Monday, January 24, 2011

THAT stupid word !!!

Yesterday I did something I don't normally do to kids I don't know. I embarrassed them. I REALLY embarrassed them! I didn't feel too badly about it either... well, maybe just a little. It's not their fault they are uneducated. So here I am educating... ha!

I was sitting in the waiting area of the community center watching the football game while Twin Sis and her buddies were off playing basketball. I was astounded at the number of people that just dumped their kids off and left. I was also horrified by the number of people who were not paying any attention to their toddlers as they were yapping with their other adult friends. I saw one child that was probably a two year old walk out the front door while his mom was chatting away with some other nitwit... She didn't even notice, it was only fifteen degrees and nine inches of snow outside, no big deal for a two year old... come on people!

As you can tell, I don't have much tolerance for stupidity or lack of common sense. That's why I felt a tinge of guilt for the kids I embarrassed yesterday, they probably had parents like these. They just didn't know better.

Anyhow, I was sitting in this little - very little - common area waiting for Twin Sis and the girls to finish up their big game. For the biggest part of the time, I was in there by myself, which was nice, but soon here came a group of 5 or 6 young teenagers. They were probably junior high school students; old enough to notice the old lady sitting in the middle of the room!

They had obviously been sent to the community center by their parents for the day to get them out of the house. Now, I am certain my kids are not little angels, but I am also positive that if a lady they didn't know was sitting in a tiny little room with them, where she could hear every word they said, my kids and their friends would be fairly selective in not only their topics of discussion, but their language as well. (Score at least one for Mom!!) About those kids whose company I was forced to enjoy at the community center? WOW, could their parents could use a good bar of Ivory!

Something about this lovely encounter was very surprising to me... And it is not often that I surprise myself!! I found that their vulgar sexual comments, and horribly foul language, and terrible talk of school, classmates and parents didn't really offend me. I just sat there, occasionally glancing their way to check their ages, took it all in, and kept thinking "Where did they learn this stuff?" and, even more, "Please, oh please, don't ever let Twin Sis or her friends sound like this!"

I was very angry, though, while listening to their conversation. As I sat there for about forty-five minutes, those kids used the word "retarded" thirteen times. I didn't say anything, I just fumed. They called each other retarded. They called other people who weren't there retarded. They called classes they disliked retarded. One of the kids apparently had a retarded phone. Really???

I sat there and listened. I am oversensitive to the use of the R word. Absolutely! I know I am. I am supposed to be though. That's part of my family's world. That's one of the descriptions of my Mom job!

When I left that room, I asked those kids if they would stop using the word retarded. Only one of them looked up at me, so I repeated myself. The girl that looked up didn't know what to do. "Hey you guys, don't say retarded anymore," she told them. Big eyes, not sure what to do. Who could blame her? "Crazy lady talking, come on guys, help me!" None of them did. (She really needs some new friends, I wanted to tell her.) I went on and said that I have a mentally retarded son. Her eyes got bigger. I told them all that I would appreciate it if the next time they thought about using the word retarded, they would think about what the real meaning of the word was, then see if the meaning fit how they were going to use it.

I am not sure if I did any good or not. I believe Big Eyed Girl might think twice next time she calls a cell phone retarded. She was pretty taken aback when I told her I had a mentally retarded son. I hope she gives it some thought, I also hope she tells the next person that says the word retarded to her the story about that crazy lady at the community center. Maybe I made her think. I am not sure about the rest of that group. But, I guess every thing happens with baby steps.

For those of you that haven't, go to the link at the end of this post and take the pledge to end the R-Word. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that a cell phone can't be retarded. It doesn't take a nuclear physicist to realize that if someone calls a cell phone retarded, it means they don't like it.

The word retarded does have a medical definition, but like so many words in the English language, it has changed over time. It has now become an over used adjective with a very negative connotation to it.

While Alex fits the medical definition of retarded, there is nothing about him that fits the newer adjective that so many are using. Everything about my Alex is good! Well, for the purpose of this story anyway. So lets get rid of it! It hurts to hear it!


Angie Grantman said...

I was just randomly cruising through the Fragile X Webring and landed for a good read on your blog. I don't know how you lasted 45 minutes with those teenagers using the word retarded so many times. Wow. This would be a good one to repost tomorrow for Spread the Word to End the Word day. Enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

While I am entirely with you on reclaiming the proper definition of words like retarded, I can only imagine that the snarkiest of the illiterate teenagers you encountered would have used your well intentioned comment against you by diffusing it with a casual quip disrespecting both you and your son. I'm not saying that you should give up on your educational campaign, and you very likely helped that one capable girl, but making your argument personal will often make it easier for people to abuse your sympathies.