Prince Different (Prins Annorlunda) By Sören Olsson & Yvonne Brynggård-Olsson
Many people have asked us what it felt like having a child with a disability. It is not so easy to respond. But we can explain it with a metaphorical story.
We would be taking a trip to Norway.
That was the idea.
At the beginning, we were not especially interested in traveling at all. But many of our friends had been to Norway and they recommended it warmly.
After thinking about it for a while, we finally decided.
It had to be Norway! It seemed to be safe and secure, and we decided to go there.
Norway felt familiar and in all essentials it resembled Sweden. You could easily get along speaking Swedish, although a little slower, and the culture was not particularly unfamiliar. It would not involve any difficulties in adapting from the safe and well-known in Sweden.
There followed months of planning and preparation. We read travel guides and dictionaries, and we dreamed about everything we wanted to see and explore when we arrived.
Expectations were high when it was finally time to set off.
Nine months of longing would finally end with a fairly safe and uncomplicated trip to Norway.
Imagine our astonishment when the doors of the plane were opened and it was revealed that we had landed in Mongolia ...
That's about how you could describe the great surprise, shock and overwhelming emotion that struck us on the day when our son was born.
He had Down's syndrome.
Now we were standing in an astonishing foreign country, without either map, dictionary, or guide. We had no notion of what awaited us in this unknown and frightening land.
Nothing reminded us of either Sweden or the Norway that we had planned to travel to.
With stumbling steps we had to begin exploring this new and undiscovered landscape.
With time we learned to love this different country. It became like our second home. And it often seems to us that it feels more at home there than in Sweden.
New aspects of this different and exciting land are constantly popping up. There is something stimulating about not knowing what is waiting beyond the next corner.
But it is not just a beautiful and relaxing journey. Because of the cultural differences, we are compelled to live in constant uncertainty and without control. There are parts of this country that we still have difficulty accepting and making peace with. There are, as in all lands, certain parts that one wishes would be different.
But the day we leave earthly life, we can say with happiness that we have traveled to Mongolia. It is not everyone who is able to or dares to.
We take pride in this country. We love it with all of its advantages and imperfections.
PS: And now we have also been to Norway two times and it is terrific there too!