To my son with Down syndrome, on your first day of preschool.

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I have no idea how time has flown by so fast, but this morning you woke up as a preschooler. Form newborn to school in the blink of an eye! And you re so, so ready for this. You really are. Your mother on the other hand, not so much.

You see, you’ve been right by my side since the day you were born and we are never apart. We are a team, and a bloody good one at that. You’re the team member who teaches so much, oozes determination and spreads a whole load of happiness. I’m hopefully the team member who is going to enable you to become the person you ere born to be and help you with any hurdles you face along the way. You have my promise I will always be by your side fighting for you, and encouraging you to fight for yourself. But the truth is, at this moment in time I’m just not quite ready to let my baby grow up! The choice is not mine though, because you are developing into an amazing little human right before my eyes and are ready to take the next step. Seems like you’re not the only one that needs to learn to share hey? Because the whole world deserves to at least witness a little piece of you.

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This is not going to be the best thing I’ve ever written, far from it in fact. It’s not easy to concentrate when I’m watching the clock, and waiting for school to end so I can come and get you. I can’t focus as I’m wondering what you are doing right now. Are you ok? Are you happy? Do you feel safe? Are you looking for me? ( probably not if we are honest ). So this may not be a perfectly written post, and it may ramble on and be thrown together, but it’s honest and there are some important things I want to remind you of as you start your journey into school life.

  1. You have as much right to be in school as anybody else. You have as much right to an education as any other child. You are different, but you are not less. Ever.
  2. You are strong, you are brave and you are brilliant. Always.
  3. We are so proud of you. Forever.
  4. Never allow yourself to believe you can’t do something. You can.
  5. Never allow another person to make you believe you can’t do something. You can and they are wrong.
  6. People can be mean and say hurtful things. Sometimes things get said without thinking and sometimes people are just not very nice. Never believe the things they say, learn to walk away, rise above it and remove yourself from the hate.
  7. Look for the good in people and always be kind. If you see somebody looking sad or lonely, be the person who makes them smile. Be a friend.
  8. Work hard and never be ashamed of your struggles. We all have them. You can choose to tackle them head on and overcome, or you can choose to walk away.
  9. Do your best. You don’t need to be the smartest child in the class, it’s not important. Just be the best that YOU can be. If you are trying your hardest then that is always enough. Always.
  10. Have fun. Always, always, always have fun.
  11. You are loved. We see your potential and know the you are destined for great things. I need you to believe that every single day.
  12. Please keep your clothes on!!! Bare butts are not for school!!!

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Finally, always remember that Down syndrome does not define who you are. It is a part of you, but it is not all of you. You are smart, funny, strong, curious, determined and loving. You are so much more than an extra chromosome and even if there are people who don’t see that, always know that its true. There are people that will see Down syndrome first, that’s unfortunately something you will need to face. But they won’t have the knowledge or the understanding to know that you are so much more.

But know this River, every day you are showing people and teaching people the reality of what Down syndrome really means. You are proof that you, and others like you are capable of achieving great things and living a valuable life. Never forget that you are River, you have Down syndrome, you are NOT Down syndrome, you are River.

To my son on your first day of preschool, I am so excited for you and what your future holds. I’m scared and I’m nervous, but so very proud. And i’m excited for myself too that I’m lucky enough to witness it. I know I always say you are going to play a part in changing the world, but I really do believe it. This is just the beginning for you and I couldn’t be prouder.

Good luck little man!

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