Having a Child with Down Syndrome, Part XXXV: No User Manual Supplied

Copyright © 2012 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.

Day 23 of 31 for 21.

I’ve played trumpet since I was in fourth grade.  Since I was in kindergarten, I always wanted to play trumpet.  There was just one problem – I had horrible stage fright.  Whenever I played any solo parts, my hands shook badly.  I was told I had great vibrato.  If only it was intentional. When I got to college, I had a particularly bad pair of semesters and I was 1 credit shy of being kicked out – hard to imagine, isn’t it?  It’s true. I heard about a big band on campus that was student run.  If you joined it, you could earn a single credit, which was all I needed to keep myself in good standing.  I’d heard that they needed a trumpet, so I talked to the director who told me the second part was open.  He asked if I knew how to  improvise.  I lied.  I said yes.  In big band parts, they don’t write the solos out (usually).  Instead, they just write the chord changes into your part – here ya go.  So I did two things.  First, I learned how to improvise by just faking it.  Second, I conquered my stage fright.  After you play 30-40 solos in a three set gig, the stage fright goes away.

Bus Soon

The same thing holds true with parenting.  I read what I can.  I watch other parents. I try to observe and think about what I’m doing.  When it comes down to it, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.  With any kid, there’s no user manual – maybe you can find a Chilton’s for your model, but when you have a child with disabilities, there won’t be a Chilton’s because you never know what will work or won’t work.  You try stuff, see what works and try it again.  if it doesn’t work try to avoid it in the future.  It doesn’t always work. I’m making tons of mistakes and I’m trying to keep a running tally of how much that’s going to cost in therapy.

It touches me when my dad leaves me comments about being a good dad myself (thanks, dad!) since I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

So what then?  Improvise with confidence and be ready to say “I’m sorry.”

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