How My 9 Month Old (And My iMac) Taught Me That All Kids With Down Syndrome Aren’t “Angels”

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I know what you’re thinking….

“Wow, you guys sure are mean parents!”

But before you report us to child protective services I promise you we don’t make a habit out of provoking our child to cry….even if he does look super cute in the process! :)

Wonder….Curiosity….and an iMac!

baby born down syndrome playing typing dad father iMac computer

Don’t let the big blue eyes fool you……

Our little boy is growing in leaps and bounds. It is so much fun having a front row seat to his daily adventures! (and seeing those physical therapy goals pay off!)  It’s amazing watching his sense of wonder and curiosity develop.  Noah is fascinated by anything  and everything he can get his tiny little hands on (especially hair….ouch!)

I love holding Noah on my lap while I work on various tasks (aka – making a mess on our dining room table) while he watches in amazement as if everything his dad is doing is the most interesting thing on the planet! (Even though to him, in that moment, it is.)  He typically just places his tiny little hands on my fingers as I type while he just relaxes and enjoys the sensory stimulation of my hands bouncing up and down as I type on the keyboard.  (It’s seriously one of the cutest things ever.)

But tonight something happened…….

Hey, Where Did My “Little Angel” Go….!?

children babies kids down syndrome not angels

Tonight he did more than just relax.  Tonight our little Noah crossed the line from ‘cute and innocent Noah’ to  ‘I’ve got you wrapped around my tiny little fingers Noah!’

It’s true, at only 9 months old our cute, innocent, sweet, little angel has mastered the art of manipulating his daddy!  (I’m not sure where manipulation is on the developmental milestone chart…but I’m pretty sure he hit this one right on time!)

But wait…How did this happen!  Aren’t all children born with Down syndrome perfect little angels?  That’s what everyone always tells me!  Where did he learn to do this!  I never saw Bert teach Ernie how to manipulate on an episode of Sesame Street.  I checked his bookshelf and didn’t see a copy of “The Berenstain Bears Manipulate Their Neighbors!”  And I’ve never heard Yo Gabba Gabba sing “It’s Time To Manipulate Your Daddy!”

Hmmmm…maybe it was just something he was born knowing how to do.

Maybe the next time someone says to me

“Awww…all children born with Down syndrome are just little angels, aren’t they?”

I’ll direct them to this. :)

(Quick Note To Parents Not Raising Children Born With Down Syndrome:  I was already well aware that Noah wasn’t an angel before tonight. Unfortunately, being born with 3 copies of your 21st chromosome doesn’t make a person sin-less.  Being born with Down syndrome means you’re fully human…not fully perfect.  If you’re one of those people who goes around thinking (or saying!) that all children born with down syndrome are little angels, I’m giving you permission on behalf of all parents of children with special needs everywhere to say something a little more creative (and true.)  For example feel free to ask any parent this question, “So what’s the last dumb/stupid/ignorant/funny thing someone has said about your child.”   I’m sure you’ll get much more interesting good responses….trust me! :)

How old was your little one when you first realized he wasn’t a little angel after all? Do you remember what happened? Take a second to share…this ought to be good!

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.

Comments

  1. Hey, careful on rewarding the cry! he’ll do it for everything! I think it’s a GREAT opportunity to start teaching him to sign the word “MORE” so he learns to sign instead of cry. :) xoxo I wish I started teaching Amber sooner and he will amaze you at what he will learn!

  2. Hi hi! It’s Chie and Reina from Hawaii…Reina loves to kick the keyboard while I’m using the mouse!! Sometimes she’ll kick the keys and weird stuff happen to my computer! Hehe. Noah is soooo cute~!!

    • @Chie, that sounds just like Noah! They both like the way things (anything!) feels. They enjoy the different textures, etc…..It’s fun stuff.

      Thanks for the kind words about Noah…we agree. He’s a keeper! :)

  3. Warren's mom says:

    I’m not sure the first time Warren demoed his manipulation for us, but he was less than a year. At 6 months old or so, he had to be put on steroids for his seizures which made him so hungry that we had to start solids to compensate. He was about a year and a half old before I could get him to hold the spoon without tossing it. We had to get a bowl with a suction cup, and a spoon attached by a cord just to keep everything on the table. :) Even once he was feeding himself one of us had to sit facing him so that he could tell he had our full attention.

    • @Warren’s Mom

      Thanks for the comments. So sorry to hear about the seizures, how is he doing now? (And how old is he now by the way?)

      You should see Noah eat…it goes everywhere! Talk about a mess. I can’t wait to post some videos of that! I like that bowl with a suction cup, and spoon with a cord idea! I’m going to file that away in my “good idea” file! :)

      Thanks for sharing.

  4. Warren's mom says:

    @Noah’s dad

    Warren is doing great now. He’s 6 1/2 years old and is seizure free. At 6 months old he was diagnosed with infantile spasms and we did an 8 week course of an injectable steroid called ACTH gel and 3 or 4 days into the injections the seizures stopped. In theory they should never recur.

    The bowl and spoon suction cup set was the greatest thing ever for us! We’ve moved past it now, but it was awesome. It wasn’t the set by munchkin, but I can’t remember who made it. Our OT connected us with it.

  5. H! Liam, now 10, had a nickname until he was about 3, which clearly indicated his ability to manipulate us! We called him “King Liam.” Liam, being our first child, used his birth order to clearly “work” mommy and daddy. Not only did we not know much about babies, he has Down syndrome on top of that and he knew we had a huge learning curve! He would act just utterly helpless when doing things so we would step in and do it for him. But, if mommy and daddy weren’t around he “magically” was able to do whatever he needed! Hmmm. Smart, I would say! :) Thanks for your blog. I love reading it. What you said about the comments people make is just so on target. It still drives me nuts. I say to people all the time, “You have obviously not seen Liam in trouble. He is more Dennehy (our last name) than Down syndrome.

  6. Great post! I love your blog, I am the mom of two children with Ds, Emir who is 7 and Ayelen who is 4. Hope we can chat one of these days! have a happy new year!

    • Wow….so cool! Thanks for the kind words!

      How did you find out about our blog? I’d like to chat with you to! I bet you have some interesting stories. Did you adopt either of your children or are both “yours?”

      By the way I like your Gravatar!

      • They are my biological children, but they don´t look like haha, they ask me all the time if they are adopted, first because they are blond and blue eyes and I have a very latin look, and second because it is not usual to see siblings with Ds. I found your blog at twitter, hope we can chat some day! Enjoy ur weekend!

  7. Amen re: their sinful state. They are fully human just as we are and in need of the salvation/heart change that comes from the quickening of the Holy Spirit. My mom and Dad used to refer to my deceased sister, who had Downs as “our little angel.” I was always jealous of that as a child. Now, I know some misspeak and refer to deceased people (because they were good/sweet/kind/etc) as angels (some assuming they turn into them once in heaven… including wings, etc.) Yet, the Bible tells us that we will judge angels (I Corinthians 6:3) and that angels long to look into the mystery of the gospel (I Peter 1:12) that has been revealed to mankind. Not that we transform into them. Totally different beings that God created. Specifically pertaining to children with Down Syndrome, the Lord will have mercy on whom He has mercy (Romans 9). Therefore, if He so chooses to bestow upon this precious son of mine, the knowledge of His great mercy and grace and save him, whom He created and fashioned together in my womb, then that is of His sovereign will, and I believe that He will provide Blake with all that He needs for life and godliness, according to His purpose in Christ Jesus. Obviously, it’s no surprise to God that Blake has cognitive limitations when it comes to understanding the gospel. So, of course, He will make a way for Him to understand, if He wills. When Blake stomps his feet and slaps his hand to the side and says “NO,” it’s really not very angelic. Just like any other kid. LOL. Thanks so much for your post! :) Bless your family.

    • Thanks for sharing your story!

      It sounds like you know just where I was coming from. :)

      I’m thankful that we can trust in a God who is good in whatever He wills to do! What a friend we have in Him….

      I hope you guys had a very Merry Christmas.

      • Joy Cavanagh says:

        Reminds me of when our daughter was about a year old she had beenr quite naughty before church at then I got to church and Natalie was acting well like a ‘little angel’ (lol) and they said to me ‘I love Downs, they don’t know sin’
        Grrrrr!!!!

  8. Your son is seriously too cute! He made me giggle! Reuben is still my little angel! But I’m sure he will let the other side show soon xx

  9. Karl Bielefeldt says:

    Great article. Reminded me of how my daughter (who has cerebral palsy) will get careless and accidentally run into someone with her powered wheelchair and the person she ran into will apologize to her! Happens all the time.

  10. Yes! I hate when people trivialize those with illnesses or disabilities by talking about how they are so strong and loving. It seems so patronizing, especially with adults. I think that people are afraid of being rude or politically incorrect but really the best thing is to treat the person like you would anyone else (with maybe a bit more patience and explicit instruction).

  11. Darsy Sparrow says:

    I am a nurse at a children’s hospital. A few weeks ago I had a teenager with DS. I hate it when people say that people with DS are happy and all that. This kid was fed up with the hospital and especially us nurses who kept bothering him. He would turn his head and refuse to look at me, although he did still do simple things I asked such as lift his arm or stay in bed. I was glad to see him assert himself and was proud of him for that. When he would get really mad, he would wave and say, “bye bye! Ready set GO!” and I would say, Okay, I’m going, and chuckle to myself after I was out of his sight.

  12. My son Casey is now 16 1/2 but I remember hearing so many times when he was little…Oh children with Down Syndrome are so sweet, they are such angels. My standard comment after Casey was about 6 months old was..you haven’t spent much time around kids with Down Syndrome have you? Once they stop swallowing their tongue and looking at me like I have just grown an extra head, I explain that while I agree my child is absolutely adorable and angelic looking, they are seeing him at his best. As with most kids, the word no can and usually will provoke some very unangelic behavior. Then I explain that what I am really trying to say is…Casey is just like every child born, he may look a little different and will learn things a little slower, but he still has the exact same traits…sweetness combined with stubbornness, laughter as well as crying temper fits. And as with almost all parents everywhere…I wouldn’t trade him for the world!

  13. Oh that was the funniest thing I have ever seen! He is a very smart little guy!!! :)

  14. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I have heard so many iterations of “Kids with DS: they’re always so happy!” And yes, I will say our kiddo is one pretty laid-back kid, but he is certainly not always happy, and he’s certainly not perfect! First hint that he was a manipulator was when he stopped holding his own bottle. It happened over time, and we didn’t realize we’d started supporting it 100%. Our developmental therapist caught on, though, and we had to train ourselves out of it. Boy, he was NOT happy we’d figured that out! Even now, he spent at weekend at Nana’s house, and came home refusing to hold his own bottle. Stinker.

  15. Donna Norton Miller says:

    as an imperfect parent to 3 imperfect kids, and a para in a significantly separate room, I would say the biggest mistake any parent would make is to see their child through rose colored glasses. Enjoy the good, and laugh at the rediculous, and you will be able to handle to bad stuff.

  16. Kimbev69 says:

    My livy manipulated me from birth with those big brown eyes lol

  17. Sarah marsh says:

    Had to watch it a few times – kept making me giggle!! So funny. The “little angels” comment reminds me that I have lost count of the number of times someone (with good intentions) has said “Oh, but they can do so much for them these days” regarding our cleft lip and palate daughter.

  18. Lety Campos says:

    Sooo true!!! Dany (12) laughs at his litthe brother telling him “you´re a baby” because he dosesn´t like scary movies!!! And about his grades too!! he likes to tell EVERYBODY  he always gets 10 and his brother 8 !! I´m sure, they are not angels, they doesn´t belong to heaven, they belong to us and we love them !!!!!!!

  19. Noah is so cute! I love watching him grow, thanks for sharing. Manipulating has began with us parents :) we do it everyday to our children…. How can we engage them today?what is going to make hem interested,? How can we get our children to do what we want them to do lol, so they have learned it from the beginning. Be proud has they figure out the art of negotiation. We just have to be on top of teaching right and wrong! And yes my child is no Angel either, but he does bring a lot of light in my life <3

  20. ha! manipulation!  jackson (9 years) has perfected it so much so i have caught on to his routine.  he’ll put on this pathetic little crying routine and i’ve learned that if i just sit and be patient or walk away within 2 minutes he stops and says “all better now!”  and then happily proceeds to do what he was protesting to do in the first place. 
    frankly he’s taught me a thing or two about manipulation and i’ve used his skills right back on him!  either to propose the positive outcomes to encourage my agenda, or to distract him in order to get the task done without him realizing he’s doing it. 
    great post!  they are just kids afterall, capable of the good and the bad . . .

  21. Rworley76 says:

    Here I was thinking my son Isaac (3 1/2) was the only one not an angel! Haha. But yes they are precious and i wouldn’t change him for anything but boy is he a handful and very strong willed. I say he is an angel at his very best but at his worst he his the devil! But what children aren’t?

  22. So true! The “those downs kids are always so happy and affectionate” comments come only behind the “maybe she’ll grow out of it” in our list of ridiculous stuff people say.

    She can be both, but she’s her mothers daughter (control freak and terribly stubborn). We like her better this way. She’s a real person with a unique personality, not a caricature. But at least it’s a “nice” stereotype.

  23. I can’t remember a defining moment when I knew Aiden was no angel…but since he has been walking, I am reminded several times a day…I have lost enough toilet paper to build a  bridge to China…he can be just plain BAD sometimes…but when he smiles at me, I can’t stay mad…When I hear the “Down Syndrome Angel” myth I just smile and nod and think to myself that they have NO IDEA…

  24. Becky, Dave and Timothy says:

    That typing video is what we call the AC-DC child.  Alternating current.  On again, off again.  That is a “perfect” example that our children are not perfect.  The do have the other side with temper problems.

  25. Kwood222 says:

    I remember it very well!  Swearing at school – he was in kindergarten?  Then, as a teenager we were having a disagreement about something, and he completely slammed his bedroom door on me.  After getting over the shock of my son doing that period ( Down syndrome or not), I thought, wow…. that is soooo normal.  I smiled to myself and walked away.   I don’t remember if I disciplined or not, as Eric is the type of kid that you just have to look at him sternly and he’s been disciplined.   But a fairly typical teenage moment that was far from angelic!

  26. I was working with a little DS princess who was about 2 at the time. Our task for the day was to get her to say NO when she didn’t like what your were doing or just didn’t want to do it. She was happily drawing on a blackboard I kept taking the chalk away, she would just look at me with those please don’t do that eyes and wait till I gave it back, the other lady helping on that day kept saying No when I took it prompting our little princess to say the same, after about half an hour of this she finally grabed the chalk back telling me No in no uncertain terms and as she turned back to the blackboard she added Bitch.(Her dads favourite word). From then on every time she saw me, that is what she called me.

  27. Christinaharmon says:

    Haha!! So true! My little one at 4 months old would “fake cry” and the minute I picked him up, instant bliss…so I experimented…I’d hold him over the pack and play and as I’d lower him, he’d fake cry and if I raised him towards me…big smile!!! :) now ain’t that a sweet little angel for ya?! ;)

  28. Stephanie Taylor says:

    It looks like your giving him a good work out with those stomach muscles

  29. Renae Williams says:

    Damitri was abt 7 or 8 months old when i realized it!! lol!!

  30. Dalmo Hernandes says:

    I’ll tell you, down syndrome or not (my 2 yr old son doesn’t have it), babies are not angels, they’re EVIL! 

    Seriously now, sorry for commenting on an older post, but I had to say. Noah is really cool, his facial expressions are the best and he seems to have a really strong personality!

  31. I refuse to admit this! Otto is just 6 months old, so he’s still totally an angel in my eyes. Nevermind the fact that he wakes at 5 in his bassinet and just starts talking. Talking, then TALKING. Not yelling, he’s too sweet for that. Just talking so even the neighbors can hear him. Ugh. But my little boy is still my angel!!! (My 4 year old daughter that doesn’t have down syndrome on the other hand has completely outgrown angel.)

  32. My four year old poured a bucket of water out of the tub onto the floor tonight…while my 2 year old emptied all the clothes from his drawers… neither have DS but neither are angels! They are very fun and funny, but huge mess makers and destroyers at time…a boy thing???

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