By Mark E. Smith
As he spun on the salon chair, his joy was contagious. No one else his age, 20s, would dare spin on the chair, hands thrust in the air, yelling, “Woohoo!” but he did. Most of us would be too self conscious, too restricted by social norms. But, his authenticity allowed him to do what we’d all love to do – that is, follow our unbridled enthusiasm. Yes, he was different from the rest of us, and we were all a little jealous.
He stopped spinning for a moment, looked at my 17-year-old daughter and waived, flashing a big grin.
“I’m Kevin,” he said.
“Hi, Kevin,” my daughter replied from her seat along the front window. “I’m Emily.”
“Emily, watch…,” he replied, spinning some more, hands in the air.
He spun, and he spun, and he spun until his mother and father pulled him from the chair.
“Bye, Emily – I’ll call you,” he said, putting his hand to his ear in a telephone gesture, and we all giggled at how adorably unabashed he was, moving toward the door.
As he left, I glanced at my daughter and soon there was a knock on the window behind us. We looked, and Keven blew Emily a big kiss, promptly dragged away, smiling, by his mom.
I was immediately struck with the thought that whoever defines intellectual disabilities has it all wrong. I realized that there were a lot of us with intellectual disabilities in the salon that eve, but Kevin wasn’t one. He followed his enthusiasm, lived with an uninhibited heart and wasn’t afraid to extend love to others. Few of us could say the same.