What a Storyteller with Down Syndrome and Bedford Iowa Teach the World

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This last weekend, Hedgie’s Books and Toys in Bedford, IA, hosted a fun and well attended “End of the Summer Monster Bash” in honor of the last weekend before back to school. The event featured Black Day: The Monster Rock Band.

Marcus Sikora, author, and the viewing of Black Day: The Monster Rock Band in Bedford, Iowa.
Marcus Sikora, author, and the viewing of Black Day: The Monster Rock Band in Bedford, Iowa.
photo by Sandy Schubert, courtesy of Hedgie's Toys and Books

You Never Know...

Every reading and book event is unique. You never know who or how many people will show up. It’s the nature of the book-promoting-beast. In this case, folks came from miles around, ready for Marcus and his book. The families lined up before the showing of the animated short to buy a book with DVD and get his autograph.

The Autograph Process Can Be Long

When Marcus Sikora gives out autographs, the lines run long.

Two reasons, 1) People like autographs from an author they have met in real life. 2) It takes a long time for Marcus to write out each requested name.

The way the signing process goes is this: We say hello. We ask the name, then the spelling, then Marcus begins. He writes, “To” then I, or the parent, or the child, begin to spell the name again, and Marcus proceeds carefully, one letter at a time. Many children have a hard - - - HARD - - time spelling their name one letter at…a…time. It’s like with a phone number, you know how you take a running start with the area code, then the rest of it comes out in one breath, and if you get lost in the middle you have to start all over, because one number at a time doesn’t make sense. Or is that just me?

Back to Marcus, once he has one letter down, he’ll start on the next letter. When someone moves on to the next letter too quickly, it’s confusing. Plus, think about this, he’s sitting there in front of a line of people, concentrating on writing a name he’s never heard (with everyone watching), plus there’s always commotion, like other kids playing and squirming, and then there’s general talking and festivities. It’s always plenty of stimulation while on the spot. Personally, it is A LOT, so I’ve learned to really kind of zone in on the people in front of us, and Marcus has come along way since last summer to do that, too.

Heck, I get distracted just telling you about it. In fact, I’ve already lost my place. Where was I? Oh, right, so Marcus is taking one letter in every name at a time. And people are waiting, and smiling, and getting in and/or staying in line. And I’m thinking…

I’m thinking:

Please, please, please people stay patient. Just stay patient. He can do this. It’s not easy, though. Do you see how hard he works for every letter? He’s doing every letter for you and he’s working very hard to do it. But he Is. Doing. It. Don’t focus on how long it takes, please focus on what he is doing…for you. You noticed that, too, right? You notice that he’s doing this for you.

Marcus Sikora autographing for a young reader in Omaha, Ne
Marcus Sikora autographing for a young reader in Omaha, Ne

I Noticed, You Noticed

Sometimes at “gigs” I talk a little about Marcus and the process. We answer questions about the book and creating the short. Yesterday I thought about pointing out to this predominately “abled” audience of parents and children: “You noticed that Marcus took little longer to do something that probably comes easily to you, but he did it. He does it. His talents aren’t limited by his can’ts, or what is hard, his talents are not even in spite of these points, his talents are both varied and valid – like all of yours – and we should celebrate that in each of us.”

Another thing I felt compelled to share was, “Marcus’ strengths are unique to him, like all of us. His difficulties, and the areas he works hard to achieve in, may also be the same as others with Ds, and then again, they may be very different.” I want parents of other children with and without Ds to see possibility, and also see that their own child can and will build his own story. Her own path. Marcus’ can’s and struggles are only one example of possibility. There are many, many others as unique as every other person in this wide world.

However, I didn’t say all that yesterday because well…there’s the composition mantra: Show don’t tell. I felt the lovely folks of Bedford were showing me they didn’t need to be told. They demonstrated both patience and celebration. Plus, Marcus, the star, did his part. He continues to share “I’m a storyteller” in addition to the unspoken traits of perseverance and initiative from Bedford to Omaha to Denver to Texas, and beyond.

The people of Bedford, Iowa showed me maybe the world is listening, growing, and changing. While Marcus is just beginning show the world what he can do, share, and teach.

Post originally published on GrownUpsAndDowns.com where you can follow along with #BlackDayBook and more of Marcus’ adventures. Check out this video for a peek at Marcus and creating Black Day: The Monster Rock Band.

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