Wednesday, April 14

Lessons in Etymology, Part Deux (That totally means two. In France. Or somewhere.)

Yesterday I wrote a post titled Lessons in Etymology (etymology is is the study of the history of words and how their form and meaning have changed over time -per wikipedia). And that's totally what I had in mind starting out. Actually, yesterday's post was just a precursor for this one. And yet, even today I didn't get into the actual history of the word I have in mind.

Maybe this'll be my first bloggy mini-series. After all, when you get to the bottom of this post? I'm not even done. Check back tomorrow for more.

Anyway. I ended yesterday's post with this:
...but lately I've been even more aware of the things I say; especially what I say in front of my children...

What I’ve become aware of are not so much the dirty words I say, but the hurtful ones.

I’ve never been comfortable labeling a person as “retarded,” but plenty of situations that don’t go the way I plan, or actions by myself or others have been deemed “retarded.” I have had no great epiphany or life-altering moment, but over the last few months I’ve decided to eliminate that particular word altogether. 

Pre-kids, I worked as an aide at two different schools for kids who had developmental delays and disabilities. Aside from parenting, those were the hardest and most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. I got to work with speech, occupational, behavioral, and physical therapists and the children one-on-one-on-one. I learned so many heartbreaking terms and conditions. And still, I tossed out “retarded” as easily as “what’s up?”
Interestingly enough, a first-rate mommyblogger wrote a first-rate post (CLICK HERE!) about casual use of the R word.  I will pause, wait patiently, and study my cuticles while you go read it. But, she’s pretty mad, and she uses some strong language. Anyway. Go read. I’ll be here.

Ok, thanks for coming back. You did read it, right? You didn’t just bookmark it for future free time reading? You did? Ok… GO READ IT. (She is far more eloquent and passionate about it than I.)

But, no more laissez-faire language 'round here. My protective Mommy Bubble has burst, and my firstborn son has entered the Real World. Thankfully, we have avoided most of the egregious language kindergarteners are sometimes exposed to, but we have had our fair share of talks about Things We Do Not Say.

So, not only have I (mostly, you know, mostly) eliminated the once-thrilling cuss words from my vocabulary, I have now made a decision to remove all traces of people-labeling. No more retarded. No more lame. No more dork. Not even any more stupid-poopy-head-bird-brain. (Besides, "stupid" was a no-no in this house from the get go.)

(weird. another really cool t-shirt from zazzle.)
(also? i didn't even know that 'scene' is a label. what does that even mean?)
(sheesh. kids these days.)

No more name calling, and no more substituting medical conditions for lack of common sense.

Except for that guy who cut me off on Dave Ward Drive today. What a jerkface.



  1. i used to have/still do a little a terrible habit of using the word 'gay' inappropriately...which is unfortunate b/c I fully support the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community/lifstyle choices.

  2. I've been reading more and more from Disability Activists, so I'm working on eliminating "retarded" and "lame." I know many of them would take "dumb" from me too, but I'm not sure I'm ready to give that one up yet.

    My sister and I weren't allowed to say "stupid" as kids, so we made up a substitute. Being good "Little Mermaid Fans," we hated killjoy Sebastian, so Sebastian became our word for stupid. My Papa, who cracks himself up, got a real kick out of this, and still uses the word Sebastian to this day. I hope I never meet someone named Sebastian, because I'm sure I wouldn't be able to contain my giggles.

  3. My youngest sister is mentally handicapped and I regularly used the word 'retarded,' but like you, I use it for situations and sometimes to describe myself when I have 'brain farts.' And while I knew technically, that word had another meaning, it never really bothered me. Until I was at work and we were doing a small focus group and someone else said, "I didn't want them to think my brother was retarded!" That actually hurt, because she was using to refer to someone who has diminished mental capabilities and my sister does. I try not to use it as frequently, but sometimes it slips out.

  4. Let me just say..It was great to meet you today AND sorry I stole the babies pacy! LOL

  5. Let me just say..It was great to meet you today AND sorry I stole the babies pacy! LOL


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