Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"My" Book

Okay, I didn't see this one coming.

Oh, how I underestimate that extra chromosome of his.
And while I’m at it, what gives me the right to assume he doesn't know what’s going on?

The fact is, he’s very aware. Maybe even more than I. It’s been a much anticipated event in our house, waiting for the book.

Here’s what happened…

I left for work yesterday morning and didn't arrive home until around 8:15 pm. In the meantime, the mail truck came, the box was opened, and the book unearthed. I arrived home to find that Brad had placed the book on the table under the light (thought he’d surprise me). Except for one thing; my phone was ringing and ringing. Every few minutes. It was Charley, telling me a box had arrived, and could he have it please?

When I got home the first thing he said to me was, “I want dat book.”

I walked over, picked it up, held it up and said, “Wow!” 
It’s the first time I’d seen it, and what a thrill.

“I want dat book,” he said again.

“Tell you what, honey, I’ll order you a book for yourself,” I said.

“I want dat one,” he said.

And that’s how the evening went; about every five minutes he let me know that was his book.

“It’s my book,” I said.

But was it? Whose book was it? Mine? His? Seems only fitting he should have the first book in the family, after all, it is a book about him.

I held the book up. “What does this say, Son?”

“My name.”

“Yes, that’s your name. It says Charley.”

He tried to take it out of my hand.

“It’s my book,” I said. I wrote it. I should have a copy of it.

He tugged at the book. “Mine.”

Finally, my mother, who was listening to this exchange on the other end of the phone heard him and said, “Buy him a book. I’ll pay for it.” Well duh. Why didn't I think of that?

So I placed the order on Amazon and said, “It’ll be here in about five days days.”

Now. You must understand that in the Down syndrome mind five days never comes. We can reason that it takes time for the mail to get here, but Charley? Not so much.

“I dat one,” he pointed to the book. 

Oh what the heck. I signed a message inside the front cover and handed it to him. He hugged it to his chest. And with that, he had a book and I didn't.

I thought that was the end of that. That’s what I get for thinking.

A short while later, I was lying on the bed, playing with my iPad, when who should appear at the door.

“Wead me my Charley story,” he said.


“Wead it Mom.”

He pulled his iphone out of this pocket, placed it on the bed, turned on the recorder, opened the book and pointed to a page.

“See? Wead dis.”

I looked into those eyes of his and melted. Right there, all over the page. What I saw was much more than excitement. It was more of a knowing contentment that he mattered. He's always mattered, don't get me wrong, but this was different. This was validation.

He sat and listened as I read one of the stories about him. 
He laughed, and nodded his head, in total agreement. Many people can't laugh at themselves, but it's one of Charley's greatest gifts.

Who would have known he'd be this engaged? Who could have guessed he would understand on such a level? We’d talked about it. But, I had no idea.

When I was finished reading, he thanked me, then took his iPhone to the couch, plugged it in, and fell asleep listening to his “Charley stories.”

He’s so smart. He knows he can’t actually read the words on the page (some individuals with Down syndrome can read on that level, but Charley can't at this point), He can, however, listen.

 And just like that? Life with Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption morphed into an audio book. How about that? Even the publisher doesn't know. Some authors wait years for that privilege. But in my case? There’s a Charley in the house.

Life is good. He’s got his book.

And I'll have mine. It’ll be here in about five days.


Note: Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption is available at: and


  1. Ah yes. He *gets it.*
    Probably always has.
    And for the boy: Congratulations on getting the first book, Charley! You deserve it!

    1. He's a doe hard when he wants something! Glad he got the first book too. Thanks Mardra!

  2. This post was so wonderful, Sherry! I would have expected nothing less than that level of enthusiasm. We all want validation, extra chromosome or no, and I think it's really beautiful that you've given that to him. This book is an amazing thing and I cannot wait to read it!

  3. Thank you Katie! I appreciate your comments. Like I said, I never expected him to connect. Sometimes I underestimate that extra chromosome of his...shame on me! Hope you are doing well.

  4. Hi Sherry - I'm reading your book right now - well, not NOW because I'm writing to you... but - I just have to tell you that I think it's wonderful in all the right ways. I have a daughter with Down syndrome - she's 23 (must be VERY close to Charlie's age). How I wish they could meet! I have written a memoir/book based mostly around our adventures in the past couple of years and I recognize Charlie's lessons to you, just as my Sierra's lessons to me... Especially THIS post! Congratulations on your book and Yay for Charlie in taking your first copy - Sierra would have done the same thing (except she doesn't have an iphone - we had to get the model with the pull-out keyboard for her very creative texting...) Big smile! Janet