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Joking? I can’t believe you just SAID that….

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Joking? I can’t believe you just SAID that….

Secret. When I was in high school I helped out with the special Olympics at my school.  I was a senior and … thought I was big stuff.  You know what I said while outside working the special Olympics? “That is so retarded.” True story.  I immediately was mortified.  In my defense, I was 16 and realized my mistake.  My face turned red, I walked away – so embarrassed that I would say something so crass at a function so important. 

I told you that story so you could know that I’m not standing on my perch preaching down to you. I’ve been there.  I’ve said and done and thought a million things I’m not proud of.  But… now –  things are different.   I believe I am hard to talk to.

Lately we’ve been spending a lot of time with friends, family members, and people we don’t talk to on a regular basis.  They aren’t used to spending time with me.  They aren’t used to having conversations with me.  Something is said and I’m offended.  Something is almost said and everyone stops.  Someone is talking to me and they suddenly just trail off….  I’m over sensitive.  The world is not sensitive enough.

I teach about social situations.  I HATE hate.  I try to live tolerance every day.  And you know what?  Other people around me live tolerance also.  I do not associate with bigots.   They don’t make crass statements about women, people of other religions or ethnicities, or just… people in general.  Except. the. helpless.  Why is it ok to make fun of people with special needs? People like my SON.
alexander chillin'
Oh – here’s a list of the things I’ve heard in the past week or so…

I stopped by a blog I thought would be awesome.  I was reading it and getting ready to comment on how witty she was.  And then – there it was – in print.  The “R” word.  Yup.  “When I run, I look retarded.”  Thanks.  Thanks for putting yourself out there with my SON who has spent every ounce of energy trying to sit up and I pray one day runs.  JERK.
I’ve seen first hand people using physical gaits, hand tics, and non – verbal sounds … (you know what I’m talking about) because they think it is funny.  That might be my SON someday.  JERK.
“That person is going to ride the short bus.”  Guess What?  My SON has a nurse that stays with him every day.  I’m pretty sure he’s going to ride a short bus to school.  JERK.
“That person is special.”  JERK.

*sigh*  That doesn’t even begin to touch on the number of conversations I’ve had where people begin down that path and realize what they are going to say and just …. sort ….. of ….. trail…. off…..

I can’t fix the world. But, women can stand up for themselves.  Minorities can stand up for themselves.  People of different religions can stand up for themselves.  Who will stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves?

And stepping down from my pedestal – I’m guilty of things too.  How many times do I say, “You almost gave me a heart attack!” What if that person lost a loved one because of a heart attack?  Or, “If I hear that one more time I am going to shoot myself.” (If you are thinking of THIS POST – no worries) … but – honestly – how inappropriate is that statement?   Am I a JERK? 

What are we going to do?  Will there be a day when you can’t say anything without offending someone? 

I guess I’m just trying to wrap my head around this.  I hear it. I hear people say we are to “Politically Correct.” and I can see the validity in their statement. 

But then I hear the jokes.  I see the people making fun of … the person that could be my son. And my heart breaks.  My mommy gut shifts into high gear. I want to scream.  I want to lash out.  I realize I will alienate the other person… they didn’t mean it.  They didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. 
They don’t think about Alexander that way.

Truth…. Weather you like it or not – most of those things apply to Alexander.
What will that person (who thinks it is funny today to stiffen their arms and gait around and make noises that sound like words) do … if someday Alexander uses ALL HIS ENERGY to walk and manages a gait and ALL HIS ENERGY to talk and doesn’t enunciate his words properly.
I will clap. I will be proud.  Tears – proud tears of joy will stream down my face that Alexander is walking and communicating.
Will that other person feel pride? Will they continue to use the same joke?
Or… will people just avoid us because they are so worried they might offend us?

Thoughts?  What gets tossed around that you think should end – once and for all? Do you think I’m too sensitive?  Go ahead – give it to me!

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At August 15, 2011 at 7:01 PM , Blogger Meredith said...

Thought provoking... Honest...

Made me think.

At August 15, 2011 at 7:12 PM , Blogger Kimmie said...

I think every joke ever told unfortunately offends somebody somewhere. I know there are things I have said that would offend you now that wouldn't have offended you earlier in our friendship, but I also know that you feel very strongly about this so when I do speak to you, I will think before I talk. I hope I don't ever offend you and if I do, I am more deeply sorry than you can ever know. Humans make mistakes and often put their feet in their mouths but I think the forgiving is just as heart wrenching as the true feeling of guilt.

At August 15, 2011 at 8:37 PM , Blogger Heather Reese said...

One time I was at a bar with my best friend at the time, and I was drunk. She said something stupid (like, silly stupid... just trying to be a goofball) and I said "You are so gay.".... she just looked at me, and probably because we were both drunk, we just started laughing. But it made me think.

At August 15, 2011 at 8:50 PM , Blogger Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Honestly, people are so, well not thinking. I hear the same stuff all the time. I know it is mostly unintentional, but it hurts, especially when you attach it to a beautiful little soul like your son's. Great post.

At August 17, 2011 at 6:10 AM , Anonymous Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot said...

Hi Kristen,

Blimey, you have a lot on your plate. I'm super sensitive too. A counsellor once told me it was a symptom of depression. Not sure if that's true but I do know when I'm happy nothing much bothers me and when I'm stressed almost anything can drive me nuts.

I put my foot in it all the time but I'd like to have your input here. When my kids ask what's wrong with someone (we have a friend who has Down Syndrome) I explain they're not a fast learner like them.

But we all mess up sometimes. To err is human, to forgive divine:)

Good luck finding a little something for you. I know it can be done and your kids are still so young. You are in the thick of it.

Keep up the great blogging:)

At August 18, 2011 at 12:58 PM , Blogger Jennie said...

Such a beautiful declaration from a loving mother. I feel your love pouring through the screen and my heart swells for you! This post had me in absolute tears. I thank you for the little "wake-up call." Not that I use the "R" word or anything like that, but it makes me think about everything I say--or shouldn't say.

We have to be so careful because we never know what someone else has gone through. In my husband's family, the offensive word is "die" or "kill" because my husband's brother (and best friend) was killed in a 20-car pile-up trying to save people's lives--and he was the only one who died. So saying things like "I love you to death" or "I'll kill you" (even as jokes) don't fly. At. All.

And I totally get that. It's really made me stop and think about EVERYTHING I say. And people are mostly oblivious. Most of the time, people DON'T think.

Do I think you're being too sensitive? NOT. AT. ALL. You said it breaks your heart when people say things like that, and my heart is literally breaking too, on your behalf (I'm a boob, cuz I'm still teary-eyed as I'm writing this).

I can't imagine going through what you're going through, and how much that would hurt. Having ANYTHING wrong with your children hurts us more than it hurts them I think. But I CAN imagine just how much you love and care for him, and how you will celebrate with tears at each of his accomplishment.

And when he DOES learn to walk, you do JUST that! Jump, clap, cry. (And blog about it so I can celebrate with you as I read)

I'm so glad I found your blog, Kristen! You are so inspiring! My heart goes out to you! And your kids are absolutely beautiful!

Oh, and you couldn't find a "contact me" section on my blog because I totally spaced that. I'm still a little new to the blogging world. I'm going to go put one up right now... :)

I don't have twitter (I'm a little behind on the times), but I do have facebook, and my email is

Sorry for the novel!


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