Bless Them (by The Down Syndrome Express)

When I was in fifth grade, I spent the night with my friend, Karen. Her parents took us to the drive-in to see my first PG movie, Bless the Beasts and the Children. The Carpenters sang the title song, and they were my favorite group, with many of their songs touching me deeply. The movie ended with the tragic death of a character I had gotten quite attached to, so I found the whole experience very poignant and it has always stuck with me emotionally.

Here is an excerpt from the song:

Bless the beasts and the children

For in this world they have no voice

They have no choice

Bless the beasts and the children

For the world can never be

The world they see

Light their way

When the darkness surrounds them

Give them love

Let it shine all around them

I realized recently that I think of this song every time I think of a child, especially one with special needs. And because all the emotions of seeing that movie, hearing the song, and being so deeply moved by the music of The Carpenters, I have a very special place in my heart for ANYONE who seems to be in an underdog position.

Although I did not understand how to show compassion to special needs people when I was a child, now that I am a mother of 4 typical children and 1 special needs child, I have a huge amount of that compassion. Compassion is good, of course, but I have read much by parents of special needs kids who say they see their kids as no different from the others, in terms of how the parents treat the kids. Setting boundaries, setting expectations, all those things are still in place with their special needs kids.

I have struggled with figuring out how to set boundaries for my little guy who has Down syndrome. I wonder if it is reasonable to expect someone who is delayed in several developmental areas to understand or be able to practice self-control at age 2. The doctors told us that a child with Down syndrome can learn, and indeed I have seen that in Kepler, but it is very challenging to me to have appropriate expectations for this little guy.

And then the chorus of Bless the Beasts and the Children floats through my mind, and I think, “All I want to do is give him love, and let it shine all around him.” If we surround him with love, perhaps all the rest will take care of itself. In the meantime, I look for wisdom on how to deal with him throwing his spoon and bowl at the end of every meal.

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