Friday, July 8, 2011

That Was Then, This is Now...

Somedays I let things get to me more than other days. Yesterday was one of those days. A friend I really like posted a joke on her Facebook wall. It was a joke involving a helmet and crayons - and it got a lot of laughs. From everyone except me.

I will be the first to admit - I have been guilty of using the word "retarded" in the past. "That's retarded." "You're so retarded." I also have been guilty of using the expression "Riding the short bus." in the past as well. I thought very little of those kinds of jokes then. But that was then.

This is now.

I'm not looking to change the world. I'm not looking to change you. I'm not mad if jokes like that slip out of your mouth. It has become so much the "norm" that I realize it's hard to change. I also know that it's impossible to protect my children from hearing jokes and put downs. Trust me - I really know this.

But I would just ask you to consider the following and file it in the back of your mind. Next time you hear yourself make a joke that is obviously about developmental disabilities and is meant to be insulting, ask yourself these questions:

Would you make that same joke in front of this Mom?
A Mom who has waited for this child her whole life? This Mom who wants to cry when she hears people make jokes at the expense of her son's difficult life? A Mom who, when she hears or reads a joke that's offensive feels like she's a failure for not "fixing" her son in society's eyes? A Mom who is well aware that that "short bus" may be in her son's future. That a "helmet" could be too...who knows? That her son may be diagnosed as "retarded" down the road...it's possible. You have to know that for me, it's personal.

Would you use that same word or joke about a short bus or tell a friend they need a helmet in front of Gavin? Imagine his eyes looking into yours.
We always go with the assumption that Gavin understands everything...he just can't communicate that to us. Would you want to hurt his feelings? This child who shouldn't have accomplished half - or more - of what he's accomplished. This child who continues to defy all the odds. This child who works...SO hard...for everything. This child who is filled with pride when he does things on his own. You could easily set his progress back by making him feel "less than"...or the butt of a joke. If you compare Gavin to anyone - it shouldn't be as an insult or a joke. Even if you don't mean it that way. If you compare Gavin to anyone - they should be flattered.

Highly flattered.

Would you joke about retards or kids who drool a little or otherwise disabled children in front of Brian? Would you want to contribute to what will already be a tough road for him - feeling the need to defend his big brother? Can you imagine turning around after your joke and seeing this face looking at you?
Would you want to hurt his feelings like that?

I really am not trying to preach. And I'm not angry. And, like I said, I have been guilty of saying stupid things like I just described. But that was then.

This is now.

Now I have Gavin. And now, it's personal. I hope that you...you who have grown attached to Gavin...will keep him in your mind before you make a joke. It would mean a lot to our family.


6 comments:

  1. I completely get where your coming from. I used to make jokes like that without giving it a second thought. It was just something I had learned growing up. "if mommy says it, it must be ok" type of thing. Then my cousin and goddaughter was diagnosed with RSTS. She does things she was never supposed to do. And she works hard to achieve things. And so does Gavin! Even though these kids are "different", they are amazing and we need to learn from them, rather than mock them. They can teach us a lot, especially about what's really important in life.

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  2. Well said, Kate. Words can be so hurtful. I feel as though anyone who uses hate speech such as you have mentioned should be ashamed of themselves. I have always found that type of of language to be very offensive. No one knows what life has in store for us or our children or our grandchildren for that matter! I often think of my mother in law and how she used to talk about Hispanic people. It would sound so ignorant to me...the funny part of it all is that my sister in law will be marrying a man who is 100% puerto rican. Her grandchildren will be half Hispanic! I don't hear many bigoted things come out of her mouth these days...lol!

    Great post and btw I would de friend that jerk who made a joke like that. How ignorant.

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  3. You are awesome. Great post. I wish people weren't so mean. Seriously, why why why do we need to make fun of people at all? Gorgeous pics of your boys and you too.

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  4. I NEVER EVER make jokes like that because I know how much IT HURTS when people stare at you when they think you are not watching you wonder to yourself is there something between my teeth and then you remember that you're in a wheelchair.

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  5. That was beautifully put. Gavin and Brian are so lucky to have the two of you as parents! :)

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  6. Yes Kate, you were preaching. But you know what? Sometimes a little preaching is exactly what we all need to hear! :)
    For what it's worth, through this beautiful blog, I have come to love your little family and pray for Gavin almost daily. I truly believe that for every idiotic comment, rude stare or disgusting joke you are subjected to, there are probably 100 prayers whispered for Gavin's healing by folks you've never met.
    Have a great weekend, Mama bear!

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