February 23, 2011


Dear Carter,
In honor of the upcoming "Spread The Word To End The Word" day, I thought that I'd share some of my experiences with the dreaded "R-Word".
I was at a clothing store about a week ago, and there was a clerk who was ringing up a lady at the counter. I was still browsing through the store, but was close enough to hear their conversation, and at one point the clerk said "I'm sorry I'm being so retarded". I felt suddenly sick to my stomach, and just ended up leaving. On another day I might have confronted the clerk, but on this particular day I was already missing you, and thought it was best to leave it alone without becoming a tearful mess.
I know that this clerk wasn't trying to hurt anybody, she was just being ignorant.
Have you ever heard the saying "Ignorance is bliss?" I think that is absolutely true for the person who is being ignorant, but in this case it can be hurtful for those surrounding them. I often wonder how many words I have used that have hurt somebody in that same way. I pray not many.

Whenever I hear the word "retard", or "retarded", I have the same reaction.
I feel sick.
I feel like I need to stand up for you.
I feel like I still need to fight for you.

I HATE that word. I hate it so much that for the rest of this post, I will be only referring to the "R" word. I suspect that the way I feel about the "R" word is quite similar to the way some people feel about the "N" word. It feels disrespectful and disgusting. People with special needs are just that....people, and they deserve to be treated with the same respect as everyone else without being referred to with a terrible name.

I have to be honest here and tell you that I don't even remember thinking much about it before you were born. I can't even remember if I have ever used it. I was completely and utterly ignorant to the power of this one single word, but I promise that I'm not anymore.

Here's the thing about the "R" word.

It hurts.

It doesn't matter what sense it is used in.

It still hurts.
At least it does for this mommy who will keep trying to "Spread The Word To End The Word".


Moosman Fam said...

Well said. I completely agree!

Tina said...

Beautifully put...I sometimes wonder myself if people who use it ever think about what they are saying and how hurtful it can be. Pure ignorance if you ask me and insensitive, in todays "politically correct" world I can' beleive this word continues to be part of peoples vocabularly. But just like you I will continue to spread the word to end the word.

Lacey said...

Its so funny, when I was younger, I used to say it all the time. My next door neighbor, who was like my second mom, had a niece with DS. I never thought about it hurting her. But my neighbor always reminded me not to say it.
Now look where I am, in her same shoes, trying to get other people to stop!