If the words "prom queen" bring to mind a cheerleader with perfect teeth and perfect hair, get ready to adjust your perceptions. Carolann Nunez is the prom queen at Americas High School in Texas. And Carolann also happens to have Down syndrome.
It's the kind of story that leaves a dopey grin on my face. I'm happy for this kid and her personal triumph. But I'd be lying if I didn't say there wasn't some selfish part of me that sees Carolann's crowning as a sign of something bigger.
If a kid with Down syndrome who took her daddy as her date to the prom (seriously, cue the tears y'all) can be crowned the prom queen ... well, excuse the naivete, but I'm going to say darn near anything is possible. Kids can be different. And the OTHER kids can learn to not only live with it but celebrate it.
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When we send our kids to school, there's always part of us that hems and haws over whether we should tell them to rock that uniqueness or try to scrub at the raw edges until they're smooth. I'm not proud to admit that, but let's face it ... no one wants to be the parent of the "weird" kid. The genius who is totally blasting the other students away? The most likely to succeed but also most likely to be liked kid? Yeah. Everyone wants to have the popular kid. But it's inherent in our nature to protect our kids from would-be bullies. We are parents. We want our kids to succeed in all things, and that includes the social arena.
When kids like Carolann aren't just accepted but celebrated, it breaks down a barrier. Her bravery paves the way for more kids who are "different" to make that "difference" become de rigeuer.
What is the "difference" in your kid you always worry will get them picked on?
Image via jennifer donley/Flickr