Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lessons from Joey

This will likely be a 106-part post, with new installments regularly as long as Joey is a part of my life. I keep saying how much he has taught me in two shorts years, and that I am a different (and better,I hope) person for it. So here is installment number one.

"Retard" - A pretty common word, used often as slang to describe others or oneself when they feel that person is acting slow, or not understanding something they should. "Retarded" - A way of describing something that doesn't make sense, that's wrong, silly, backwards. If you have never used those words I congratulate you for being a very sensitive person. As ashamed as I am to admit it, those words used to dominate my slang vocabulary, going all the way back to grade school. It may be a generational thing, like "groovy" was a common word in the sixties. Never once did anyone call me out for the use of those words, no one ever said "hey, I find that hurtful" or "my cousin is developmentally delayed, that's mean". Not once. Not that I consider that an excuse. Not having anyone in my family or circle of friends that experinced and type of disability I was immune to how hateful that word is.

Since having Joey, that word stings. I rarely say anything because I was one of the worst offenders a few years back, and I feel like a hypocrite saying anything now. I can't describe how it makes me feel to hear it used inappropriately, but this amazing 18-year-old high school student can articulate it beautifully for me:

The most amazing point he makes is this: We don't use racially or religiously derogatory terms, and these are groups of people capable of defending themselves, and therefore have fought long and hard to have eradicated the common and acceptable use of some of the most hateful words in existance. However, the jokes and derogatory comments towards the disabled are not looked upon the same way, they are not as unacceptable, and sadly this is the one group of people that cannot defend themselves.

So we'll just add this to the growing list of things Joey has taught me...the word "retard" as slang no longer exists in my vocabulary. I am trying to become more sensitive to other terms, assumptions and generalizations that other groups of people may find hurtful, because I would never want to purposely make someone feel the way I do whenever I hear the word retard.

So there's my thought for the day :)

On a completely different topic, Joey was weighed on Monday and gained a whole pound plus an ounce! Mealtimes have definitely reverted back to the old days of pudding, yogurt and PediaSure from a bottle, but I'm becoming more and more okay with it. He's shown repeatedly that when he's hungry, he'll eat. He's energentic and growing, so we just need to relax and go with the flow.

That's all for now! To all you mothers out there have a wonderful Mother's Day tomorrow!

P, J & J


J said...

Hi - it is so good to see you back. I could have written this post myself and have been feeling the EXACT same. I used to use that word all the time with no concept og how hurtful it is. It was a constant in grade school - everyone said it. Would you mind if I copied part of your post as a guest post on mt blog? LMK...I'm headed back to read up on Joey!

Pamela, Jason and Joey said...

Absolutely, copy away :)

GP Whittaker said...

Your honesty in this posting is inspiring.