It’s all a matter of choice

It was just before Thanksgiving and I was picking up holiday supplies at the local home improvement store. My son was with me doing this quick errand with me after school. We were approaching the checkout line and he noticed a dog. He has developed quite an aversion and apprehension of dogs. So there we were items in hand and he wanted to leave the store. I quickly and calmly explained to him that there was no way we could leave the store. I needed to buy the items and only then could we leave.

It was interesting, because the woman who had her service dog immediately wanted to go move and make accommodations. A sweet soul, I knew that she was well-intentioned. I shook my head however acknowledging I didn’t want her to move, this was a teachable moment. Another woman was watching as well and identifying my son’s fear. Again, I shook my head at her as well acknowledging I didn’t want her to identify with my son’s fear. At that very moment I looked at my son who stood frozen and said,  “This is where you choose power or fear. Which are you going to choose?” The second woman looked shocked by how I was speaking to my son thinking because he was with Down syndrome that he wouldn’t understand or wouldn’t get it . Oh contraire! He responded, “Power!” That’s when I took the opportunity, smiled, nodded and said, “ Okay, take a deep breath look at the dog and tell him, I am more powerful than you. You don’t have to say it aloud you can say it in your head…Now take another breath and walk!”

He did it! It was a most transformative interaction not just for my son or myself, but also for the two women who were standing and witnessing this experience.

After he passed the dog I knelt down and looked at him as I pointed to his heart and said “ I am so proud of you! And you should be so proud of you! You shine! You chose power! That should warm your heart.” When I saw the two women’s faces they were smiling, beaming in approval.

It is in these simple moments, I recognize that we as adults need to do the same: recognize our fear, own our own power and strength, and move ahead. We also need to remember not to allow other people’s perceptions of us to identify who and what we can do. When we do that as parents, we effectively show our children how to do the same.

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