What do you see when you see Parker? Last week, during a quick run in to Target, I overheard what a few women thought when they saw my son. Look! one woman exclaimed as Parker and I rolled our cart by. It’s a ret*rd! I’ll admit, it took a minute for that comment to reach the part of my brain that recognized this woman was talking about my son. When it did, I paused. Slowly backing our cart up, I looked the source of that comment, along with her snickering posse, and looking at this woman straight in the eye, politely informed her that I loved this little boy with Down syndrome and would be forever thankful to have him in my life. I then informed her that it was the a*sholes like her and her buddies the world needed less of. Suddenly they didn’t think they were so cool and funny.
What can I say. That’s how I deal with deliberate meanness at the expense of my child with special needs.
Because Parker rarely goes into public places like Target in my vigilance in trying to keep this kid out of the hospital, I don’t often run into this kind of meanness. I usually find meanness in the form of comments on this blog made by someone hiding behind a fake email account telling me what a lousy parent I am to my Brave Hero. It’s actually one of the reasons I quit blogging. Then I remembered that this blog comes with a delete button especially made for people like that. Problem solved.
I was a little hesitant to tell Reed about the Target situation and how I handled it. Reed is much more reserved than I am. I know he cringes sometimes at my impatience with crazy. He’s much more diplomatic. Me? I don’t spend much time caring about what some people may think of me. It makes life so much easier.
To my pleasant surprise, my eternal companion was 100% on board with my response. He was glad I took a stand against the deliberate meanness at the expense of my child with special needs. I honestly believe, had he been the one rolling Parker around that day in Target, he would have handled things much the same way I did. Except perhaps without the cuss word. Like I said, he’s more diplomatic than I.
I’ve been thinking about how others might have handled things that day. Would you have simply ignored the comment, choosing not to dignify it with a response? Maybe tried to make it a teaching moment? Shared one of my favorite sites about spreading the word to end the r-word?
I’m open to honest questions and desires to learn more about what it is like to parent a child with special needs. It’s one reason I’m back to blogging.
But call my kid a ret*rd, and all bets are off, baby.