My daughter’s pregnancy with their new baby was one of excitement and anticipation. Four-year-old Sidney, wanted a little sister she could dress up. Mom Heidi had enjoyed Sidney’s babyhood so much, she was open to another girl. And to hair bows, Gymboree dresses, and fluffy tutus. Dad Eric, as might be expected, leaned toward new testosterone territory – a baby boy.
But most of all, everyone wanted a healthy child. Heidi’s age made her a better candidate for a Down syndrome birth than several years earlier. We discussed it sometimes, she wondering how she would handle such a challenge while I comforted myself that God would give His special grace wherever needed. True, I didn’t know any of these special children personally. But what I had experienced at my workplace provided a particular view of this population, endearing them to me.
EXAMPLE: Some years back, the local community college educated a number of these special kids during the day. They took classes and enjoyed the benefits of the campus, especially our library, where I worked at the Circulation Desk.
One day, a typical student marched up to the desk, slammed his fist on the counter and said, “Hey! How about some service here?” I looked up from my project and tried not to fake my can’t-wait-to-assist-you smile.
“Sure,” I said. “How may I help?”
He held up a book. “See this? I’m going to drop this book into the slot and stand here and wait while you check it in. I don’t want to get ANY overdue notices from you guys ever again. That’s just *&%$#*!” He stared at me until I had completed the transaction and the book was filed on the book truck, and then he trounced off.
What a day-brightener. Was it a full moon or something?
A little later, one of our special kids came in and stopped in front of the book drop, waiting until I noticed him. His eyes shone and his grin widened as he held up a library book sporting a colorful cover.
“I liked reading this book. It’s due today. Thank you!” He slipped it through the slot and waved good-bye, still smiling as he headed for the exit.
Now, I ask you, which is the better communicator? Who is the real day-brightener? Who adds more value to society?
As a mere mortal, I cannot declare one person of more value than another. Nor should I. But numerous situations like this built a fondness within me for those special needs kids. They always arrived with cheerful attitudes in tow. Never ill will. They brought what I seemed to need. Eventually, I came to think of them as individuals born without malice. Like they lacked the mean gene.
Or maybe were born with an extra kindness-chromosome.
So when my daughter had to recognize the risk that her coming child could be born with Down syndrome or some other disability, I was able to say with honesty, “I love Down’s kids.” It wasn’t something I knew much about, nor relished for us, but I knew God’s grace would cover the situation, as always. And the sweet students I had observed over the years softened my apprehensions.
When Nicholas Scott was born without any problems, gratitude filled my heart. This special boy would not face the challenges of Down’s. Other challenges? Of course. But not this one.
Yet I could not help but pray that Nicholas’s nature would be sweet and without malice, like those other special kids I met along the way.
Special children who were not only day-brighteners, but role models, too.
For more information about one dear family’s journey with Down syndrome (DS), check out The Voetmann Family. Sweet-sweet!