It's never happened to me before.
Asher and I were in the store check-out line. In front of us was a young mom with a boy around 7 years old. The boy turned and saw Asher standing behind him. "Hi!" he said to Asher.
Asher immediately waved "Hi." back.
"Hey! That's now how you say, hi!" the boy said. "Open your mouth and say hi!" he demanded.
I quickly responded, "That's how he says hi. He talks with his hands using sign language."
His mom jumped in, "See? You learned something today. You learned how to say "hi" in sign language. Isn't that cool?"
The boy didn't look very happy with our response. He looked back to Asher. "You're supposed to talk with your mouth. Just open it and say hi." His mother, looking mortified, roughly turned him away as she leaned down and whispered a lecture in his ear.
I looked down at Asher. At that very moment I wanted to do two things at once. First, I wanted to get in the kids face and tell him some things are better kept in your thinking bubble. Then I wanted to leave. Forget paying for our stuff because at that moment I was feeling tears well up in my eyes.
A 10 second exchange with a little boy brought me to tears. In nearly 16 years of parenting kids with Down syndrome I've never had anything like this happen to me. But wait...it didn't happen to me, it happened to Asher! That's what upset me so; that it happened to Asher. The boy didn't even say anything mean, really, but I instantly pictured Angela walking through her high school. How often does this happen to her? How often do people give her a hard time? And Axel? Does this happen to him? So what that neither Axel or Asher would understand the words the boy used, they both certainly understand the tone behind them.
We didn't bolt from the store, but when Asher and I did get to the car I gave him a big hug. "You're perfect Asher. Everything about you is perfect."