Brothers and sisters of a sibling with Down syndrome have the most real and up close look at what it means for another to have Down syndrome.
They don't have any preconcieved notions, ideas or expectations (or lack of expectations as well!).
They just simply accept wholeheartedly their brother or sister.
That doesn't mean they LIKE every. single. thing. that Braden does. Allie sure gets hacked when Braden empties her bookshelf of books and leaves them in a heap after he has quickly paged through them. That usually results in a roll of the eyes as she rearranges her shelf back to how she likes it. Grant gets irritated in the back seat when Brady pokes his knee in that notorious game of "he's touching me" that I remember playing with my brothers! That usually results in us making sure there is an open seat between the twins on long car rides. Cameron sure does not appreciate when Braden kidnaps one of his stuffed animals and takes him for a swim in the fish tank. That usually results in my laundry being bumpy and lumpy as I freshen up said kidnapped stuffed friend. And Greyson doesn't like when Braden snitches one of his puffs off his highchair. That usually results in a highpitched protest!
But...and this has got to be the biggest "but" ever...
Greyson loves when Braden shares his posse of animals with him. Braden can entertain Greyson forever with his skillfull tossing of stuffed creatures. He loves when Braden sings, complete with hand motions, the Itsy Bitsy Spider to him. He loves that Braden will gather the wayward balls that go in the ball popper for him - over and over and over - long after the rest of us have tired of that stinkin ball popper!
Grant loves to play "bert tag" with Brady. Braden is dead-on-accurate when throwing his stuffed Bert doll and so those two have made a game of it. With Grant trying his absolute hardest, he is never quick enough to dodge that flying Bert doll. Just when you think Grant has zigged out of the way Bert comes from nowhere and tags him squarely in the chest. They will play that game for hours. Both dying of hysterics. Tickling and tackling and wrestling also often ensue between these two.
Cameron loves to give Braden piggy back rides all over this house. How someone hasn't gotten hurt yet is beyond me! They also jump forever on the trampoline together, take turns jumping off the pool ladder and play for hours in the sandbox together. These two are also quite the pair if God forbid there is an empty cardboard appliance box in the house! What's with boys and their clubhouses?!
Allie loves her some Brady love. Snuggling between those two is a daily occurance. He just comes right up to her, says "snuggle", and she plops him in her lap for some serious big sister/little brother snuggle time. In fact at night Brady will sometimes climb out of his bed, venture down the hall, and climb right in with sissy. She wraps him up in the blankets and snuggles him close til morning. These two are also our "dancy duo". They are our only kids with any sense of rhythm. Seriously. Most nights you can see these two dancing in the kitchen to whatever "cool" teenage music Allie has playing. She's always telling him they are gonna be the "first ones in and last ones out the club" when she gets older and can take him dancing.
But the most telling of the way the kids feel, besides the hugs, besides the kisses, besides the snuggles, besides the games, besides all the dancing, is that both Allie and Cameron have at different times asked me - "When I grow up, can I have a baby with Down syndrome?".
And I always tell them, "Only if your lucky!"