I always feel weird.
Like I want to explain to everyone why I'm there.
Joe feels the same way too.
Macy's baby department is astonishing. The fashions are incredible. With Easter coming they had little girl frocks that were clocking in at 'drop jaw' prices. But we were here shopping for a baby boy. Matt and Alicia have a shower coming up and we wanted to get some cool stuff and get it into the mail so that it would be there in time for the shower. Our travels keep us away but I couldn't wish them more happiness. They are a lovely couple and I got to know Alicia a couple of summers ago when she came along to my summer school classes outside of Ottawa.
Anyways, as we were shopping, we'd pick up stuff and get giddy at the cuteness of it all. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a woman talking with the clerk and I was sure I heard the word's "Down Syndrome" so I creaked my chair as close as I could to overhear. The woman wanted to buy something for her friend who just had a baby with Down Syndrome. She actually asked, "What do you get a baby like that?" The clerk actually said, "I really don't know."
Joe, hearing it too, gave me the 'go ahead' look. He says it's kind of like signalling an attack dog, but he also thinks he's funny.
I said, "I do."
They both spun at me, not with hositility but with surprise, before anyone could say anything, I continued, "I know lots of people with Down Syndrome and I know lots of parents of kids with Down Syndrome. It's kind of what I do for a living."
The woman looked relieved and said, "I just don't know what to buy."
"Boy or girl?" I asked, matter of factly.
"Girl," she said giving herself over to my easy authority.
We picked out some beautiful girly cloths, all pinks and laces, bows and blouses. In seconds she got into the spirit of it and was having fun. "So, it's like shopping for any other baby."
"Yes and no," I said.
She looked at me curiously, so I continued, "The most important gift you can give your friend is the gift of congratulations. A baby has been borne. This is not a tragedy. People with Down Syndrome grow up and date, marry, get jobs, live independently. They have a joyous trip ahead of them. Celebrate with them."
She thanked me as she went to buy her stuff.
"Remember to say ...."
"Congratulations," she said.