Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Six Letter Word

Thanksgiving weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the entire year.  I love to eat... and since that is a holiday where you are supposed to eat... its a good one.  I also love to shop... all night long... and get amazing deals.  I love the rush and the thrill of trying to make it before the doorbusters are gone.  I love eating at the mall food court in the wee hours of the morning.  I like decorating the house and watching rivalry weekend on ESPN.  But this year, something happened on Black Friday that was disturbing to me.

A six letter word.

I went to Sears for their 8pm opening after carefully reviewing the ad and making my list (and checking it twice).  I knew what I wanted and where I needed to go.  The doors opened and it began... one of the most wonderful times of the year.  The shoppers surged in and I broke out in a jog to get to where I wanted to go.

After I got the items I wanted, I was standing in line when I heard it.

The six letter word.

There were two young boys.  They were probably seniors in high school, or possibly college students.  But they were old enough to know better.  One bumped into the other, and they knocked a display, causing things to fall to the floor in the crowded department store.  
Then one looked at the other and said, "Dude, stop being a retard."

In the past, that was me saying that.  I never thought a thing about it really.
And then I had to sit in a doctors office, look at my gorgeous daughter, and hear mental retardation discussed.  I had to listen to probabilities and statistics... best guesses and predictions.  I heard about therapy, IEPs, special education, brain scans, and IQ testing.
I heard something to the effect of...
"At the age of 5, we will do another MRI and IQ testing... and then we will be able to determine the extent of mental retardation, if it exists.  Until then, we work our tails off to reroute those pathways in the brain that have been damaged."

The six letter word.
It is a diagnosis, and yet somehow we have changed it into a degrading insult.
We use it to describe actions that seem unintelligent or inappropriate. 
Ironically enough, that particular use of the word "retard" falls into both of those categories.

Using the "R" word around the special-needs community is like using the "N" word around people of color.
Not your finest moment.  And not at all accurate.
Because people who are diagnosed with mental retardation aren't stupid.
They are different.  They are compassionate, caring, funny, and kind.  They have talents.
They may need extra help, and they may not write the next bestseller or invent the next device.
But they really don't deserve for us to turn their medical diagnosis into a slang term for a lack of intelligence.
Because really... when we do that... it just reflects our own inadequacies.

Please do your best to end the usage of the six letter word.
For the sake of those out there who have been diagnosed, but don't deserve to be disgraced.

Friday, November 9, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things.

 Today I'm thankful for affectionate little girls.
I'm thankful for giggles that come easily.

I'm thankful for spontaneity.
I'm thankful for excitement.
And hilarious phrases.

I'm thankful for drama and dimples.

I'm thankful for a quick mind that learns easily.
I'm thankful for a sweet, cooperative spirit.

I'm thankful that every time Big D works nights, 
I get asked if someone can sleep in my bed.
Because she likes to snuggle.

I'm thankful for big blue eyes that light up.
I'm thankful for expressions and sincerity in storytelling.

 I'm thankful for childlike faith.
I'm thankful for everlasting hope.
I'm thankful for jubilant joy.
And I'm thankful for fierce, protecting love.

I'm mostly thankful for Savannah.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful for Progress

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll be blogging some things I am thankful for.
Today I am thankful for progress.

I'm thankful for one day at a time.
I'm thankful for baby steps.
I'm thankful for first words and silly smiles.

I'm thankful that one year ago this girl had a feeding tube taped to her face and there was talk of a g-tube surgery being scheduled.
And one year later... no tube... graduated from feeding therapy...and look. at. the. belly.

I'm thankful that the sense of humor shines through without words.
I'm thankful for the laughs I get to share with this girl every day.

I'm thankful that at least some of the time we are brace-free.
Even if we do insist on wearing pink shoes every. single. day.

 I'm thankful for the terrible twos.
Because they are very developmentally normal.
And normal is so nice.
And the pout is even kinda cute sometimes.

I'm thankful for fearlessness.
I'm thankful that despite all she has been through, she knows she is safe.
I'm thankful for her brave, tough, strong spirit.

Mostly I'm just thankful for that silly girl.
And her progress.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Bloopers

 How is it that photographing one child isn't too bad, but photographing two children is terribly challenging?  

In the interest of keeping it real, I wanted to share all of my pre-trick-or-treating snapshots.

You should also imagine me threatening that nobody gets any candy if they don't smile and cooperate... if you really want to keep it... really... real.

Happy Halloween!