At my mother’s the other evening, Ethan informed me that he needed to go home for a while, but not to worry he would walk there. He started readying himself and heading out the door. It’s a mile home, through winding side streets, no one to walk with, and he’s not going to be talked out of this. For all teenagers, I suppose strikes for independance can be trying for parents – certainly no different when your teenager has Down syndrome.
“Ok”, I said casually, “Please cross carefully and go right home.” My mother shot me a look that asked, ‘are you nuts’ and Gavin said, “Don’t do it, mom, it’s a bad idea.” I watched him walk out the door with such determination, it would have been hard to deny him this opportunity.
I watched his back until he was out of view. I thought about holding my 4 lb. baby Ethan wondering what in the world he would be capable of. When would he walk? Would he ever talk? Yeah – walk right down the street, telling me he’s headed home!
Then I grabbed my camera and jumped in the car. I never let him see me.
He looked both ways at each intersection I witnessed (I did not see them all). He had to wait through 3 green light cycles at the busiest interesection in town for a “walk” sign. I watched as he pushed the button repeatedly and threw his hands up in frustration. I saw him wave to a police officer. At one point, I watched him stop, look around and just taken in his surroundings before continuing on. I could not have been happier for him, to be ‘out there’, on his own, on this brief journey.
Coming on the heels of spending his first night away from home, a request for a cell phone, school dances, and Teen Night Drop-Off, I would say we are entering dead smack into the middle of Ethan’s version of Teenagerhood. Go, E, go – literally.