We have been focused on hydrocephalus awareness this month & that topic continues. As my own little man grows up, it becomes more and more, but only sometimes painfully, obvious that he is not like other 4-year old boys. While his smiley face is quite adorable, it rarely goes unnoticed that it is also pasted on to a rather large noggin'... becoming the target of some pretty nasty stares and comments from near and afar.
I've posted in regards to this very topic in the past... sadly, much to no avail and I have come to the conclusion that some individuals simply will never give up on living the ignorance is bliss mentality. However, I will never give up trying to make people think before they speak... especially when it comes to children; my child or any other child should never have to be confronted with such nasty ridicule. When it comes from a close friend or loved one, those words hurt that much worse... and don't think for a second that it never happens, because it, often unintentionally, does.
Dear Friend Who Just Did The (R-word) Impression
But, oh, how I wish you hadn’t just said what you said and did what you did.
Just a little while ago, we were having a great time. We got a babysitter, cleaned up whatever substances the children smeared on us, and took off to remind ourselves that we are still capable of socializing with grownups. At some point, somebody shared an amusing story or point. And that’s when you did it. You made a comment about “not being a retard” and then made a gesture I doubt you seriously considered. You raised your hands and screwed up your face in a parody of a person with a neurological disorder and altered your voice stupidly — doing the classic “retard” impression. (The r-word – for those who prefer not to use it.)
And here’s the thing. I’ve seen you say and do that before. Several times. Times when I didn’t think too hard about it. No, you would never tease an actual person with an intellectual disability like that. But you’ve amused yourself and others many times in small group get-togethers – usually just making a quick joke about something being dumb. But that was long before I gave birth to a sweet, beautiful, seemingly perfect baby boy who, at 3 1/2 years old still isn’t talking, won’t play with others, and takes no joy in toys of any kind. That shook me to my core and altered everything I thought I knew about myself, humanity, unconditional love, and the evolution of personal strength.
So, coming from the perspective of a mother who is very likely someday going to hear someone tease her child cruelly, there is nothing – nothing – funny about that at all.
So, friend, I’m going to ask you to do something for me. I’m going to ask you to try to step outside of your own perspective and natural defensiveness and just trust me on this — this is another one of those Golden Rule kind of things. When speaking of human beings, always go with respect for the dignity of the human soul. That path will never steer you wrong.