Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm Retarded....

"I retarded." That's exactly what Hannah said to me today plain as day! She was being a pain in her car seat as I let Jeida out today and I told Angelina she was being a brat and Hannah said, "uhhhhhhhh, I retarded." I knew the day would come but I had no idea it would be this soon. Obviously she's heard it somewhere and it breaks my heart. Still, I can't help but wonder if whoever she heard the term from was not meaning an ounce of harm in using it. How many times have I used the phrase, "stop acting retarded" and didn't feel an ounce of remorse about it? That is, until, I had Hannah. Would I still be using the phrase without a guilty conscience if I did not have Hannah? She obviously doesn't understand the term and what it implies. To be honest we made the word a "naughty" word when Hannah came into our lives. Before that it was not something we'd say on a regular basis and was always something we discouraged using but it was never a forbidden word. It was usually used because the word made a point that we were trying to get across like no other word did. So, what do I do? Do I teach Hannah that the word retarded is a bad word? When I looked it up in the dictionary it states:

re·tard 1
Pronunciation Key v. re·tard·ed, re·tard·ing, re·tards v. tr.

To cause to move or proceed slowly; delay or impede.

v. intr. To be delayed.

A slowing down or hindering of progress; a delay.

Hannah is delayed. Why is that bad? Because it's not neruro typical? Why is it that we have this standard and anyone that doesn't meet that standard is broken and needs to be fixed? I understand that we have to prepare our kids to live in this " neuro typical" world and that means "fixing" them so they won't be mistreated and misunderstood. What's sad to me is that my kid spends so much time trying to fit in a world that does not understand and for the most part refuses to understand or accept her that she may never discover who she really is! God did not make her like everyone else. He did not even put in her the ability to be "neuro typical". Most of us have that ability to "fit". She does not. I don't know, it just feels wrong to me. What did all the parents before us do when they found out their kids were "delayed"? Sometimes I think things had to be easier when you didn't have all these syndromes and disorders and your child was just "slow". Now, there are so many that your lucky if you even find the right one that your child fits in. Then once you do there is not one treatment but hundreds of treatments and they are all trial and error. You can easily go bankrupt and many family's have!

I had the most awesome experience this summer. We were fortunate to let Hannah participate in an aquatic therapy class for kids with special needs. All week long many of these kids lived in a world that didn't get them, that was trying to make them "fit", but for 45 minutes everyone in that pool was just like them. There was no "fitting" that had to be done. The instructor understood them and she became one of them. There was no staring when a child had a meltdown because every parent in that place understood. The support and encouragement was amazing. I watched as week after week these kids improved. Their behavior improved. Their muscle tone and balance improved. There was no pressure and these kids were thriving!

Please understand that I do know that our kids need therapy. They need "neuro typical" activities. I know we need to help them fit. However, I do believe that we can overdo it and we overdo it in a quest to be the "good parent", not neccessarily as a benefit to our child. Because every "good" mom need to say that they did everything possible to give their child the BEST life. I know that's a struggle I have everyday. If Hannah were to die tonight in her sleep having a seizure and I did not know that I had done everything in my power to keep that from happening, I'd never forgive myself. If something happned to me and I knew that Hannah was not prepared to live without me, I could not die in peace. These are real struggles and fears. It's hard. It's almost impossible to balance and adjust. At least for me it is.

So, how'd any of that have anything to do with Hannah saying she was retarded. I'm not sure. I just got to typing and could not stop. Most of you know me and know my heart so I don't think you'll take offense to anything I just typed. I love my girl. Since I was a teenager taking care of one of my mom's dear friends mentally and physically handicapped daughter's I had the desire to do something with special needs kids. Then God blessed us with Hannah and sometimes I tell him that wasn't in the plan, but honestly, I couldnt' and wouldn't trade her for anything. She has taught us so much about this life and I know she'll keep on teaching us. She is our princess who wants a yellow and green dog named Sandy! LOL! Thanks for all the support guys! I couldn't do it without you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm the mom of a child with mild cognitive impairment who lights up our world. I was very touched by what you wrote. I work hard at trying to teach people not to use the word retarded. I think it's up to all of us to teach the world how demeaning that word can be. Time to speak up without worrying about offending the offender.
Best wishes in your journey with Hannah.