I was tested ……. And FAILED
Last week while on a business trip, I was sitting at the bar eating dinner and talking with this guy sitting next to me. We discussed our jobs, travel and sports and in particular the World Series. There were a number of us, travel warriors, settling in for Game 1 of the Series. Then it happened, out of the blue and totally unexpected, I was tested.
There we were, talking away, getting ready for the game and I hear this gentleman say “I will show you what a retard I am” as he continued to ask me a baseball related question. The test….. Here was a moment that I knew I would face someday. Since the birth of Shane and Wyatt, after reading the blogs from other parents and after reading and hearing how truly offensive this word can be, I now feel differently about it and it was now my moment to react. I admit, prior to my twins, I didn’t use the word (often) but had no reaction when others did. The test.
This guy probably said this word before and this time was referring to him and did not use it to call out someone else. It is the word; the R-word used anyway IS offensive. It was now up to me to educate him on what this means to others. It was my moment to talk about awareness and special needs, Down syndrome and maybe even what my boys have been through. The ball was in my court, the test. Maybe, this was my opportunity to eliminate this word from being used by one more person for ever. Well, I said nothing. I failed the test. Yes, I felt my blood boil, yes it upset me and yes, shortly afterwards I left. I said nothing.
I have pledged my life to being a force and someday a leader in driving awareness. I have pledged to be a voice and to speak to the issues, educate and advocate for special needs and Down syndrome. I realized this day that although I have come a long way since March there is still so much that I have to learn. I also realize that many of you reading this would have reacted differently and would have said something. This was my first opportunity and I didn’t handle it well and as I went to bed that night I felt as though I let Shane and Wyatt down, I let some of you down and I could not help but wonder what would Rosa Marcellino have said? I will never fail this test again.
A few weeks ago my wife heard someone use the R-word and recently one of our nurses used it as well. Both times, my wife politely said something to them. She has always told me that she has never used the R-word and she will not let anyone say it without saying something to them. She feels that we will always have to the spokesperson for our sons and what is right. This can start with one word or in this case by eliminating one word.
One by one, person by person we can spread this message of awareness. We will have good days and bad and some days we will wish we could have said something or did something differently. OK, maybe I know that I didn’t fail the final test and possibly this was just one quiz in a series of quizzes. I know my final grade will come long after I have left this earth but I do know the next time I will not let you down.