Friday, October 19, 2012

The R-Word

We have taken a break from the Narnia Chronicles at bedtime as we read this wonderful book, Out of My Mind, which is about a young girl with cerebral palsy who can't talk or walk, but believe me she has plenty to say.

It's not a coincidence that this book belongs in our home library.  Of course I picked it out to further my child's understanding of disability, acceptance, and shattering limitations.

Last night, we read the chapter about Melody going to her first inclusion class.  A "typical"child called her a "retard".

I paused.

I almost couldn't say the word out loud but I choked it out and then put the book down.

Corbin looked confused as he knew the chapter wasn't over and I blurted out, "You do know that that word is completely unacceptable and I never want to hear you call somebody that."

Corbin looked a little guilty and asked why it was so bad.  I struggled as I tried to figure out how to explain it to him at his age.

"When people call other people retarded they are making fun of a whole group of people who have no choice about why they're brains or their bodies work differently than ours.  They are making fun of people who are born different."

He still looked confused.

"People that use that word might think your brother belonged in that group.  Some people, who think it's okay to use that word, might someday call him a retard and how would that make you feel?"

Corbin's face scrunched up and he quickly responded, "That would make me feel like I would want to punch them!!"

Instead of taking the moment to teach that violence isn't the answer, I validated his emotions.  That's certainly how I would feel too, I wouldn't act on it of course, but I feel that way every time I feel he's getting mocked or teased.

We teach acceptance in this house.  We teach equality.  We do not teach respect for those that bully, hurt, or degrade those that are different.

We teach that words hurt.

And we teach that the "R-word" is as bad as a curse word. Actually in my mind it's worse than a curse word.

1 comment:

Cortney AbouElSeoud said...

I ran across your blog from Tara @Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy. So many blogs lately about the R-word after a certain twitter comment (or two). What a great way to explain to your son about the use of that word. I have a 5 year old special needs son with autism and fragile x syndrome and I'm quite sure that someday soon we'll be having a very similar conversation with his younger brother.