Wednesday, March 7, 2012

the R word

Well, I can definitely say that 18 months ago, I would not be writing this post.  I was you, in fact worse than a lot of you, I used the word retarded in daily life without a thought or care of what impact it may be having on those around me.  I like to think of myself as an educated, intelligent person.  I also like to pride myself on not taking things too seriously and understanding that our world has become extremely littered with overly sensitive and overly hyped causes, which to be honest, annoy me.  So, when I found myself thrust into the world of having a child with down syndrome, a child that most of the world views as "retarded" it stung.  All of it.  The realization that my child is viewed less than other children, maybe not as cute, maybe not as strong, not as smart for sure, and therefor not as valuable.  I also had a flip side, I am careless with my speech, abrasive, over the top, inappropriate a lot of times, swear like a sailor, so all of a sudden I am one of "those" people that is "sensitive"....eww, I didn't like it.  I cringed when I heard a woman say it as I made an appointment in reference to her computer being so "retarded", I swallowed and sat silent as the ultrasound tech said she couldn't figure out the machine she was running because she was a "retard".  I had to let it digest for a bit.  Sit heavy on my heart and figure out what it all meant.

Why did it hurt really?  Was I being too sensitive?  I mean my boy is just a baby right now, maybe later I will have more "reason" to stick up and say something.  I don't want to pin point others bad behaviors, when for so long I was the culprit.  I was the assailant.  Not just for retard, but for, "that's so GAY!"  or "OMG I have had the worst day, I want to blow my brains out."  How about, "I'm a Nazi mom!"  There are so many I could go on, thoughtlessly I threw out words, thinking people got what I meant, I mean come on?  Don't be so sensitive.  Easy to say from the stand point of a privileged, non-tragic life.  Easy to say when your family member hasn't "blown their brains out".  Or someone close to you is gay, or grandparents survived Auschwitz.  How ignorant and truly annoying.  Because words do hurt, more than most anything.  It's words that start wars, gossip that carries through dangerous acts of hatred and betrayal.  Words that take lives of children being bullied.  Words that make us all at some point in our life, feel less than.  So, I want you to take a moment and remember when someone said something to you that stung, that hurt you to your core.  I know each of us have had that moment, maybe when your heart was broken for the first time, maybe verbal abuse, maybe your own parent thinking less of you.  Whatever the circumstance, think of that pain those words caused you, how they stayed with you and haunted you for perhaps years to come.  How easily you can pull them up in your memory when asked, think of this and realize the power we all have.  To create a better, more positive world for all of our babies, a world that we pause and find a different way to say something, because isn't that the least we can do?  

In saying this, I have created a wonderful, but not exhaustive list of words to replace, "retard", please reference this list, and pick a favorite, use as often as you feel necessary, not towards others of course and feel better that in just doing that, you have helped my boy know that he is valued and treasured and not less than!


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