We are super-duper-extra-blessed to be part of a homeschool group (more of an Extended Family, really) that completely rocks in every way. We started out as a tiny little off-shoot of an existing rockin' on-line homeschool group that welcomes members from at least half the state, when KitMama tossed out a call for "local" families to get together for a weekly Park Day. We started out with four families, and we have continued to grow over the past five (has it been that long????) or so years, and we are about twenty families now. Some families are not so local and have to drive an hour or more to meet up with us, including KitMama since her family's move last year. But, meet up, and support, we all do.
But regardless of location, what we all have in common is 1) we home-educate our children (and that includes a huge range of "styles" and "approaches", and 2) we all accept, support, and love one another. And, our kids pretty much do the same. Because, really, that's all they know. It's deeply ingrained in each family's culture, so the kids all reflect that.
This past December, we had two brand-new humans added to our little group. Sweatpea and Jude. Both were born into lovely, wonderful, loving families, and both were intently anticipated by not only their biological families, but by their homeschool family as well. Both arrived with their own dose of heart-clenching, breath-interrupting, world-rocking drama (I hate that word, but can't think of a better one right now). And both are loved, accepted, and adored by *all* of *us*.
Our extended family knows all about "special needs" and "learning quirks" and "deeply individual individuals." We are chock-full of 'em. Sensory processing issues, life-threatening allergies, invisible life-threatening diseases, learning challenges, mental disabilities, Aspergers, the Autism spectrum ... well, we've pretty much got them all. And, we love them all, because each kid is a unique human being that we love and appreciate for Who They Are. And, when William was diagnosed with T1, that love, acceptance, and support were the bedrock of our family's "adustment" to our "new normal."
(Here's the part where I could get all gooey and mushy and go on and on about how wonderful we all are. But, I will restrain myself and get to the point.)
Jude has Trisomy 21. More commonly known as Down's Syndrome. And, in our group, she's just Another Kid In The Bunch. Okay, a really sweet, adorable Kid In The Bunch. Which many, many of the the other Kids In The Bunch are drawn to. And want to hold and play with. And are bonding with. They're actually standing in line, asking permission to hold and play with her.
|Thomas-N-Jude's Mutual Adoration Society|
|Hanging with the Gaggle of Girls|
This is not extraordinary because a bunch of kids actually wants to hang out with a kid with Down's Syndrome. Although, that in itself is pretty cool.
This is extraordinary because 1) these kids, both boys and girls, genuinely want to spend time with a child who is not in their same age group, and 2) it doesn't even regsiter to them that Jude is any different from them.
She is One Of Them. Period.
And shouldn't that, in a nutshell, be what we all strive to work toward?
Take a couple of minutes to run over to Ginger's blog and see what she has to say about raising her daughter, Jude, and our culture's perception of people who are "different."