End The R Word - For My Girls

Last week Lila and I were having a 
Mommy/Daughter afternoon out.  
We were in Target when I heard this:   
"Dude, knock it off!  You are such a retard!"   
And before I could stop myself 
I walked around the corner to 
the next aisle where I saw 3 teenage boys.  
I looked at them and said, "Excuse me".   
They looked over at us.  
I nodded my head toward Lila 
who was in the cart playing with her Mobigo 
completely unaware that anything was going on and said, 
"Please don't say that word.   
It hurts."

The three of them looked at Lila
then looked back at me and 
one by one
 they apologized.   

Mission accomplished.  
I wasn't rude to them.
 I didn't belittle them.
 I simply asked a favor. 
  "Please don't say that word."

The next time those boys think about 
using the word "retard"
I hope they think about a little blonde girl 
with pretty blue eyes.  
I hope they remember the words her mama said.  
And I hope they think of another word
 to use in its place.  


I'm not an argument waiting for a place to happen. 
 I don't walk around with a chip on my shoulder.  
 I'm not easily offended.   
I definitely don't think this is the 
most important battle I will fight on behalf of 
people with disabilities.  

I'm just a mom of two beautiful little girls 
that I love more than words can express. 
Right now my girls aren't even aware of the word.   

That will soon change.

More than likely they will hear this word
being directed toward them more than once
in the course of their lifetime.
It will hurt them.
I won't be able to protect them from being ridiculed
for something that is completely 
out of their control
and that tears me up inside. 


***
Retarded is a word I used to say quite frequently.  
my car was retarded
 my hair was retarded
 my makeup was retarded
 my boss was retarded.
I used the word without thinking
about what it really meant.
I used it without thinking about
how it would affect someone with cognitive delays
if they heard me say it.

Then I had this precious little girl 
and part of her medical diagnosis of Down Syndrome 
was described as the most frequent 
genetic cause of mild to moderate mental retardation.  
And something inside me changed.   
I stopped saying the word.  
I started hearing the word differently.
All of a sudden the flippant use 
of the word "retarded" 
 made me sad.  

I realize that people don't mean anything personal 
when they say the word retarded.
 I realize they are not directly talking about my girls.  

I don't think the word will ever disappear 
I don't think I will be able to 
convince everyone I meet
to stop using the word.

But I hope it makes you think
of my girls when you think 
of saying the word
retarded.

*** 

Retarded means slow.  
Some thoughts running through my head are
slow to complain
 slow to judge others
 slow to be negative
 slow to hold grudges


What about quick?  
quick to laugh 
quick to hug 
quick to forgive 
quick to love
 quick to be loyal
 quick to be kind
 quick to be honest
 quick to be grateful
 quick to be generous
 quick to be cheerful
 quick to never give up


 
 For the sake of my girls, I'm asking a favor.
Please don't use the word retarded.  
It hurts.

The new "R" word is Respect.  

Please show respect for my girls 
and take the other "R" word 
out of your vocabulary.

Thanks to Tiffani for this picture!

15 comments:

  1. Well said and shared from a lovely perspective rather than an angry one.

    Good job.

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  2. I love this and would like to share it. Your girls are beautiful and are blessed to have a mommy like you.

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    1. Please feel free to share this! Thank you so much!

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    2. I don't know why sometimes, blogger doesn't let me comment in the regualr format, so I will just have to go this route ..

      Beautiful post. Honest and real. Lessons woven in every little paragraph.

      I never hesitate to step in and educate and advocate when I hear the word used. I do it in a kind and non-judgmental manner. Sometimes I meet resistance and find people making excises or justifying their use of it, but no matter. I will, we will, just keep moving forward. Showing people the way, guiding by these beautiful children of ours.

      The picture are gorgeous. Your girls such a blessing.

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  3. I shared :). I love this. It is exactly what I would want to say about the two little girls in my own house. Thank you for what you are doing for all people with Ds in sharing your thoughts in such a clear and compassionate way :).

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  4. Love love love this post. What an amazing mama these girlies have! Miss you guys!

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  5. Love this and love those girls!!!

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  6. Maybe the boys will even take it one step further and request others not to say it...might be a stretch, but you never know!

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  7. This was beautifully written. Actually brought tears to my eyes. I learned that lesson, myself, when I was about 9 and my Mom started dating a man who had a daughter was severely mentally retarded. She was part of our family, and it began to feel like a personal insult anytime someone would jokingly use the word. I'm now 36 and though Bonnie is no longer in my life, it's a lesson I carry to this day. Thank you for teaching it so well.

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  8. beautiful...I had the same revelation when I started working with mentally disabled adults in Chicago...it also brought to light calling things "gay"...but your post explains the way I feel about it all exactly...they are lucky to have you in their lives...showing them they are the most precious treasures on this earth

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  9. Thanks I am guilty of using this word. I am sorry. I hope I never hurt a mother and child before. I am sorry ( i have tears in my eyes) . Your kids are so pretty and that you for making a point with out blowing up. Not sure if the shoe was on the other foot if I would be able to the same.
    Laura

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  10. Simply and perfectly said!

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  11. Rock on, Mama! a beautifully, perfectly written post

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