Friday, July 13, 2012

Ladies Man

Here’s the heartbreaking thing. For us parents of adults with Down syndrome, our kids grow up. But they don’t grow out. Well, some don’t. I suppose there are some who don’t need the assistance of a caregiver to create their socialization.

What do I mean by growing out? I’m talking about growing out of themselves. Not spending every hour or every day alone, insulated. Being able to have a real social life, doing guy things, going out with girls, which is exactly what they want. But young men like my Charley can’t just get in the car and go hang out with his friends.

First, he attends a special needs class, and his friends can’t take off and hang out with each other either. Not without the adults in their lives creating “play dates.” That’s what they are called when they are little. But for the young adults who live the reality of DS every day, it's called inappropriate flirting. Just let him get in the vicinity of an attractive server at a restaurant, and he’s likely to blurt out something like, “Oh, He-llo!” or, “You purrty!” And then the rest of the evening is spent with him yelling, "I like you!" And, of course, there's the final word - "Call me!" 

People like Charley want to phone their peers and go on dates. But when they meet someone they like they have a built-in way of not getting the phone number. It's called forgetting to ask for it. Or when they do have a phone number and call the girl, they aren't able to verbalize what they are thinking. They just hold the phone and say, "What doin'" or, "Hi," and that's about the extent of the conversation. I've seen this happen before. 

And dating? Who picks up a date without a driver’s license? There’s nothing Charley would like more than to get himself a smooch but how’s he going to do that with his Mom (or Dad) driving the car? 

I’ve been trying to fix him up with girls who have Down syndrome for years.  I figure it will put him on a level playing field. But he won’t have any part of it. And why? Because he’s in denial about his Down syndrome.

One afternoon he heard me talking about him on the phone. I said the words “Down syndome.”

He stopped what he was doing and looked up.

“Huh? You say dat word?”

“All I said, was “Down syndrome.”

“Not me,” he said.

“You have Down syndrome, Charley.”

“FWEAK!” he said, and then crossed his arms, offended.

“Charley, there’s nothing wrong with having Down syndrome.”

“I NO have it,” he said.

“Don’t deny who you are, son. You are quite wonderful,” I said.

He grinned, and said, “Oh, kank-u.”

Brad took him swimming with the Down syndrome group later that evening. When he got home he said he’d met a girl.

“What’s her name?”

“Dat girl.”

“Did you get her phone number?”


“How are you going to ask her out if you don’t have her number?”

“Mom, no date, dus fwents.”

I hate to say it, but he’s pining after another girl but she’s already got a boyfriend. Who among us didn’t go through the same thing when we were young? Broken hearts. The kid is in love. It sucks.

As I’m sitting here writing this, Charley is sitting on the couch listening to Trace Adkins, blasting us out of the living room.

Honky Tonk Badonkadonk…

Now Honey, you can't blame her
For what her mama gave her
It ain't right to hate her
For workin' that money-maker
Band shuts down at two
But we're hangin' out till three
We hate to see her go
But love to watch her leave
With that honky tonk badonkadonk
Keepin' perfect rhythm
Make ya wanna swing along
Got it goin' on
Like Donkey Kong
And whoo-wee
Shut my mouth, slap your grandma
There outta be a law
Get the Sheriff on the phone
Lord have mercy, how's she even get them britches on
With that honky tonk badonkadonk
(Ooh, that's what I'm talkin' bout right there, honey)

“I a ladies man!” he says.

“Watch it, son,” I say.

“I like it.” He says.

It’s one of his favorites. He’ll play it until he knows every word too. Over, and over, and over. And over again.

And to put it in Charleyverbiage, “I might squeam.”

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