Thursday, March 20, 2014

When you wonder what to say :: Celebrating World Down Syndrome Day

We had just traveled across the country, I think it was about 9 hours worth of travel time, with our two youngest children.  The baby was just 5 weeks old, and Mason was 17 months old.  Still dealing with postpartum issues and sleepless nights, we were both exhausted and ready to enjoy a few days with good friends in San Diego.

There was a bit of confusion in our rental car arrangements, so we were sitting in the rental car lounge waiting for our vehicle to be ready.

It's not easy to sit anywhere with two very small children and go unnoticed.  People started asking how far apart the two were in age, remarked on the cuteness of our children, and some even wanted to play with Mason.

About fifteen minutes into our wait, we noticed a family walk in.  Dad, Mom, middle school aged son, and a younger daughter.  It didn't take long for us to notice that the son had Down Syndrome.

He was a handsome and quiet guy.  I couldn't help but watch their family interact.  I overheard a little bit of their conversation, and learned that the daughter's name was Genevieve--pretty ironic.

Mason continued to grow louder as I played with him from our seat, and eventually the Mom turned around to see who was causing the commotion.  She smiled at us, turned back around and I saw her say something to her husband.  He turned around as well, and very quickly we had all exchanged knowing glances and smiles.

Instantly there was a bond.  A bond of bearing, holding, loving, learning, grieving, cherishing, and living out life with a child who has Down Syndrome.

Everything in me wanted to run to them,  hug them, and ask them all kinds of questions:  "How did you potty train him?"  "Is he in a regular classroom at school?"  "When did he learn to talk?"  "What advice can you give me?" "How am I supposed to do this?"  "Can we please be friends?"

Since Mason was born, almost two years ago, these have often been my thoughts when I see people in public with someone who has Down Syndrome.  I realize that in most circumstances running up to a complete stranger and bombarding them with these questions would be awkward at the least, and perhaps even inappropriate or offensive.  So, I restrain.  But, I've always wondered what to do and if I should say anything at all.

This family in the rental car lounge that day in San Diego completed their business, got their key, and started to leave the building.  They passed by Bradley on their way out, and the Dad stopped and said to my husband,

"You have a beautiful family."

Five simple words that conveyed acknowledgement, understanding, love, and a desire to reach out.

Now I know what to say to the new mom who holds her baby tightly, hoping no one notices the different features of her baby's face.

"Your baby is beautiful."

I can smile and interact with the little boy running around the store with his tired mom.

"What a happy little boy you have."

I can go out of my way to speak to the young adults I see shopping in Wal-Mart with their caretaker, like I did yesterday:

"How are ya'll doing today?"

And in each of these situations I can connect with people who understand what it's like to live life with Down Syndrome.

Tomorrow is World Down Syndrome Day, so I want to take a minute to encourage you, whether you are raising a child with Down Syndrome, know someone who is, or just encounter strangers as you go through life.

People with Down Syndrome are longing to connect with you.

They have emotions, interests, concerns, insecurities, awkwardness at times, and maybe you won't be able to understand everything they say.  But, you can connect with them.  Just a few simple words to let them know that they are valued.

And, if you can't think of anything to say, just make eye contact and smile.

To read more about World Down Syndrome Day click here.


  1. What beautiful words, Lauren. I was moved to tears. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Beautiful Lauren! Thank you for sharing your heart so publicly.

  3. Lauren, This was beautiful. I have a friend, Julie, from church who has a 19 year old daughter with Down Syndrome. I wrote to you when Mason was born that Julie said you can call her or write to her with any questions or concerns. She said she wishes she had someone to confide in and get advice from through her 19 year journey. Her daughter, Mary, is a lovely young lady who attends our youth group and still is in a life skills class at CV High school. We also have another family at Emmanuel with a 25 year old young man with Downs. I'm sure his mother would love to talk to you if you'd like. Just message me on facebook. Sharon D.

  4. Very sweet words of encouragement! Thank you.

  5. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart

  6. Lauren-
    I just want you to know how much your blog blesses me every time I read it. Because if you I have started reading Grace-Based Parenting (can't do the Sunday school at church because I am teaching!), but because if your blog, I ordered it an have been reading it-boy is it ever life changing! It's EXACTLY what I have been looking for in a Biblically-based parenting book. And about this particular post: you have no idea howuch Trevor and I look forward to Mason's hugs when we see him at church. I hope you don't mind...�� he is one awesome little boy whose light shines so brightly-what a blessing. Thank you for your blog-it's wonderful.

  7. I love this so much! Thank you for sharing this wisdom!!!

  8. Mason is adorable! Praying for you all as you raise your 4 kiddos!


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