In case you didn’t know, Down syndrome music is just like any other music with the exception of it being much more happy, animated and intense.
They Always Know the Good Stuff
Take any song from the past seven decades and I can tell you if it was a hit simply by watching my son’s reaction. Down syndrome music is serious stuff. In case you didn’t know, Down syndrome music is just like any other music with the exception of it being much more happy, animated and intense. To many of these people who sport a bonus chromosome, life is about being happy and making others happy. Music is just one of the tools that brings such happiness, but it is one of the favorite arrows in their quivers. Down syndrome music includes simple timeless classics like The Birthday Song, Wheels on the Bus, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. My son, Jack, has never outgrown these songs, but his likes include chart toppers like the ones that might be on anyone’s list of favorites. He Likes Big Butts and I Cannot Lie. But what I’d give to rid his mind of that one!
I tried to talk him out of going to the concert because if Jack loves Down syndrome music, he HATES rain.
To Jack, it’s about how Down syndrome music makes him feel. Sometimes it’s the lyrics, sometimes it’s the tempo or melody. Sometimes it’s all of the above. But Jack, as so many with that bonus chromosome, loves music. Because of that fact, my wife presented him with tickets to an outdoor Alan Jackson concert for his birthday. The concert, scheduled for last Saturday evening, was “rain or shine.” It rained. And it was COLD! I tried to talk him out of going to the concert because if Jack loves Down syndrome music, he HATES rain. It turns out he loves Alan Jackson more than he hates rain. Now, I like Alan Jackson, but there’s a limit to my commitment. It might not have been as bad if I was a drinker, but I’m not. Perhaps I should have started last Saturday evening.
Though no instruments or voices were involved, that roaring engine was Down syndrome music to Jack’s ears.
Though Jack loves about any song that Alan Jackson sings, he has a favorite. Mr. Jackson told the story behind that song at the concert the other night. After the death of his father, he wanted to write a song as a tribute to his dad, but he didn’t want it to be a “cryin’ dyin’” song. So instead, he reached back in his memory and wrote a song about all of the times his daddy let him drive. Well, Alan’s daddy was better than Jack’s dad. As much as he wanted to drive, I didn’t see a way to make it happen. Several years ago some awesome neighbors of ours remedied my failure. Dusty and Cory Hardman are brothers who build demolition derby cars for competitions during the summer. We can often hear the uncapped headers on the engines roaring across the 3/4s of a mile of hayfields from our house. Ever since we have lived in the area, the Hardman brothers have had Jack come down and paint his name on their cars. One year they even let Jack ride in the car that was trailered during the local parade. They said he couldn’t hurt anything but I thought he’d blow the engine when he figured out the kill-switch system and how to start it while refusing to take his foot off the gas as his heart and the engine raced. Though no instruments or voices were involved, that roaring engine was Down syndrome music to Jack’s ears.
The only consolation to Jack was that Down syndrome music had included the announcer getting the crowd to sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with him.
Cory Hardman wanted even more for Jack the next year. After my son finished painting his name on the car, Cory asked him if he wanted to drive it. Jack lost his mind while I kept asking if Cory really though it was a good idea. “We’ll put a helmet on him,” Cory said. “I’ll get a milk crate and sit in the passenger side with the kill switch. I’ll let him drive around the hay field. If he gets too close to a fence, I’ll shut it down. What could go wrong?” The next five minutes were spent with Jack throwing up dirt and dust while tearing up the Hardman’s field, where boys with dreams are more important than dollars and hay. It took Jack days to calm down from that experience. It was all we could do to keep him from climbing the fence to get into the demolition derby arena a few days later at the competition. The only consolation to Jack was that Down syndrome music had included the announcer getting the crowd to sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with him.
I thought it was sweet that Ashley caught the spirit of Down syndrome music and Jack’s desire to just be like everyone else, but I thought she’d go back to her seat after the song.
So when Jack rocks out to Alan Jackson’s “Drive” he relives 350 horse power and tearing up the neighbor’s field. He was out of his mind waiting for that song to play during the concert. Luckily, we had gotten Jack a seat that was next to the aisle. Even during the warmup bands, Jack spent some of his time rocking out in the aisle to Down syndrome music. But from the time Mr. Jackson fired up, Jack never slowed down. It didn’t take long for Ashley Kurowski to catch the enthusiasm. She told her husband that she was going to dance with Jack and he thought that was a great idea. The rain had tempered the crowd, but Jack and Ashley were rocking out in the aisle like it was the middle of summer. I thought it was sweet that Ashley caught the spirit of Down syndrome music and Jack’s desire to just be like everyone else, but I thought she’d go back to her seat after the song. She didn’t and continued to dance as the next song began, not knowing the significance of Drive to Jack and our family.
Thanks for catching the spirit of Down syndrome music, dear friends.
Soon, Ashley’s friend, Kelsi Despain was taking her turn with Jack while both husbands cheered their wives on. Before long, the husbands had joined the growing party that Jack, Ashley and Kelsi had started. The size of the crowd varied as the evening went on with anywhere between ten and twenty-five people dancing to Down syndrome music in the aisle at Jack’s party. And I thought… How sad is it that I grow accustomed to people with bonus chromosomes because I have Jack in my life every day. Sometimes it takes people like Dusty, Cory, Ashley, Kelsi and their husbands to remind me what an incredible experience it is to enjoy every moment with someone like my son. Thanks for catching the spirit of Down syndrome music, dear friends. My life and jack’s life are so much better because of people like you.
And Mr. Alan Jackson, thanks for such an incredible selection of Down syndrome music (it’s just like other music, but it’s more happy, animated and intense). Thanks for Jack’s favorite AJ song; Drive, and all of the memories it stirs in our family. And thanks for a great show. Next time I’ll be there with a smile on my face, “rain or shine.”
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