Gabe sees a counselor on Thursdays; Dr. B. She's awesome and we love her (and more importantly, Gabe loves her) today she had an assistant to help with scheduling, etc. She's actually the receptionist/medical assistant from the pediatrician's office downstairs. She was polite and kind and chatted away...until she flung the "r" word out.
The "R" word, is, of course, retard. She said "oh I am so retarded. ah ha ha ha"
I looked at her and politely said "I would really prefer if you didn't say that word."
She said "Um, ok, I didn't mean anything by it, I meant I was being stupid"
My response "And being stupid and being retarded are NOT interchangeable So if you want to say that you're being stupid, just say so. "
She said "I don't know why it bothers you so much"
"Because my son is retarded"
"no he's not" she said
"Yes", I replied, "he is. He is physically retarded"
to which she said "no. no he's not. he's so...polite. there's no way he's retarded"
(at this point I was steaming mad...)
I said, softly, politely-if you will-"Gabe has a hole in his spine as well as other related problems, so yes, he is retarded. Just because he has a physical disability, does NOT mean that he can't have manners"
And at that point, I thought it would stop, but it didn't
She said to me "well, I'm sorry but he's too polite to be that way and I still don't understand why I shouldn't say the word. Besides my nephew is...he's 'like that' and he's fine. He doesn't care if I say it"
I nodded and smiled and the doctor called her away.
A few minutes later, I could tell she was still flustered, whathaveyou so I said as she was leaving, to show that I wasn't angry at her (because I wasn't, more annoyed than anything else) "Have a safe trip home, it's getting icky out there"
She stopped and said thank you and said "you know, my nephew and your son are both really polite, and I don't think of them as having any problems. I just don't. My nephew is really eager to please and I love him"
It's fine that her nephew doesn't care about the word retard being tossed around so cavalierly, that's his choice, but I prefer not to hear it because retard does NOT mean stupid and it's insulting to those who are retarded to have the word stupid equated with them.
After she left, I was still so annoyed that I spoke to the doctor she worked for; the doctor was less than impressed and promised me it would be taken care of. She looked horrified (particularly since she works primarily with children who have Autism and other disabilities) and I'm glad. It's NOT okay to use that word, especially when you're in the position to be dealing with patients day in and day out-of all the people that I've ever encountered, I wouldn't have guessed in a million years a medical "professional" would have used such a derogatory comment-especially while in a medical facility!
I'm just so thankful that Gabriel didn't hear her trying to justify her use of the word, I don't want to have that conversation with him yet. He's too little and doesn't need to know that people out there think less of him and others with disabilities as lesser people, as people whose feelings do not matter. I will protect him as long as I can from the hurtful ignorance of other people...you can count on that.