We are free to express ourselves (in accordance with the law), just about any way that we choose to. I do not enjoy hearing the “R” word: “retard” and “retarded.”
And I will tell you why.
Sticks and stones have never broken my bones but words have been known to hurt me. I am a bit of a sensitive soul. I can be brought to tears through a musical montage, an old photo or a beer commercial depending on the time of the month
While this is my truth, it is also true that I love a good laugh… even at my own expense. I can take a joke, take a jab and dole out burns like the wrong end of the marshmallow stick. I don’t usually get offended and am careful to not offend. I have, however, been at both ends of this sword and they both slice deeply. Before Pax, I rarely used the word r*tard or r*tarded (insert severe shudder here) and if I did, it always felt wrong. Side bar: I once almost got into a knock down catfight over a girl calling a girl with disabilities “a r*tard.” I most certainly never used that word to describe someone with disabilities and I am pretty sure most of you haven’t either
I used to say “that’s so gay.” One time, my friend, who is a lesbian, was next to me and she was openly offended. I was sincerely baffled when I uttered “don’t take it personally, I didn’t mean it like that. I love everyone, I’m just using it to mean stupid.” She told me I was putting my foot even further into my mouth. She was right. I am embarrassed. I am sorry dear friend. I get it
So. How can I help you get it? I know you don’t mean anything negative about my son when the word slips from your lips. I am not mad at you, but hearing it destroys me. Maybe because children like Paxton used to be addressed in a derogatory manner with that word. To think of it happening to him wrecks my being. Maybe it’s because the word is ugly or because I look at Paxton and see a sweet, beautiful, mischievous boy
Am I too sensitive? Scared of stigma? Maybe it’s residual pain left over from all the what-ifs that were built around Paxton’s birth.That word crushes me. It is my kryptonite.In fact, every parent I have met in the world of disability crumbles👇🏼 Rest