A teacher's at the copier, in a hurry. She is trying her best but time is not on her side. She is rushed because how could she have forgotten about Veteran's day. Embarrassed as another teacher looks on, she quickly says "I know it looks retarded, but I had to have something for my kids to do."
I over hear this comment and that growing knot in my stomach grows, my hands clinch, and I feel anger burn deeply in my soul. I HATE that word. I repeat to myself, over and over, do you even know what you are saying? I start to contiplate in my mind if I should politely go and correct what she said. After all, I realize she was to being harmful, I understand what she was saying. But if another student walks by and hears, does that validate for that student that it's ok to use that word?
I pause for a second. Lydia's sweet face appears in my head. She is not ugly or unfit. Her beautiful almond eyes twinkle with joy, her ever so larger bridge of heroes hold her beautiful purple glasses just so. She tongue quickly pops out of her cute mouth to make you smile. Her blonde hair curls gently at the end of her fine hair. Her smile captures your heart and you are hooked. She beautiful.
Thank you to the teacher in the copier room that reminded me exactly how beautiful my child is. That rushed book that'd you were putting together was not retrarded at all. That boom did not have a delay and was not held back in progress, development, or accomplishment (Websters definition of retard). That book may have been sloppy or not what you intended, but then again I am sure that you did not intend to use the word retard.
Thank you because you reminded me that I don't need to get angry with that word. While retard may be the diagnosis of my child, it certainly does not describe her. Actually, you allowed me to be reminded again of how beautiful my daughter is. Retard cannot describe something ugly or rushed, something unintended. It simply means delayed.
To the kid in the hallway who looked at his friend and said that was retarded. Your friend was acting inappropriately. He was not delayed or being held back in his process, he was just making bad choices. I am sure you did not mean to slow him down or set him back.
However, you reminded me just how proud I am of Lydia. You reminded me that she often makes good decisions. You reminded me that she is kind to most people. You reminded me how much fun she is to be around. You also reminded me, even though she is a retard (she is slow and has developmental delays) she does not act like you or your friend. She is not obnoxious and she does have respect for others.
I am sure you did not mean to use the word retard. I am sure that you would have liked to use a word that would better explain how your friend was acting. Maybe he was obnoxious or rude or disrespectful. Our words are very important and I am sure if you would understood what you were saying, you would have chose a word that more accurately described your friend.
See when we understand the words we use and how to use them, we don't tend to offend as many people. Even the word dumb means a person that is unable to speak (the North American meaning is unintelligent). I get that these days we often use the North American definition of that word. But it is important to really educate yourself and know what you are saying.
Not only have these people reminded me that the "common day" use of retard does not define my daughter. The Webster's definition of retard tells you something about her, she is slow or delayed; but agai does not define her. I realize that sometimes the word retard is used in a very offensive way, but usually it is not.
And that word retard does not always have to make my blood boil when it is used. It can remind me of all of the great things Lydia is. It can remind me that she does not live up to the stereotypes of that word. It reminds me how capable she is. It reminds me how when I expose her to others, they are learning. She breaks down stereotypes because she shows people how very capable she is.
I am not promoting use of the word by any means, but I am trying to take one of those situations that adds unnecessary stress to me, into a positive. I don't have to explain her to anyone and I don't have to worry about everyone liking her. And usually when someone else is using that word it is not to describe my child, it is usually just a poor choice in words.
Thank you though for using that word, for making my blood boil, and for showing me that it doesn't have to ruin my day. That word can be a reminder to me of how wonderful she is!