I know everyone likes to see nice and sunny, funny stories about my sister Amanda, who despite (or maybe partially due to) having Down syndrome, has an offbeat, self-deprecating sense of humor and a characteristic bluntness. Her one-liners quickly became a hit when I started publishing them on my FB page.
For instance: Amanda is obsessed with past relationships. I was married twice; once in a prior lifetime, back in the early eighties. Even now, all these years later, she still occasionally brings that up — an ancient history that I would just as soon forget. Now Amanda and I both are drifting into *gasp* middle age, complete with the side effects of wrinkled brows and curly blonde chin hairs. But she still loves to ask people about their exes, and to my chagrin, she has extended this inquisition to various men that I’ve dated. She queried one guy about his ex wife’s appearance and he replied, “She’s four feet tall and has a beard and a mustache.”
“Oh,” Amanda said. “She looks like me.”
Unfortunately, with these light-hearted moments come an occasional darker one. It’s especially sad that for us, the darker ones are usually dealt by family members. It was my normal MO to ignore other people’s bad behavior, and focus on the positive side of life. But now I am finding that ignoring bad behavior doesn’t make it go away. The book I co-authored with Amanda has raised a number of eyebrows, with or without the chin whiskers.
The bottom line is, bullies don’t like being called out.
Today the trend on Facebook is all about the video of one Bradley Knudson, from Prior Lake Minnesota, whose daughter is the victim of bullying. Mr. Knudson is calling them out by name, in a YouTube video now thankfully going viral. I say, “thankfully” because shedding light on this problem is the best way to solve it. I applaud him.
People who don’t have enough conscience or personal integrity to self-monitor should be stripped of their cloaking devices. My siblings have threatened Amanda, her guardian and me with lawsuits and who knows what else, because we have exposed their bad behavior in THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN. We’ve even lost one of our five-star Amazon reviews, which our reader apparently deleted after the threats went public.
The funny thing is, in reading these reviews, one sees that they don’t focus on the bad behavior of siblings. They focus on Amanda’s strength, her inherent wisdom, her bravery. This tells me that our message is ringing true loud and clear: Get your affairs in order. Be kind. Stay strong. Follow the love. No matter who you are, what your disability, age, color, gender, chromosome or DNA, you have a voice. Don’t let anyone force you into silence.