Wednesday, March 7, 2012

the r word.

five years ago this month, i decided to take a pledge.
it was march 26th, and i had just met this awesome baby boy and my entire life changed.


the word retarded used to be one of my most used words.
i used it to describe everything...from the weather, to something silly that happened to me, to the way someone was behaving.
it didn't mean much to me.
i threw it around without ever giving it a second thought.

then i had a child that was born "retarded".
retarded by definition means slow to learn, delayed.
i read that word on the internet when i was researching what down syndrome was.

yes, it stung like hell.
reading that word next to the definition of down syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that is apparent in every single cell of my son's body, made my face flushed and angry, sad and upset.
my son is not retarded! i pleaded in my mind.
but he is.
in every sense of the true defintion he is.


the problem with the word retarded isn't its webster dictionary defintion.
the problem with the word retarded is what our slang language has defined it to mean.

stupid, dumb, worthless...
my child is not any of these things.
and when i hear someone use that word to describe things, most times they are not speaking about my child directly.
i get that.

but still, others do think that children with disabilites are retarded--and no, that doesn't mean slow or delayed--they mean stupid, dumb, worthless.
and in saying that, they imply that my child is too.

i even hear josh's friends, 10 year old boys, using that word!
and where are they learning that? from us!
i even hear 65 year olds using that word!
come one guys, we are so much better than that!

today i am renewing my pledge to NEVER use that word ever again.
ever.
it is GONE from my vocabulary.
and i sincerly hope that you banish it too.
there are lots of other words you can use in its place...like superstar!, awesome, smart, funny, sweet, energetic, spunky, adorable.
these are much better words to describe my ben boy.

12 comments:

jessica kiehn said...

I am so glad you wrote about this. I HATE when people say this word. It's always been like nails on a chalkboard to me. It's just so insensitive. I always call people out on it, too, because I just don't think people really think about it. Your son is handsome, hilarious, and adorable.

jeana said...

Yes. I'm in the same boat. I don't like the careless use of the word. It's uncalled for...and we no longer use it either. My boys don't seem to know it, but sure there will be friends that do. Thanks for spreading the word!

Laura said...

WELL SAID.

I like spunky....good choice.

Suzette said...

I feel the same way about "gay." Kids use it as a put-down and use it to describe anything distasteful. I have a gay sister-in-law and my own son uses the word (as open-minded and forward thinking as he and we are). It just reminds us all to think before we speak. The only word I think of when I see your Ben Boy is BEAUTIFUL!

meg duerksen said...

i am trying so hard to keep it OUT OF MY HOUSE. it's hard. they hear it everywhere. it's used everywhere. but i am adamant that it may not be used in our home. it's DONE in my house.
i can hear my dad telling me not to say it as a teenager and me just blowing him off. makes me cringe now. so much guilt.

love you amy.

Shannan said...

Thank you for writing this. And for being understanding. I need to not use this word...I am in the same boat...I use it too much and my kids are hearing it everywhere. It will be a good dinner discussion.

Kassondra said...

I am pregnant with my third child. two weeks ago we had our ultrasound and durning the visit my doctor told us our baby has a marker for down syndrome. I brushed it off I guess thinking/hoping if I didn't give it much thought it can't be true. But then I just happened to come across your blog and read this post. I need to face the fact that my child might not come into this world the way I had wanted but she will be perfect no matter what!
http://chachismemories.blogspot.com/

Meredith said...

I am guilty of having used the r word and now that Meg has pointed me to this post, I am going to stop using it. I am going to make sure that boys don't use it either. I may even show my 8 yr old this post so he gets the idea why we are not going to use it. Thanks to all the Moms that write these personal posts that make me better person and a better Mother. God Bless you and your family.

Meredith said...

I am guilty of having used the r word and now that Meg has pointed me to this post, I am going to stop using it. I am going to make sure that boys don't use it either. I may even show my 8 yr old this post so he gets the idea why we are not going to use it. Thanks to all the Moms that write these personal posts that make me better person and a better Mother. God Bless you and your family.

Julie B. said...

I have family members that continue to use that word...it hurts, it stings, down to my core. My son is autistic, but HE IS NOT, dumb, stupid or worthless. He is a light that shines and brings joy to those around him. He stretches, teaches and grounds me...and others who take the time to get to know him. He is truly GIFTED. Banish the "R" word. Please.

Rachel said...

AMEN.

Maria said...

I love this...I agree 100%...the way that word is used drives me crazy..to me it's ignorant. And also...your son is adorable!