By Esther Kleyman
Visiting Day at Camp Chayolei Hamelech in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania. We are sharing our last goodbyes, getting ready for a five-and-a-half ride back home. Sweet-hearted Dovid, with sincerity and love only the special souls with Down syndrome possess, exclaims to my husband (who he met about 10 minutes earlier) while giving him one last hug of the night, “I love you! You made my day!”
He proceeds to hug everyone around, with a loving smile and “I love you” to go with it.
It is no secret that parenting is a super hard 24/7 job and there is no doubt being a parent of a Down syndrome child is harder yet. There are so many medical and developmental challenges to overcome, so much more patience and advocacy needed, so many additional sacrifices made. I could not imagine an expecting mother to ever longingly tell someone “I wish my baby is born with a Down syndrome.”
Why am I writing about Dovid and parenting a child with Down syndrome after coming back from visiting my, thank G-d, healthy children having an awesome time in camp?
I am full of gratitude that my sons have an opportunity to get the many of Dovid’s “I love you”s and hugs during the course of their day at camp. I am grateful to see them tenderly asking Dovid about how his day’s going. I am humbled by the seemly endless source of love Dovid has for anyone who shows kindness to him. I am grateful to Dovid’s parents for sending him to Chayolei so my sons can learn from his loving ways! I am grateful to Chayolei for having the bunk of boys just like Dovid, who are special in so many ways.
They define Down syndrome as a condition where individuals have 47 chromosomes in each cell instead of 46. The 47th chromosome must me the chromosome of heavenly love and I am so grateful to the One Above for blessing us with the opportunities like we had Sunday, spending a few precious moments with Dovid, a camper who is the Love Chromosome Guardian.