So with World Down Syndrome day coming up this week (it’s on 3/21… as in 3 copies of the 21st Chromosome… get it?! clever!) I’ve been doing some thinking on what to blog, and I keep thinking of things at around midnight and by the next morning I’ve forgotten. I obviously want to write something WDSD related, but I’m drawing a total blank. However, what has been on my mind lately is just one word: The R-Word.
It’s one of those words we are all guilty of using sometimes. It slips out. Something bothers us, and we say, “That’s retarded.” But what does it really mean? Basically, it means “stupid.” It means developmentally delayed. It means slow. But it’s not just an innocent word. It’s used as a put-down. It’s used to make fun of people with developmental delays. And one day, my biggest fear is, it’s going to be used to make fun of Thatcher.
Let’s face it, chances are that Thatcher is going to have a lower-than-average IQ. And that’s fine. I can already tell he’s a sharp cookie, and with assistance, he will do great things. He will learn and grow and be someone phenomenal. But he might need some extra help to get there. And while times are changing, I fully remember how kids in the “special” class at my school got treated. Some of them were well known and liked, but mainly because people found them funny and laughed half with them, half against them. It’s possible that at times, I laughed at them too. And why? Because they were different? Because they needed some extra help? Haven’t we all needed a hand once in a while? None of us are experts at everything. None of us are “normal,” we are all different from each other. Why are some differences good and some bad?
But I digress. I’m getting off my topic. The fact is, you can argue that the R-word is just a word, but it’s a word that hurts. It’s a word that I’m terrified of. That I have stricken from my vocabulary and sworn not to use. It’s a word that, in fact, I pledged to eradicate from my life. I tried to “Spread the Word to End the Word” on Facebook. And nothing happened. Not a thing. I posted photos and links about ending the use of the R-word, and not a damn person commented. Nobody “liked” it, nobody asked me about it. Nothing. I think it’s that they don’t get the importance of it. They think it’s just a word.
A lot of people have supported my blog, have given me a “Amen, sister!” or have helped me spread the word about #OperationEllenMeetPip for my new friend Tara at Happy Soul Project, or shared the video of her feature on Global News/Thatcher’s TV debut. Heck, I’ve gotten nearly 100 “likes” on my new profile pic on Facebook about how “Love doesn’t count chromosomes.” But my stance on the R-word? Completely ignored.
I think people don’t understand how it feels. How terrified I am of that one little word. How much it hurts. Thatcher is going to be so many things. He is going to be smart, strong, handsome, and good. He is going to change the world. He is going to be different, yes. But different is wonderful. Different is not bad, or dirty, or negative, or gross. Different is a great way to see the world. And different is most certainly NOT retarded. So please, take the pledge and strike from your vocabulary the word that is bad, dirty, negative, AND gross. So that it can become obsolete and never be used for the amazing, beautiful boy who lights up my world.