As I mentioned in last Friday’s snippets, I was in Tucson for a few days; I flew home Sunday night with a layover in Atlanta. The weather was nasty (not unlike what I described in the opening scene of my new eBook…) with lengthy delays and I was hoping for a standby seat on a flight scheduled to leave earlier than mine. I observed two things while I waited.
#1 – Lentil the Dog
The airport CNN loop ran a story on Lentil the Dog. Lentil was one of a litter of four puppies with facial defects; he was born with a cleft palate and cleft lip and was the only pup that survived. He had to be tube fed and needed constant care and eventually he had surgery to correct the cleft palate, but not the lip. To make a long story short, Lentil became an “ambassadog” for children with craniofacial abnormalities.
So I was watching the story, and I was thinking about great it was that the kids with similar conditions have had this little dog to help them cope. Really cool. But after a few minutes, the story started to bug me. I couldn’t put my finger on why at first, and I’m still not sure I’ve fully processed it. It sounds like he’s a great therapy dog and that he’s raising awareness about craniofacial issues – great things.
But (and don’t bludgeon me for saying this, as we love our pooches…) he’s just a dog. What does it say about our society that we can’t accomplish these things without him?
Check out the full story on Lentil the dog by clicking the video below or go here for the video and transcript.
#2 – A Buddy Sighting
After a half hour of the airport CNN loop followed by another half hour staring at my name at position number one on the standby list, I decided to quit torturing myself and be a little more observant of what was around me. Right away, I spotted an adorable little Asian boy seated a short distance away. He was with his mother and sister and appeared to be about five or six years old, as did the sister. In fact, they were almost exactly the same size; I assumed they were twins. I watched him for a few minutes until his mom gave him a snack. As soon as he started eating, it dawned on me: he might have Down syndrome.
I took a closer look at his sister and realized that while she did have Asian features, they were milder than his. A few minutes later the dad and another, older sister appeared; he wasn’t Asian at all and her features were milder, like the younger girl’s. I turned back to the little boy and watched him for several more minutes. It was his eyes and flat nose that were different from the other girls. I continued to watch and knew without a doubt that he had Down syndrome.
As I watched the family interact – particularly the two younger children – I could see other differences, as well. He was more active than his sister, which isn’t all that unusual, as boys tend to be more “wiggly” than girls. But even the way he moved and the mannerisms that he used were different. Not different because he was a different person the way my mannerisms are different from Mr. Andi’s, but different in a more global, comprehensive way.
He was more – for lack of a better word – relaxed. He didn’t appear to have particularly low tone, either – it was something else that made him different. His sister wasn’t upset or agitated – I would have described her as relaxed, too – but her manner reflected an inner vigilance that his didn’t. Her body was primed to react to stimuli, whereas his told me that he was going with the flow.
Eventually, they pre-boarded the plane ahead of me, and I was seated near the front so I didn’t see them again. I thought about the contrast a lot on the drive home, though, and it reminded me of a piece I read awhile back: If People With Down Syndrome Ruled the World.