahead there was a woman with DS pushing her cart. I could just tell from behind - you tend to look for these signs when you have a child with special needs. This was the second time this week alone that I saw someone with DS. Normally I sneak glances at the individual with DS, glancing and wondering will be Quinn's future if this person is an adult, but this time was different. Instead of looking at the woman, I looked around me and took in other people's reactions. I watched the crowd around me. I saw a child watching this woman. He was walking backwards, unable to turn away from her. He had a disgusted look on his face. I saw his mother look and ignore his reaction to this woman. I saw ignorance. I saw discrimination. I saw hate. I decided right then and there that I have been approaching these types of situations entirely wrong. I will no longer steal glances at the individual with DS, I will instead watch those who think that no one is watching them. I will watch them. And I will let them see how it feels. I began staring at the child with a disgusted look on my own face until this child looked at me, noticed, and turned away. Sure, it is a child. I am an adult. Maybe it isn't nice of me, but I am tired of hate, prejudice, and discrimination. I see that this starts early. And it grows. It festers. It turns into use of words that hurt. It causes pain.

I then turned to watching Aidan. Thankfully, he saw this woman, glanced at her, and then kept on talking and going about his business. I was so proud of my baby boy in that moment. I know that Quinn has touched our lives so much. I know that my boys will be better people for having Quinn. I get Maddy Curtis' message. I feel it in my heart.

So why do I care about Maddy Curtis? Because she represented hope for me....hope that others will see the beauty and love in the faces of individuals with DS and the faces of those who love them. Her brothers would have been cheering her on in the audience. DS would have been discussed. Maybe it would have been possible for others to see some positive images of DS instead of the multitude of negative ones. She represented my hope that one less person would stare and look like that at my daughter. I am so sorry Maddy that this didn't work out for you. You just don't know how sorry I am. Thanks for sharing your story and the beauty of having someone with DS in your life. I thank you. Quinn thanks you. We all thank you. It was about so much more than a television show for us.



  1. I know what you mean about learning to look. I look at so many people I turned my head from before. Who knew that people loved their little girl's in wheel chairs, and that they were dressed like princesses too? I do now. What a gift Violette and Quinn have taught us!

    As for Maddy - she will be ok - not sure if you read her mother's blog or not!


  2. I stupidly snuck a peek at a AI spoiler blog and learned of Maddy's fate a few weeks ago. I was sad, but not going to spoil it for others. Yet, it was hard to watch. Hard for her and hard that we wouldn't get to see more of her and her family. As her mom said, she's only 16 and has plenty of time to do great things. Next year?

    I too find myself locking eyes with people that I didn't used to on a regular basis. However, it's usually someone with a developmental or physical disability. I try to engage those who might be typically ignored while also trying not to single them out as being different. I find that's a hard line to walk. Isn't is a trip what our girls have done for our worlds?