Are you there, patience? It’s me…J’s mom…

I would say these are times that try the soul if I didn’t really mean that these are times that try my patience.  It’s the green cargo pants.  Oh, how I hate/love those things.  The love part comes from J’s desire to fish them out of the laundry basket and wear them two, three days in a row thus acting like a normal teenager who digs through the piles of things on the bedroom floor to find what they want.  The hate comes from this morning…the darned pants were in the dryer, soggy and unwearable, and King Kong decided to pound his chest in disgust because he had to wear other pants.  I understand that it’s a “fit” thing, but this morning was just overwhelming to me.

In the end my child left for school with the uncomfortable pants, the wet pants in a bag, and eight quarters to pay for drying them in the classroom clothes dryer.  I explained to him (after telling him to wipe the smugly triumphant look off his face) that we are shopping for pants and he’s going to wear something other than the green pants that make him look like a homeless hobo.  On one shoulder he hung his backpack, on one arm he carried his boxing gloves, and in the other hand he held Slinky and the bag with the sopping-wet garment.  My suspicion is that, as of this moment, J is sitting in front of the dryer, watching it spin while waiting for his pants to be ready; let’s hope he doesn’t get a nasty case of vertigo (or whatever) out of the experience.

He’s like a dog with a bone.  That’s something to love, but it’s also very irritating.  With only one cup of coffee in my system, I wasn’t quite ready for the battle of the trousers.

Second item of the day, in terms of patience: slurs are bad.  I really find the use of any word that uses an innate trait as an insult.  Even when the person it’s being used against doesn’t have that innate trait.  You can’t help where you were born, what color your skin is, what religion you were raised in and choose to believe in, if you’re a boy who likes boys or a girl who likes girls, if one nostril is bigger than the other or if you have a developmental disability.  Ergo, in this particular case, the word “retard” sends me through the roof.

Oh, I know it’s just a word.  Believe me, no one is more semantically inclined than I am.  I love words.  I love where they come from, how they are formed, how they are used; I love seeing them written, hearing them spoken, translating them…  Language is a living thing.  Slurs are its cancer.  What ugly things these words do and how they mar the beauty of something that we are supposed to use to communicate with each other.  I’ve called schools about kids using slurs; I’ve stopped people from saying words in front of me because they were an unfair application of a term.  I don’t go so far as to want to edit words out of books (like they did with poor Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn) because books reflect a moment in time, history and culture, but when you are exchanging opinions and throw in a word vested with a mean connotation…oh…that bothers me.

This is my logic (and if you’ve ready my Facebook status today, you already know this): when you use a word, or allow its use in conversation with you from another person, you are saying that this word is acceptable to you, that you have an opinion formed around that word.  There is nothing wrong with saying a person is “gay” if the person is gay, but when you say a person’s actions are “gay” because, in your estimation, they are spineless, show a great degree of affectation or you simply want to express your dislike of them, that’s not cool.  If you think a person is acting stupidly, out of ignorance or a simple disagreement with your viewpoint, calling them “retarded” is not cool.  There is a huge difference between “I’m uneducated because I really don’t find any use for intellectual growth or for applying myself to academic pursuits” and “I’m educated to the degree which my intellectual capacity allows me to be.”  Ignorance, when it is willful, is not equivalent to mental retardation; it’s just plain and simple ignorance.

Oh, they’re just words.  Yes, they are; that’s why they are in the dictionary and they are given definitions, and there are examples of usage in a sentence.  But those words also have people attached to them; they are laden with emotion because of the human factor.  You think someone is dumb?  Call them “thick as a floorboard.”  You think someone is stubborn, call them a “mule.”  You think someone is persnickety…call them persnickety.  As I explained to TGG this morning (when I gave him the heads up about the Facebook status, what prompted it and what might happen in response to it,) there has yet to be found one single human in this planet, regardless of their skin color, religion, intellectual capacity, ethnicity, birthplace, political inclination or sexual orientation, who -under normal circumstances and barring the need for surgical adaptation- takes a dump out of any hole other than the one we all use…

When you allow a word to seep into your lingo and blossom into a connotation that is not the intended one (because retard IS in the Oxford and Merriam-Webster’s dictionaries and has a meaning that is not the insult,) an image is attached to the word, and it becomes part of your consciousness.  If you don’t stop the word from being used that way, you’re subscribing to it.

J is autistic, and mentally retarded.  He’s funny, smart in his own way, stubborn, annoying, willful, arrogant, handsome, messy one day and persnickety another, considerate, pushy…a myriad things come to mind when I think of J.  “Retard” is not one of them.

Sorry for the rant…but I do feel better now.  Getting off my high-horse…toilets to clean today!


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