Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 16: She Said What?!

My husband recently was with Lucas and my mother-in-law at her long-time neighbor and friend's house. The neighbor is a lovely woman, with a great sense of humor and not a mean bone in her body -- although Betty* is nearly 70 years older than Lucas, they happen to share the same birthday.

She hadn't seen Lucas in some time and was commenting on how big he's getting and out of nowhere she added, "he doesn't have much of that retarded look." According to Tom, his Mom was stunned and they were both at a loss for words. We know she didn't mean any harm, and honestly, she just doesn't know any better. As I mentioned to Tom, Betty is from a generation where its acceptable and common place to call people with Down syndrome "monogloids."

It's at times like these that we as parents realize how far we've come, but how far we still have to go. Tom made a decision in that instance to not try to teach an old dog new tricks, but instead to reserve and focus his energies on educating those coming up in the world and those who raise them. Words matter and they can hurt...and ultimately, every one of us has a choice to make in the language we use and who we choose to be in the world.

*Name changed to protect her innocence.

1 comment:

Mrs. K said...

My grandpa was Pearl Harbor survivor & received medals for his herorics after being straffed by Japanese pilots on the airfield. The first time I introduced Christian to him, they had a great talk. Later that day, I asked my grandpa what he thought of Christian & he said "he ain't too bad for a Jap." I loved that he was so honest about it. It's totally generational & for him (he didn't like Asians much after returning from Pearl Harbo... and w/good reason) situational. But I didn't try to correct him or tell him he shouldn't say things like that. Christian & I laugh about it to this day. Old people went thru life differently than us & we should be very thankful for that!