Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Words Matter

Today is Spread the Word to End the Word day. Visit http://www.r-word.org/

The Word I am talking about is "retard" or "retarded". I am not sure how to talk about this. I know I should be offended by that word, especially since I have a child with Down Syndrome. And I guess, maybe I am. However, sometimes I think I am in denial. Jack is now 8 months old and I am just starting to see the gap between him and "normal" babies. He has the most wonderful personality and laughter. He picks up objects and plays with them. He rolls over both ways. He plays with his feet and hands, and puts just about everything in his mouth. He will let me read him books and he eats solid food like a champ. He smiles when he sees me and my husband and he loves to babble and interact. But, today, I am plagued the "isn'ts" What I mean are the things he "isn't" doing. He isn't sitting up yet. He doesn't seem to recognize his name and when you say, "where's Mom," or "where's Dad" he doesn't seem to know what that means. Who cares, right? I mean he probably does know those things and just doesn't know how to respond yet. And if he doesn't know now...he will. He WILL get there. He will sit up. He will crawl and walk. He will say Momma and Dada at some point. And I know in the future, when everyone else's kids will be learning new things that Jack will too, but at a slower pace. But somehow, today I see it. I see that gap and it hurts. I want to fill that gap so that no one ever refers to him as "retarded" or "slow". I never want him to feel inadequate, but I admit right now I feel inadequate. I want to see other people's kids sitting up and have the attitude, "great for them, our Jack will get there" and to be honest, most of the time I do. But today, for whatever reason, I am a little jealous. And the fact that I am supposed to campaign against the use of the R-word, brings the reality that my son is different and that some stupid person will most likely use it at some point to describe him. And that hurts my heart and makes me cry. So, I ask you, from the bottom of my heart and soul to watch your speech and to teach your children well. My Jack is not that word. And no other person is that word. That word is typically used as an insult. I will not insult anyone with that word. I will find better, more loving terminology. I ask the same of you. And right now I think of my wonderful, special, sweet sweet Jack. I will protect him with my speech of others as well as my speech of him. I will do what I can, so that when he is inevitably called by that word, that he will know it's falseness. He will know that he is smart and funny and wonderful and perfect the way he is.

My husband and I will make that our quest. Thank you for listening to my ramblings and my heart. And thank you for honoring our son.

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