“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. I'll always be with you.”
~A.A. Milne, from "Winnie the Pooh"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On the Overusage of the R Word

 A word that is widely used in our culture. It's thrown thoughtlessly into our every day conversations, in reference to anything that is stupid or idiotic.
Its a word that I never gave a second thought to. It was so common in even my own dialogues that I never even blinked to hear it said by someone else. Yes, I am ashamed to admit that I used to be one of "those" people. In fact, not that I would have ever been heartless enough to do it in front of someone with a disability, but I even used to act like the stereotypical mentally delayed person just to get laughs from friends. Never once during the thousand times that I acted so despicably or said that tiny little word repeatedly did I ever stop to think about just what my callous actions were teaching my son, or considered the possibility that I might be unintentionally hurting someone's feelings...someone who overheard me or saw me, someone with a child, a sibling, a friend, the world at large would use that word to describe.
I'm ashamed. Truly truly ashamed.
I don't have any excuses. I don't believe that even claiming my own ignorance is excuse enough.
In all those times, no one ever called me on the inappropriateness of my words or my actions.
I now find myself in the unique position of being that mother who overheard me joking with MY son in the grocery store, the one who was too shocked and hurt by the actions of a stranger to speak up and say something.......

I don't say much about the use of that word. I probably should say more. I know, logically, that when someone says it, my child never enters their mind. She is loved greatly by those I hear it from most, in fact.
 But the truth is, regardless of the lack of vocalization on my part when it is said, it hurts. Its sort of crazy how one word can have the effect of sticking a thousand tiny knives in my heart. I WANT to say something but the words stick in my throat and I can't get past my shock that knowing my daughter, someone actually would say it to me.
I know it isn't a word that I will ever be able to completely shield Lydia from. That's just an unfortunate fact of life. However, the word does strike strong feelings in me and I can only imagine what hearing that word from the mouth of someone who loves her will do to her someday......
So, to the several people in our lives who have used this word without even blinking in conversation with me over the last month or two, I'm asking you to please (PLEASE!) find another word. Be conscientious enough to realize that you said it, and apologize if you do. I promise I'm not going to turn into the word Nazi...I'm just asking as a friend, as a family member, as the parent of a child that will have a place in MY child's life, don't say it to me. Don't say it to anyone. There are plenty of other words to use, words that I can promise are a whole lot more creative...and just might make you look brilliant!

PS To the friend who used this word in conversation, immediately switched it to another word, and apologized....(you know who you are!) I love you, girl. That one second had more of an effect on me than you will ever know. No one has ever even stopped to think about what they said to me before...and I appreciate that you care enough to try to not say it..and not teach it to your kids! :)


  1. You have expressed my feeling exactly Heidi! I have been a lifelong offender and am now in rehab so to say. Thanks for saying what I think some of have been to scared to say!

  2. It wasn't until I landed my most favorite job working with the MR/DD population that I realized how awful that word really is. I am now proud to say that my children will never be so insensitive. Great post!


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