Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Just A Word

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting this annual challenge.

It's just a word.  An old habit begun long ago in your youth.  Something you say when you're frustrated or angry or annoyed.  A word to describe something that doesn't make sense.  You might even may use it in jest, as a joke with your friends.  You didn't mean it that way.  It's just a word.

Of course, I know you would never say anything to hurt me or my family.  I know that you care, and it wasn't in spite.  Calling you out is a risk of our friendship, and I see the surprise on your face when I do.  But I need to tell you.  I need you to know.

That word is a blow to me, deep down inside.  A strike to my heart, it takes away my breath, leaving me off-balance and shaken.   It connects with my soul, sending waves of invisible pain to my core.  My mind whirls with practiced comebacks and phrases to combat its assault, and I've rehearsed them in many, many other instances like this one.  But each time I'm faced with it, when it's right there before me, its power disarms all of my careful thought and planning.  It hurts.

Because to me it's not just a word, it's a person.  My beautiful daughter, born 16 years ago.  Genetic testing confirmed her first label, Down syndrome.  The word that you use came right after, written on papers and spoken in doctor's offices, stamped by professionals on her early intervention plans.  While I fight the connection between word and human being, I cannot sever the link.  I know that the word doesn't define her.  It doesn't describe all that she is or will become.  But when you say it, in that way, our world gets a bit smaller, our possibilities more limited, and it brings all of us Down.  

So don't say it.  Please. 

To learn more and take the pledge, go to http://r-word.org/ 


7 comments:

  1. I had to talk to a student just yesterday about this very topic! I point out that what they really mean is something like "ridiculous" and I suggest they use that word instead. (He was referring to a math question, so his choice of word was truly ridiculous!)

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    1. Thank you, Maria. It's especially important for kids to understand that their words have power, and they should choose them wisely.

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  2. Very powerful...I love how you so beautifully and without judgement educate those who do not understand the power of the word.

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    1. Thanks Rissa- It's a difficult situation, and it's easy to feel angry when faced with it over the years. I've found, though, that most people just don't realize the power that one little word has, and I've tried to educate rather than condemn.

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  3. Kris,
    Thank you for sharing a very touching story and a very important message. I think there are a lot of words used in our world that we need to think a bit about.

    This paragraph is so powerful:

    "That word is a blow to me, deep down inside. A strike to my heart, it takes away my breath, leaving me off-balance and shaken. It connects with my soul, sending waves of invisible pain to my core. My mind whirls with practiced comebacks and phrases to combat its assault, and I've rehearsed them in many, many other instances like this one. But each time I'm faced with it, when it's right there before me, its power disarms all of my careful thought and planning. It hurts."

    I could feel your pain. Thanks for sharing this very important slice.
    Cathy

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    1. Thanks, Cathy. This is something that has always been difficult for me, even after years of "experience." It's the first time I've put my thoughts and feelings out there in the open.

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  4. What a moving explanation of the negative impact of this word and the power it has to hurt. Thank you for sharing such personal thoughts. May you - may all of us - never hear this word again.

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