This article by Christina Nehring on raising a child with Down syndrome is marvelous. (Loving a Child on the Fringe) I want to limit my comments to very specific elements both out of respect to how well written the piece is as well as my hope that you will also read her full article about her daughter Eurydice. This is my first of two posts on this.
In addressing the conclusions of author Andrew Solomon in his book Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity about the challenges of raising children including those with special needs as well as Peter Singer’s utilitarian evaluations of life she writes the following:
Am I “cheerily generalizing” as Solomon says of other Down syndrome parents, “from a few accomplishments” of my child? Perhaps I am. But one thing I’ve learned these last four years that possibly Solomon has not: All of our accomplishments are few. All of our accomplishments are minor: my scribblings, his book, the best lines of the best living poets. We embroider away at our tiny tatters of insight as though the world hung on them, when it is chiefly we ourselves who hang on them. Often a dog or cat with none of our advanced skills can offer more comfort to our neighbor than we can. (Think: Would you rather live with Shakespeare or a cute puppy?) Each of us has the ability to give only a little bit of joy to those around us. I would wager Eurydice gives as much as any person alive.