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DEAR ABBY: My daughter has Down syndrome. While I was still grieving over this fact, the kindest people were the ones who commented on her beautiful eyes. I didn't know if they knew she had Down's, and I didn't care. She has beautiful eyes, and I was grateful for the compliment.

Now when we go out in public, we are often approached by people who just have to show us how smart they are because they recognize Down syndrome. This is not a kindness! Don't tell me my daughter's wonderful personality is because "they" are "all so sweet." My daughter is a wonderful individual, not part of the great "they." She is also not deaf!

If people want to be kind, they should be kind. But don't tell us about their experiences with individuals who have Down syndrome. I don't tell them my experiences with insensitive jerks.

Abby, if you could print this, and if some people become aware of the hurt they cause, my daughter, other people with disabilities and I might all have less trouble navigating the stream of well-meaning, but hurtful, people. Thank you. -- HURT IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR HURT: You have said it very well. Thank you for a great letter.

DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing a terrific woman for about a year. She's a musician, divorced and the mother of three. We're dance partners. She and I have had an up-and-down relationship, with occasional breakups over our age difference. I am 29 and she is 15 years older. She wants me to get to know her family. I want the freedom to see other women.

Each time we have gotten back together, it has been because I want to dance only with her. However, one thing usually leads to another, and after a month of dancing, we are lovers again. She's taught me more about love and life than all the women I had dated before put together.

She's after me again to spend some time with her children. This is one of the issues that led us to break up before. After our last breakup, I have never come to grips with the age and lifestyle difference.

Abby, the bond I feel with her is very strong, but I feel that a more traditional relationship with another woman would be better for me in the long run. We can never have a family of our own, and although I don't want one right now, it still bothers me.

Am I right to continue exploring this relationship knowing that there may be someone younger out there for me? -- DOING THE TEXAS TWO-STEP

DEAR DOING THE TWO-STEP: Since you do not see a future with this woman, do her a favor and level with her. Feeling as you do, it's time to change partners and move on before you waste any more of her time -- or yours.

DEAR ABBY: I, too, am of the old-fashioned mind-set when it comes to manners. However, it is not easy to remain so.

Just the other day I opened a door for a woman about to enter. With a caustic look, she remarked, "Are you opening the door just because I'm a woman?" Taken somewhat aback, I was compelled to say, "No -- it was because of your age!" She didn't say another word. -- STILL OPENING DOORS, 29 PALMS, CALIF.

DEAR STILL OPENING DOORS: Funny -- but naughty. I hope you don't leave ALL women speechless.

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