DEAR ABBY: We have three grandchildren and are due to make our annual visit. Two of the children are easy to plan for, and we have good relationships with them. The third is a 12-year-old boy with Down syndrome, and we struggle with how to deal with him -- what to do and what to buy him. Any ideas? -- UNSURE IN THE SOUTH
DEAR UNSURE: The most important thing you can bring with you on your visit is a heart filled with love, and the determination that your grandson will know you love him. Spending one-on-one time together would make him feel special. Every child needs validation and affection on their journey toward adulthood. With the self-confidence it brings, Down syndrome children can live full and happy lives.
The questions you're asking me are ones your grandson's parents can answer for you. What he could use and various activities you can share should be easy questions for them to answer.
I have printed a wonderful poem on this subject in my column before. It was written by Edna Massimilla, and I think it is timely. Edna is 102 now and still as energetic and "with it" as ever. Read on:
HEAVEN'S VERY SPECIAL CHILD
A meeting was held so far from Earth.
It was the time for another birth.
The Angels said to the Lord above --
"This special child will need much love.
"For progress may be very slow,
"Accomplishment may never show.
"This special child will need much care
"From the people way down there.
"This child may not talk, run or play,
"And thoughts may seem so far away.
"In many ways will not try to adapt
"Known as 'disabled' and 'handicapped.'
"Please be careful where this one is sent.
"We want this child to be so content.
"O please, Lord, find the parents who
"Will do a very special job for You.
"They will not realize right away
"The leading role that they have to play.
"But with this child sent from above
"Comes stronger faith, and richer love.
"Soon they'll know the privilege given
"In caring for their gift from Heaven.
"Their precious child, so meek and mild
"Is Heaven's very special child."