Our son Stephen is a beautiful young man. He’s our first, and he’s special. Just ask him. Seriously though, Stephen has Down Syndrome, and he’s a joy. He’s thoughtful, emotional, and sincere. He does the best job of keeping his room clean of all of our four children. And he’s by far the funniest member of the family, and I don’t mean just cute (although he is that, too). He’s quicker on the draw than anyone else, and his encyclopedic knowledge of lines from movies and TV means he’s always ready with a pithy comeback written by the likes of Ray Romano or Tim Allen, so they’re usually pretty good.
If you have a child with Down Syndrome, then you know weight gain can be an issue. Sadly for Stephen, it’s even more so. First and foremost, Stephen loves to eat (he comes by that honestly). Unfortunately, Down Syndrome carries with it a slower metabolism, so he burns calories much less efficiently. When coupled with my family’s hereditary tendency to pack on pounds, he gets a double whammy in the weight gain department.
One day when Stephen was in his early teens, his grandmother had made some of his very favorite cupcakes, the dark chocolate kind with thick, gooey chocolate icing. After Stephen quickly ate his first delicious cupcake, naturally he wanted to experience the whole thing again. But, being the good parents we are (ahem), we gently refused his request by explaining that he didn’t need the extra calories, and we piously told him, “Stephen, we love you too much to let you eat another cupcake.” What came out of Stephen’s mouth next wasn’t a Robert Barone quote, or a Tim “The Toolman” Taylor line, but from what we can tell was pure Stephen:
“Why don’t you take all that love and turn it into another cupcake?”
Once we picked ourselves up off the floor, we had to step back and marvel at God’s creation of Stephen. Here was a young man with a developmental disability, less than capable in the eyes of the world, and yet who was able to immediately recognize a funny situation and seize it before his non-disabled parents even knew what happened. This just confirmed what David told us in the book of Psalms, that Stephen had been “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God, just like every other human life that ever existed. God’s care starts at the moment of conception, forming each one of us even while we are still in the womb. While my wife was carrying him, I can just imagine God chuckling to Himself when he thought of all the ways Stephen would make us laugh and bring joy to our lives. And thankfully, there’ve been a lot of them. So, if you ever meet Stephen and he asks you, “Can you smell-l-l-l-l-l what the Rock is cooking?”, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. (Did I mention he likes wrestling too?)
And yes, Stephen got another cupcake.