Thursday, January 7, 2010

Update

So, ummm, that letter I sent to that person who (repeatedly) dropped the R-word on us recently. She got my letter and left a voice mail message a couple days ago saying that she wanted to get together with us to talk about it. So we got together with her this afternoon. I went back and forth with myself for the last couple of days as to whether to bring Finn with us or not. She had never met him, and there was a part of me that wanted to put a face to the whole issue for her - to show her that at the center of this is a flesh and blood baby. But another part of me worried that it might be too in-her-face and obnoxious (even though obnoxious would not be my intent). The former won out and I took him with us.

I was very nervous before our meeting today. Even knowing that I wasn't in the wrong, personal confrontation is just very hard. It's one thing to call people out on the internet; it's another thing entirely to confront someone face to face when there is an actual relationship at stake.

A lot of people I have talked about this with have declared indignantly that "She owes you an apology." But an apology wasn't what I was after. An apology means nothing unless it's backed up with some genuine understanding of the issue at hand and an intent to change future behavior. That's what I wanted: for her to get it. And to convince me that she gets it.

And I think she does. I'm not going to rehash our entire discussion here, but she did say that "retard" was a word that was widely used and accepted back in her day (she's in her 60s), and that clearly, she understands that it's time to update that. How she has made it this far without realizing that - and in her particular line of work, especially - is a little mind blowing, but I think she was being sincere. The main thing is that she gets that it's hurtful and hateful language, and that it affects real people. And she herself made the point that not only should she be mindful that her audience may be someone touched by Down syndrome, but using language like that in any setting only perpetuates acceptance of that sort of language. So I do believe that she genuinely gets it. And that's what I really wanted.

So I am pleased with the outcome of all this. And I'm glad we took Finn along. Because who can resist him?


11 comments:

Christina M said...

Wonderful.
And glad you took Finn, he is just the cutest.

Molly said...

I'm pretty sure if you brought Finn you could convince me to drop any word from my vocabulary. Even if that word was something I love, like cake.

Jokes aside I am glad that you sent the letter!! My little sister has become the r word detector. She's 15. She's working to ensure that her generation will NOT be one that uses this word freely.

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. You definatley win the gold advocate star for the week. You handled that beautifully and I bet she takes your information and helps someone else to understand. A job well done Lisa. Thank you. And you're right, who could resist Finn.

Mel said...

I think you're brave. And I believe her too, and think you're right to give her a second chance. It takes guts to admit you're wrong.

tekeal said...

hello, i've been following your story with this friend and want to say that i think it's couragous of you to have taken a stand for your son and for all of us, so thank you! i would also say that it's shocking she hadn't come to this conclusion before, but somehow also couragous on her behalf to have been open to seeing things differently, and this gives me hope.
finn is a real sweet heart! all the best...

Leigh Anne said...

that's wonderful lisa. i'm glad you did what you did. the mind of one person being changed leads to more and more. (i recently told my nephew to stop using that word...and he apologized. i was proud of him. he's 18)

Cate said...

awesome.

go you! you rock.

and I'm glad you brought Finn.

Wendy P said...

I'm so glad it went well and that she understood. And really, who can resist Finn?

(I showed D your "My kid is cuter than yours" post and he said, "Well, she does have a point.")

Megan said...

Woot! That's awesome.

Mer said...

Great job being both gracious and strong! :) It produces just the right result!

Esther and Brian said...

My twins love to watch Nursery Rhymes on On Demand TV. They love the singing part and watching the other kiddos. But here is something that I noticed: there are never any children with Down Syndrome, or Cerebral Palsy, or maybe in a wheelchair, or anything. Why could they not include them? They would be able to see "the wheel on the bus" or "row row row your boat" just as well. Maybe at a later age, but so what? The kids on the shows are from 12months to 6 years or age easily- total mix. They (producers) make sure to put kids from various ethnicities but don't think about the fact the there are many children left out. Just made me think today...totally off subject here but wanted to share....