My Special Kids

My life these days centres completely around my special needs children, Ethan, Emma and Eysiah.

They came in the second ‘shift”, adopted when I already had four ages 5 and up. At the time I didn’t know what I was doing, I was an idiot probably, starting over just as I got my youngest in school, but it was divine intervention and I will tell you about that next time. For those who do not believe in fate, or in prayers being answered, well I just might change your mind.
So without these three, I would be suffering a terminal case of empty nest syndrome. Given that I was an only child and really enjoyed that, you would think I would relish my solo existence once the kids were gone and the husband too (to greener pastures with a girlfriend older and uglier than me…love how that worked out).
But once you get used to cooking for eight every night, or inventing a sock-bin because there are too many people, twice as many socks and no way of possibly sorting that out other than a grab basket that seldom produced a match but at least produced two socks to keep your feet from stinking up your shoes (not mine, but my sons for sure) it is just impossible to go back. I cannot think of anything worse than coming home to an empty house, cooking for one, never running out of toilet paper or milk or gas and not being able to blame anyone but me.

But I am blessed. Not only do I have three young people who adore me, who light up my life, who complete me more than anyone knows, but I have a daughter and two sons who the world considers “different”, “handicapped”, who some people in the world call nasty names and think they are worth less than “normal people.”

Some morons call them retarded.

What’s wrong with the word “retard”? As recently as the 1970s, the word was acceptable in medical fields, even the Arbutus School for Retarded Children existed in Campbell River and was the start of something great, the Association of Community Living and Our Place.

People with intellectual disabilities say that the “R-word” makes them feel left out, different, bad, stupid, and despised. Words hurt.John Franklin Stephens, a man from Virginia with Down Syndrome who serves as a “global messenger” for the Special Olympics has written op-ed articles giving lucid voice to thoughts you may never have heard before.
“The hardest thing about having an intellectual disability is the loneliness,” he once wrote in The Denver Post. “We are aware when all the rest of you stop and just look at us. We are aware when you look at us and just say, ‘uh huh,’ and then move on, talking to each other. You mean no harm, but you have no idea how alone we feel even when we are with you.”
“So, what’s wrong with ‘retard’?,” he asked. “I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the ‘in’ group. We are someone that is not your kind.”
Very bad words go beyond the boundaries of political correctness. There are words you cannot say ever. They are humanly incorrect. They are meant to harm. They break the heart and the spirit.
Language should be used to inspire, to welcome, to open doors for us, not to degrade, dehumanize, isolate and slam doors in our faces.      By changing one word you can change a life.

And as far as I am concerned these kids bring brilliance to the world. They are the role model for humanity. They are always happy, they are always giving, they don’t judge anybody, they are not capable of bullying or bigotry or hurting feelings. They love. I am their mother. How lucky am I?

Until next time….strive for fabulous.

Sian Erith Thomson

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