How to Inform Siblings
Explaining Down syndrome to a two and four-year-old looks very similar to not explaining it. If a conversation doesn't involve battles or boogers, my sons tune out quickly. In two weeks of experience, I have found that their sister's genetic codes merit zero interest points. It's comical, but in a sense, I hope it stays this way. What I aspire to teach Easton and Hudson about their sisters, is what they inadvertently already understand; love doesn't blind us from seeing someone's disability, it allows us to see past it.
At this point, I have briefly mentioned to the boys that Nettie and Lottie are part of a unique team. In my explanation, I have likened the Down syndrome community to the Avengers squad. Similar to Mantis or the Scarlet Witch, their sisters have a rare superpower, and while it makes them different, it also makes them marvelous. That's all for now. No explanation of chromosomal abnormalities or reviewing karyotypes at this point. We are keeping it brief, informal, age-appropriate, and in terms they understand.
As the boys grow and mature, my husband and I will go more in-depth. We will incorporate literature such as, ‘47 Strings; Tessa’s Special Code’, events such as the Buddy Walk, and celebrations like World Down syndrome day. For the most part, we will be learning alongside them. Together we will have ample opportunities to form observations and questions.
Exposure will open our eyes to diversity and our hearts to inclusion. I believe my sons will form a natural capacity to embrace those who have special needs with confidence and compassion. What an invaluable gift to them. My hope is that they will invest themselves, encouraging and advocating for their sisters, and be rewarded a beautiful loss of egotism.
Especially in my parenting, I must not misdirect others in my passion for advocacy. My goal is to promote acceptance, opportunity, inclusion, and empowerment, and I cannot do so wielding judgments or criticisms clothed in hypersensitivity. If any or all of my children choose to join this mission, my greatest lesson to them will be this: advocacy must be driven by and presented with grace.
We brought home two babies and introduced one very different future. An incredible future. Our sons will offer their sisters acceptance, support, and appreciation. They will gain emersion and oneness with a community typically separate from their own. I don't need to spend much effort informing my sons about their sibling's syndrome; I need only observe, as their sisters with superpowers, make them heroes too.