From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV

My Brother, Ben

Each handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too.

Lawrence Bixby

When my brother was born he looked different from other babies. The doctors told my parents he had Down’s syndrome. Everybody, including my parents and relatives, started crying. I was only three at the time, so I wasn’t sure what Down’s syndrome was, but I knew it wasn’t good. I also knew that I finally had the baby brother I wanted, even if he wasn’t perfect. The doctors said Benjamin might need help doing simple things such as walking, talking, eating and interacting with people. I was told I would need to be extra careful with Ben, and that I might someday have to stand up for him and protect him. Of course, none of these warnings fazed me; I knew from the second I laid eyes on him that I loved him.

As Benjamin and I got older, we were always together, always helping each other. After Benjamin learned to walk, we wanted to get him to jump, run and move around. Since Ben liked to follow my lead, his therapist or Mom would have me do the exercise first, and then Ben would try to do it. That procedure worked better than just anybody showing him how to move. Following me was Ben’s way of saying he loved me.

A few years ago, I went away with some friends for the day. About five of us were just sitting in the van, and we started talking about our siblings. My friends were saying how stupid their siblings were and what they did to agitate them. I hadn’t said anything; I was just listening in amazement. I had never thought there were brothers and sisters that just didn’t get along. Suddenly I said, “I love my brother.”

I said “love” proudly because it was true. All my friends thought I was a little weird, but they all knew Benjamin and how sweet he was. I was glad I told my friends I love my brother. He’s the best little brother, and he loves me right back.

I would describe Ben as a very cute little nine-year-old boy that would do anything for anybody. If people tease him because he has Down’s syndrome he doesn’t scream and call them names. Instead, he tries even harder to become their friend.

There are no second thoughts in my head when I hear people making fun of Ben. I go right up to them and explain that Ben has Down’s syndrome and that life isn’t as easy for him as it is for us, that if you give Ben a chance he’ll be the best he can be at whatever it is you want him to be.

I think Ben is perfect just the way he is. I will always love Ben, and he will always love me, no matter what.

Donata Allison

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