When Adults Use The R-Word

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I’ve loved reading Notes From The Trenches for a year or so now. Chris is a strong, funny and smart Mama.

No, she doesn’t have a medically fragile child with special needs. But she has a household of kids that remind me a lot of Parker’s brothers and sisters. And she parents kinda like I do. I enjoyed being able to relate to how she thought.

She takes incredible pictures of her gorgeous kids and shares her life from the football, baseball, and until recently, homeschooling bleachers.

She’s a great writer.

Today I read a post where Chris told of bringing the wrong kid to football practice. She brought her 8 year old son when the practice was actually for her 10 year old son.

This is the kind of experience I’m sure any parent of a kid who plays sports could find the humor in. (Cause they’ve done it themselves, and now find it funny after the fact)

But then I read this sentence:

“So I walk over to him (the coach). And I ask, in a tone that implies it is the most ridiculous question ever;

“Do we have practice tonight?”

He (the coach) looks at me as if I am retarded because what other earthly reason would I have for being at the football field except to be at practice.”

It was as though those words jumped from my screen and punched me in the stomach. I had to stop and catch my breath.

And not because the use of the word retarded as a synonym for idiot, stupid, and all things ridiculously dumb is something that I’ve never read or heard before.

Actually, to be honest, I’m not sure why this struck me the way it did.

But did. it. ever.

Notes From The Trenches is also a blog with a lot of readers. A huge following. The blog of a Mom who has ties with BlogHer and is a regular contributor on BackTalk. BOTH are venues with amazing potential to advocate for people with special needs.

Now, the bottom line is that Chris can write anything on her blog that she wants. And she never once asked me to think highly of her. Or even read her blog for that matter. Hell, she doesn’t even know Parker and I exist.

And I know when that sentence was written it wasn’t written as a way of deliberately hurting Parker or anyone else dealing with a disability.

So any feelings I experience fall under my ownership and nobody else’s.

I get that.

But I hope that people get that using the word retarded in a negative way is hurtful.

Even if it isn’t intentional. Or you were just trying to be funny. Or you didn’t mean it in that way.

This mindset is damaging.

If you don’t believe me, I invite you to read this: Sticks and Stones.

Read it all the way through.

Then go back and read it again

Because I think that a child with special needs has enough challenges facing them. They shouldn’t have to (as in Parker’s case) FIGHT to grow up, only to discover themselves in a world that finds it perfectly acceptable in making them it’s go-to when trying to describe anything negative, embarrassing or just plain stupid.

But, then again, maybe that’s just me.


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