Prime Time Crime

(Published in the Odyssey online Feb.  9, 2016)

What My Best Friend With Down Syndrome Has Taught Me  


By Laura Green



Everyone likes to think that their best friend has taught them something or has somehow had a say in creating the person we are today. I am so lucky to get to say my best friend has taught me things I will remember for the rest of my life, and I wouldn't be who I am today without her. From her, I learned about patience, kindness, understanding, friendship, perseverance, acceptance, and the list goes on. However, my best friend and I aren't your "typical" duo of girl best friends. She is four feet and nine inches with almond shaped eyes and has a third copy of the twenty-first chromosome-she has Down syndrome.

However, her having Down syndrome never hindered her from teaching me the things I utilize in my every day life. It never stopped her from comforting me when I cried, congratulating me when something exciting happened, and being the best friend I've ever had.

She taught me it's okay to lose sometimes, and it's okay to not be the best at something. We were in theater together and if she didn't see her name next to the part she wanted and was placed in the ensemble, she still celebrated as if she had been cast as the leading role. She saw her name on the cast list, which meant she was in it and a part of it, and it didn't matter to her what she did after that, because she got to do something she loved. 

"Try again" is a phrase she is famous for saying, because she always taught me it's okay to try again. If I failed a math test and was upset about it, her words of advice would be, "It's okay Laura, try again next time." One time we were out together and there was a step she didn't see and she stumbled over, and she said "try again" and made herself go back and properly go down the step.  

Sometimes she will get stuck on and obsess over something, as she doesn't always do well with changes of plans, especially when they are sudden. For example, on a three-day-weekend when neither of us had school on Monday, she simply could not understand why she wasn't going to be able to go to the bank like she did every Monday. Even though we kept saying "it's cancelled", "it's a holiday and the banks are closed", and even stating it plain and simple that she just wasn't going to be making a trip to the bank, she kept saying over and over "No bank tomorrow. It's cancelled.....Can I still go to the bank tomorrow?" And I would just re-explain and find new ways to say it to her until she eventually (about forty-five minutes later) let it go and moved on. Her doing this taught me patience and understanding. 

Confidence and perseverance radiates off of her whenever she walks into a room, her persona just screams "This is me, deal with it." I watched her audition for A Midsummer Nights Dream, and although she didn't have her monologue memorized and was nervous, she got up there and said her introduction flawlessly. She then continued to read through her monologue with intonation in her voice, high volume and energy, and even used hand movements throughout it to make a point about what she was saying-nothing she had ever done before. When she finished she got a standing ovation and an uproar of cheers from everyone in the room, even from the directors.  

If I had to place everything she has taught me on a list and put one at the top, it would be her ability to be a friend and how important it is to be a good one, and how important it is to make others feel valued. When I was really upset about something, I came home from work to a bouquet of flowers she dropped off. I had a text on my phone from her that said "Don't worry. I will give you a hug. I love you." When we go out, she makes sure to tell me "You look so beautiful, Laura!" Whenever we talk on the phone, she asks about how everyone in my family is doing, even my aunts, uncles, cousins, and ones she has only met once. When I was home sick from school for a week, she kept everyone updated on how I was doing and made me two Get-Well cards. She is an astounding friend who never expects anything in return.  


All of these experiences and more I go over in my head everyday to implement the life lessons she has taught me. Everyone assumes people with disabilities learn from us, but I can promise that I've learned more from her, and I wouldn't have it any other way. She has taught me more than any teacher in a classroom has. Sometimes the greatest things in life come in the packages you never expected.



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