Down syndrome from a father's perspective.

Johnny Cash, Kid Rock, and Down syndrome

What do Johnny Cash, Kid Rock, and Down syndrome have in common?

Music can connect with you in amazing ways.

Riding in my car the other day a new song came on the radio that summed up how I felt about Treyton. It was one of those “wow” moments. I did my best to figure out who the singer was so I could find the song on iTunes later. Now I want to share my experience with you.

I know you have had similar experiences.

I love to listen to music, all types of music and always have. People say that kids with Down syndrome like music as well. I can tell you that, yes, Treyton likes music but I choose to believe that it is something he got from me and not Down syndrome. I mean, come on, he is more my son than he is a kid with a certain diagnosis.

Now, even if you don’t like music that way I do I am sure you have had at least one experience where you really connected with a song for one reason or another. For example, I am sure that most guys my age have envisioned themselves on a horse “mending fences” at some point when the Eagles come on the radio singing “Desperado.” Or how about how about the song “High School Never Ends” by Bowling for Soup? Doesn’t that give you the “in your face” feeling for all of the idiots you left in high school?

Maybe it is Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” or Queen with “We Are the Champions.” Perhaps you have a wild side and like a little Kid Rock. Can’t you see yourself “sipping whiskey from the bottle?” I am sure you can’t but that song still can stir up your own memories. I love Johnny Cash. His songs have a way of connecting with me like no other artist can. Music can really bring a message home.

I yelled he’s mine that one
Got a wild-hair side and then some
It’s no surprise what he’s done
He’s ever last bit of my old man’s son
And I’ll take the blame
And claim him every time
Yeah man, he’s mine and he’ll always be
The best thing that ever happened to me
You can’t turn it off like electricity
I will love him unconditionally
And I’ll take the blame
And claim him every time
Yeah, y’all, he’s mine
I thank God, he’s mine

Rodney Atkins, “He’s Mine”

This time it was a country song.

I listen to a lot of 90′s rock, some newer and some older rock, country, and a mixture of a lot of different types of music. I would imagine a psychiatrist could have a heyday if he examined my iPod. But this time it was a song by Rodney Atkins called “He’s Mine” that really hit me.

The song tells a story about a man whose son tends to get into a little trouble. Maybe trouble is the wrong word; it is more mischief or just being a kid. A neighbor man finds the kid smoking and shooting bottles with his friends. At another point the kid was thrown out of a football game for defending his team’s kicker (I really like that one). After each of these examples the man says yes, that boy is mine.

I will claim him every time.

I really like the line, “he’s mine and he’ll always be the best thing that ever happened to me.” That is how I feel about Treyton. When I see him running around getting into things I just have to smile and thank God that he is mine. I don’t give a $#!% about Down syndrome – that’s my boy.

Don’t tell me that Treyton does this or that because that is what kid’s with Down syndrome do. No, Treyton does what he does because he is Treyton that is what Treyton does. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in denial. I know Treyton has Down syndrome.  I accept that Treyton has Down syndrome and that it may cause cognitive delays, health issues, and slow motor skill development.  I just don’t care.  I am willing to work with Treyton and help him be the best person God created him to be – whatever that is.

The person that is in denial is the one that wants to attribute everything my kids does to a diagnosis. They are the ones that are denying that my kid is awesome because he is Treyton.

The answer to the question.

What do Johnny Cash, Kid Rock, and Down syndrome have in common? Me.  I am connected to them all in one way or another.

Rob Arnold has been married to his high school sweetheart for almost 19 years. Together they have three daughters and one son. He earned his bachelor's degree in General Business from Grand Valley State University as well as an MBA in Strategic Management from Davenport University. He enjoys reading, hunting, scuba diving, and spending time with his family.