Friday, April 29, 2011

The Stupid Things People Say

Sometimes I wish I lived in a perfect world for Eslea. One where the r-word is never used. One where everyone can see how beautiful and special she really is. How she is just like them. Just like you. Just like me. But I don't, not yet anyway. So still I have to face the harsh words and views almost daily of those who choose to still see people who are maybe a little different as something less.
I have written before about the use of the r-word at my school. Working around teenagers you hear many things and you learn to tune them out. You also learn to develop a hard shell when it comes to the words that can flow from an impulse driven teenager. Knowing that my super mom armor springs on quickly, along with one mighty fine cape, when I am faced with a need to defend my Eslea, I was very surprised at the reaction I had to a recent incident.
It was one rainy afternoon (yes, that's how I'm starting) and I again had the awesome duty of monitoring the cafeteria. Now let me tell you, if you have not had the wonderful opportunity of "duty" in the educational system, you are missing out my friends. (cough, cough) One of my senior students approaches me to discuss his graduation plan...or lack there of. Since transferring to our school system this student has made it known that he does not intend to graduate with his class but instead desires to return for a fifth year of high school. While we were discussing this he inquires what he will have to do during his fifth year in regards to exactly where he will be taking courses. Our school has a long standing policy that if a student can not finish in four years, he/she must attend alternative school during the fifth year. This prevents us from having 19-20 year-old students in the same classes with doe-eyed 14 year-old teenagers.
After explaining the policy to this student, he started to protest that although he is nineteen,  he wants to stay on campus to study. I explained that only in rare circumstances could that happen and he must speak with the principal. Again, he probed and I explained that some students needed extra time to finish high school and were allowed to do so by the state.

This is his response....
"Oh, you mean like special ed students. I can pretend to be special ed."
He then proceeds to beat his hand on his chest while crossing his eyes and making the "dur" sound.
Yes. My armor was full on by the end of his little act. Red cloak blowing in the wind and all. I was a sight to behold, yet somehow I managed to keep my emotions and heart under control. It must have been my armor. (I did manage to mend the hole that was made from the doctor's visit.)
I just gave him a faint smile and said calmly...
"Did you know that my baby who was born this past year has down syndrome?  I can assure you that she does not act that way."
I wish you could have seen his face. For about 10 seconds he was locked somewhere between a smile and shock. It was priceless. So wish I would have had my camera.

Learning how to say and do the right things in those moments is becoming easier. I am less quick to react and more likely to try assisting the person in learning. If I would have gotten mad, he would not have listened. Instead, I'm sure that it a lesson he will remember for many years to come.

This mama is proud to use her super powers for good. I can't wait till Eslea is bigger. We are going to make one awesome super team. Fighting ignorance one person at a time.

What about you and your little super family; how is your battle going in the war against ignorance?

The weekend is here and my family is taking a much needed break. Time for some rest and relaxation. Or, maybe if I can just get a few hours of sleep squeezed in between bathroom breaks, bottle fixing and washing that darn super cape. 

I can dream anyway.

Happy Friday!


  1. You are SOOOOO good. I think a lot of people could learn from this post, learn how to react to ignorance with true dignity, grace, and a determination to *teach* a valuable lesson. Good for you!!!!!

  2. Nicely said, Erin! I totally agree that lashing out in anger certainly makes the message get lost in the delivery. I bet that young man never expected that from you, and will probably never forgot that experience.

    This post, while sad because of people's ignorance, still made me smile. : )

  3. nicely said! good for you. I work in a public high school too and I'm ready to kick any kid out of my class who dares use the "r" far I haven't had to make any dramatic stands. So proud that you did it so eloquently!

  4. Love super women!! and u rock the cape!! My husband is a high school teacher and does weekly talks about the "r" word, about Maddie and our it hurts and effects and to raise awareness...and I am talking with a class at the high school next week! kind of nervous...but I know it is time to step out of my box and educate...lately I have been holding my breath when the word presents become strong instead of reactive and have the person disengage...smiles

  5. Great post! I havent had any real issues yet with anything like that, not face to face anyway...I think I am still a bit senstive to it though...I would hope I would be as strong as you were, I am afraid I would just burst into tears though. You did beautifuly!

  6. What a great blog! I admit I don't always react calmly when I hear the r-word, and in fact I lost a job once because of my reaction to an ignoramous who used it!
    I am an author and the proud father of a 38-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. I have written a novel in ebook form, A SPY AT HOME, which is available on Amazon. In this book I have a central character, Noah, who has Down. I invite you to read this ebook, and I would be very interested in your thoughts about the story. I can be reached directly at
    Thank you for your blog and for sharing your child with Down syndrome.
    Joe Rinaldo