What My Cousin and Downs Syndrome Taught Me About Parenting

We celebrated my cousin Tracy’s 40th birthday this weekend. It was the first time we saw her family since lockdown began.

When my family first came to Canada, one of the first friends I made were my cousins Tracy and J.

My mom and her siblings are very close and we saw my uncle’s family regularly. I had frequent sleepovers with my cousins and I was included on their summer trips.

Tracy has Downs syndrome and she was the first person I met that had special needs. Growing up with her normalized the idea of special needs.

It showed me the positive possibilities and outcome of dedicated parenting and a supportive environment.

Today, thanks to her parents’ advocacy, Tracy works three part-time jobs at a fast food restaurant, a library and Toys R Us. She has a busy social calendar with her mom’s friends.

Attending the Power Rangers Morphicon in Los Angeles in Summer 2016.

Tracy was our flower girl when the hubby and I got married in 2009.

She is also my friend to talk about Power Rangers and Sailor Moon with, which we both grew up loving and still love.

In Summer 2016, shortly after T arrived, Tracy and I flew for a weekend trip to Los Angeles to attend a Power Rangers convention. It was fun! I can’t wait for T to get into the show.

Tracy’s mom was one of my two references for our adoption application. When we did our homestudy, I spoke about how growing up with Tracy has prepared me for potential challenges and to face them with a positive approach.

We didn’t have a 40 candle so the 3 had to do.

Growing up with Tracy has taught me about compassion, never underestimating people, advocacy and creating a space for everyone.

I look at how my uncle and aunt raised Tracy when I think about parenting T.

They and J are among the handful of people who truly understand the challenges of raising a child with great potential and challenging needs and are very supportive and inclusive of T.

They’ve invited T to cottage trips and on day trips like to a lovely Lavender farm (pictured at top).

Good thing the pontoon wasn’t really on!

Tracy and her brother have been so great and supportive of T. Although she finds him very loud and hyper. It’s true, he is!

T was so excited about seeing Uncle J all week. He has a dog and all T talked about at home and school all week was seeing Uncle J and Sesame.

It was a nice weekend. My aunt rented a pontoon at Port Perry and we went fishing and swimming – wearing masks and being mindful of distancing.

Then we had them over our home for dinner and cake!

Port Perry

15 thoughts on “What My Cousin and Downs Syndrome Taught Me About Parenting

      1. Oh, thank you, Ab! Sometimes I see people saying deeply negative things about Down syndrome, and I just think they must not know anyone with the condition. My sister is (usually!) a bright spot in my life.


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