Magical moments are everywhere just like miracles, but they are often only visible to those who are ready to enjoy them and see the awesomeness that makes them special. This is the sweet story of a marriage proposal to my 6 year-old daughter with Down syndrome.
We were at Downtown Disney having a blast. My son wanted to watch the alligator and my daughter didn’t even want to get close to it. I was in the middle of one of those silly situations when, as a mother, we don’t know where to go or what to do. I didn’t want my boy to miss the opportunity to watch the alligator, but I didn’t want my girl to get scared. So I did as any other smart mommy would do, I stood in the middle of the street at just the right distance between them in order to be able to run to the rescue, if needed. She was sitting on the ground on the opposite side of the street, while her brother was enjoying a chat with an alligator.
There I was with my neck rotating to both sides constantly when I noticed that a little guy had approached my daughter. He offered her a toy that she rejected. But what really called my attention was his willingness to make her happy. He kept talking to her while holding her hand. I walked toward them to understand what was happening between the two of them. You know, it’s not usual that a typical child gets so into trying to make conversation with a child with Down syndrome. Kids may not understand it yet, but when they are young, they notice some typical differences and usually they give up easily if their conversation partner doesn’t respond as expected. But to my surprise, I heard the sweetest conversation ever between the two of them. By this time, his family was also listening to their exchange, and also seemed surprised by his behavior and all the attention he was giving to Ayelén.
Him: Please hold my hand. I like you. You are very special.
(The word special made me think he knew she had Down syndrome, then I realized he didn’t mean to say, “special needs” He really meant to say, “outstanding.”)
Him: What do you want to be happy? Do you want to marry me?
And he handed his toy to her as the most meaningful proof of love.
(WHAT!? Are you proposing to marry my daughter? Boy, you don’t know what you are doing!)
Her: Ask mommy.
I was surprised and excited. My heart was literally melting underneath my shirt and by the looks on his family’s faces, I knew they were feeling the same.
His mom asked him: Do you like her?
He said: “Yes, she’s beautiful,” But so much for getting married…
I felt my heart beating hard and my eyes were full of tears. Maybe this was the most romantic guy I have ever met in my life. Maybe he does this all the time with every girl he meets, but it truly made Ayelén feel special in such an amazing way. Her eyes were smiling and even though she did not accept his proposal, (Thank God she didn’t throw a tantrum for not being allowed to get married!) I can tell she felt like a young pretty girl, the only conquest for this boy. Don’t misunderstand me please, I know that my daughter is beautiful and wonderful, but really, I’m not prepared yet for this kind of serious proposal directed toward her! On the other hand, he was younger than she. He was merely 4, and even his mom swore that this was the first time he had done something like this; although I know we (moms) are sometimes little liars.
Driving back home, while she was sleeping in her car seat and my son was playing with the iPad, I looked at her through the rearview mirror to find myself tearing up again. I love her just the way she is. I’m proud of her for not accepting the proposal without asking me first, and all that I can say is that if at any time in the future she complains because boys don’t like her, I’m going to remind her of this precious moment when, using a toy as an engagement ring, a little guy proposed marriage to her on the side of the street at Downtown Disney.
I don’t know how her future will be, if she’s going to find love, or if I will be helping her to get dressed on the day of her wedding. The future of kids with special needs is very uncertain, but if God gives me life and health, the only thing that I know is that I’m always going to be there for her.