The Boy at the Gym

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I went to the gym last night, I know this because I hurt all over and I feel a bit smugger than I did the day before. I take no great pleasure in going to the gym other than telling people “I went to the gym last night” – it sounds good.  I take long breaks between exercises to check if I’ve grown a six pack yet and debate whether Gangster Rap music is really conducive to better exercise.

I saw a lady who was sat looking on adoringly at her son who was exercising. She was wearing a work uniform; it was about 7:30pm and presumably she had left work, picked up her son, taken him to the gym and was just happy to watch him enjoy himself. I felt a wave of parental admiration for her because I suspect she was still some way from doing anything remotely for herself. I had a little word with myself “take note Matthew, that is the face you should be pulling the next time you watch Max at work”.

Her son was Down’s syndrome. I started thinking about it and I don’t think I’ve ever actually had any sort of encounter with anyone with Down’s syndrome. The boy came over and sat next to me where I was exercising, right next to me. I could feel him looking at me, really looking hard. He started mimicking all the exercises I was doing, bad posture and all. I looked at him and he flashed me a smile, a genuinely happy, loving smile.

He probably wouldn’t have realised it but it was one of those moments that actually meant something to me. Two people who have never met making one another happy. We weren’t trying to work one another out, there were no barriers up, we weren’t trying to impress each other and there were no agendas. It was like getting a hug from someone special.

I won’t go into any clichés about feeling fortunate that I have a completely healthy son (I do) or what a great job she was doing (she was) because that wasn’t what I felt, I just felt happy I met him. I hope I bump into him again, he was cool.

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  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    What a lovely experience! And go you at the gym!

  • Sonia from Sonia Styling

    He does sound cool. As cool as the boy with Down’s syndrome that lives opposite the park at the end of my street. He shoots hoops and scooters around on his own. When I’m there with our puppy, he stops for a chat and to pat Amalfi who he says is “very fluffy” – he’s not wrong there! His smile also makes me smile and I really enjoy our encounters. I will be sure to tell him next time I see him.

  • Brenda Smith

    Thanks for sharing that experience. I wish all gym experiences were like that, I might even go if they were. Great Post!

  • Richard Farrar

    How wonderful for you. These moments are rare so enjoy the memory of it for as long as you can.

  • KezUnprepared

    So lovely. Back in my days as a check out chick, I had a young man with Downs who was a great customer. So lovely and chatty. He always had impeccable manners – what a gentleman. For some reason every interaction with him felt like a special moment. I am quite ignorant about Down’s Syndrome (just my luck) but I learnt the very important lesson that he was just another lovely human being and should be treated as such.

  • Smaggle

    I used to teach special ed and that’s the one thing that always bothered me, is that the parents never ever get a rest. Depending on their childs needs, they might not ever leave home, get a job, get married or have kids of their own. Kids with downs syndrome are slightly easier because they’re so happy and joy filled. I used to do respite for a family with 3 grown up sons with autism and they were non-verbal and very introverted. Their mother was the most beautiful woman but she was 65 and she’d been caring for these boys for her whole life and she once told me that she wasn’t even sure if they really loved her or even liked her. It was heart breaking.

  • Kat – The Organised Housewife

    Such a sweet story, and you write it so well.

  • Teagan Childs

    I’m so glad you wrote this post, some people can be so closed minded. So we’ll written. My sister who is 24 has down syndrome & they really are such special happy and caring people. Anyone who has someone like that in their life is very lucky!

  • Jil

    I enjoyed this, thank you! But rather than “was Down Syndrome” how about “had Down Syndrome”. A small change but quite a different connotation.

  • Maria @ Mummy Goes Mad

    Loved reading this! Thanks for sharing such a sweet story :)

  • Amelia Paul

    It’s nice of you to share to us this fact. Well, it is quite important that we all have to have a basic knowledge about the things around us, and we should know how to take care of them. Flower delivery Melbourne