If there was ever a question I absolutely abhor hearing, that would be the one. [Notice, I used abhor, not hate, not dislike, but abhor – extreme repugnance or aversion; to detest utterly; loathe – get the idea?] This one simple question can cause so much damage and most don’t even know it.
Let me first make clear, I don’t care what other people think or have to say about my kid. It doesn’t make US treat him any differently, love him any less, or change his plan of care. Kids, however, are another story. Sure, he’s not old enough now to understand the inquisitive eyes, but one day he’ll see just how cruel the world is and wonder what’s really going on. We took Braxton out a few times over the weekend after his surgery, and you would NOT believe the ugly looks he got. While I may just be mostly venting here, maybe you can take away a lesson in tact and teaching yourself or your children how to really be tolerant of people who are different. Be it a different race, different religion, or different abilities, everyone deserves to be treated equally.
At first glance, most wouldn’t know that Braxton has any kind of special needs. Add on a g-tube extension, some hearing aids and some bandages covering his hands up to his elbows and voila, Braxton is a freak of nature. At least that’s what so many make it seem like when we take Braxton out. The stares, the judgmental eyes, the gaping jaws, the whispering conversation that ceases the second inadvertent eye contact is made; they are all silently questioning “What’s wrong with that kid?” For the brave few who actually ask, my skin just crawls and I literally want to punch them in the face or at the very least give them the verbal lashing they deserve for asking such a loaded question. Sure, it seems innocent enough, but do you know what the question entails? “What’s WRONG with him?” There it is, that glaring, nasty word…WRONG. It has such a negative connotation and carries with it so much judgment.
Dictionary.com defines “Wrong:”
Wrong: adjective 1. not in accordance with what is morally right or good 2. deviating from truth or fact; erroneous 3. not correct in action, judgment, opinion, method, etc., as a person; 4. not proper or usual; not in accordance with requirements or recommended practice 5. out of order; awry; amiss — noun 8. that which is wrong, or not in accordance with morality, goodness, or truth; evil
Synonyms include: bad, evil, wicked, sinful, immoral, iniquitous, reprehensible, crooked, inaccurate, incorrect, false, untrue, mistaken. improper, unsuitable. misdoing, wickedness, sin, vice, maltreat, abuse, oppress, cheat, defraud, dishonor.
While some may have good intentions, there is nothing thoughtful about any part of that definition. Particularly, the parts about not being in accordance with what is morally right or good. So, to ask “What’s WRONG?” [whether aloud or with questioning eyes] implies that there is something NOT right about my son, something that defies morality and a particular way of life. Implies that there IS in fact a “right” way to be and my son isn’t it. WRONG: it’s such a harsh and judgmental word that has no business being used in the same sentence with my son, or with anyone who is “different” for that matter. Special needs children are NOT freaks of nature. There is no need to stare, point, snicker, whisper, or degrade them simply because they are not what you would consider “normal.” What’s “normal” anyway? It’s a preconceived notion that may differ for everyone based on life experience. Your “normal” is not at all my “normal” and NEITHER of them is more right than the other. We should all learn to be tolerant of one another. Just because you don’t understand another’s way of life or disability doesn’t mean you should belittle them or treat them with complete disrespect, they are PEOPLE. People with the exact same feelings and emotions that you have, and you probably wouldn’t like it very much if someone went around looking at you crazy or questioning whether or not your existence was in accordance with morality.
*steps off soapbox* Carry on.