Thursday, January 04, 2007

mahalo, hawai'i

We eloped from the hysteria of the Christmas season and escaped to Kaua’i in Hawai’i for 12 days. Aaron was an amazingly flexible and cooperative traveler.

I always tell new parents of babies with Down syndrome about Aaron’s travels in the first three years of his life. He’s been to Mexico twice, Idaho, Montreal, and Vancouver and Vancouver Island countless times – and now we add Hawai’i to his list. He gets dragged along whenever we go just like the rest of our kids.

In Kaua’i, Aaron LOVED the sand. He had sand in his mouth, sand in his diaper, and sand in his ear. He shoveled the sand, dug his hands in the sand, and lay down in the sand to be buried in the sand by his two siblings.

He took great joy at yelling at the waves, ‘OH NO’ when they crept close to him, and turning on his heel and running up the shore as the waves chased behind.

We discovered that he is scared of big waves that knock him over (who isn’t?) and we found out on our many roadside lookout stops to gaze at canyons and waterfalls, that he is terrified of heights. (Here in the Prairies of Canada, we don’t have many differences in elevation). He’d bury his head in my shoulder whenever we stood at a look-out point. Duly noted.

Aaron sat patiently in restaurants as long as he had French fries and a mango smoothie in front of him. He slept like a dream, and the 12 hour travels to and from Hawai’i went smoothly with a steady stream of snacks, toys and airplane headsets.

Isaac and Ella, his brother and sister, taught him to sign and say ‘hang loose’. Coming from Aaron’s mouth, this sounds like ‘ang oose’. This caused us all to collapse in a fit of giggles. If there is anybody who knows how to hang loose in this family, it is Aaron, age 3.5.

What I loved about our holiday is that it was so normal. It wasn’t about Down syndrome. I could put Aaron’s programs and services and therapies out of my mind. For in paradise, just for ten days, his Down syndrome didn’t matter. What mattered was catching a wave with the boogie board, drinking mai tai’s, eating banana cream pie and playing football on Ke’e Beach just after sunrise.

Thank you, Hawai’i, for giving me that gift. My little surfer dude’s ‘aloha’ attitude fit perfectly in paradise. I’m now tanked up to start back with pre-school, developmental specialists and therapies on Monday. Hang loose, dear friends.