Friday, September 5, 2014

Mama, what's retarded mean?

"Mama, what's retarded mean?" my boy asks nonchalantly.  

He is continuously attempting to figure out his world by asking loads of questions.  What does a certain word mean?  Why can we hear a radio station clearly in one part of town but static-y in another part of town?  How many cities away are we from the town where "XYZ" radio station has their radio tower? Why is there natural electricity in the air?  The list goes on and on.  And on.

I feel like Mamapedia, although many times he completely stumps me and I have to say the words he hates to hear, "I don't know".  Sometimes my brain gets tired from the rapid fire questions and starts to shut down, but not this time.  Not this question.

My ears perk up instantly while simultaneously my stomach turns.  No, no, no.  I didn't see this one coming.  Buying myself some time, I respond, "What did you say, baby"?

"What's retarded mean" he repeated.  

As calmly as possible, I ask him where he heard that word.  Please God, don't let someone have called him that.  I have too much on my plate and too many responsibilities to land myself in jail. 

"I was playing a video game with a kid online* and they messed up and then they said, 'I'm not even retarded!', so what does it mean?".  Ever-so-slightly relieved, I explain that it is an offensive word that people who are either lazy or uneducated use to call someone or themselves stupid or slow.  

Okay, probably not the best or most concise definition, but it took all the will power I could muster to not embellish it with expletives or insults.  He countered, "Well, I'm not stupid or slow so I'm not that bad word either!".  "No, you most certainly are not", I acknowledged. 

This one hurts my heart, you guys.  Badly.  It took me days to find the courage to write about it. There are damaging, afflictive words that need to go away with a quickness and this one is tops on my list.  No, I'm not overly sensitive or overtly PC.  

However, I am someone who will contemplate your intellect and character if you use that word.  I hear there are great 'word-a-day' apps or websites that can be used to strengthen your vocabulary.  If you need help locating one, let me know and I'd be happy to help you out.

Isn't it time we teach our children (and I'm looking at you too, adults) respect for all?  Can't we do better?  Yes, yes we can.

*Before you get on my case: Yes, we closely monitor who he plays with online.  Yes, we are sure it was a kid.  No, I don't want your opinion about it.