Here’s where You get to hear me rant a little:
Words are a big deal. Even the tiny little ones that slip out when we fail to think before we speak. Especially the ones that slip out. The words we choose to use to describe others reveal a great deal about our attitudes towards them, and the words that we hear spoken about us from a very young age can influence our perception of self for the rest of our lives.
So if you have “heard that there is a problem with the baby,” or if you feel compelled to ask me “what’s wrong with him?” if you just want to let me know that you’ve been “praying that God will fix his brain” or if you feel like anything you say at all about him must be said in a hushed tone as if it is some terrible secret… Please STOP for a moment and consider that our son is a human being, not a disease or condition. Even an unborn child can hear spoken words, and while they may not yet understand them or tone with which they are spoken, these words set the foundation for how they will come to view themselves in the future.
There is nothing wrong with Zeke. He doesn’t need fixed. His arrival is being anticipated with all the joy and excitement that two parents’ hearts can contain. He is, to us and God, a perfect, unique and beautiful child and that is all that he will ever hear pass our lips. His brain may have formed differently than most people’s, and he may (or may not) face some unique challenges because of it. As he grows, he will show us who he is and what he is capable of accomplishing, and as his parents, we will learn from him and respond by being the best support system we can for him, whatever that means. (which is, after all, what every child needs)
Of course we appreciate that others are concerned for us (which is why I respond as politely as I can when faced with unappropriate comments) and are grateful for all the prayers and kind thoughts that have been sent our way. As Zeke’s parents, we have concerns too. We worry about his health since medical complications are commonly associated with ACC (although all indications have been and still are that he is growing and thriving and healthy!) We worry about challenges he may face (and worry that worrying too much might cause us to label him or limit his potential!) We worry about how others will treat him. Most of all we worry about ourselves and our effectiveness as parents (and work to prepare ourselves, better ourselves, grow, adapt….)
I also understand that many times, well-meaning people simply don’t know what to say. I’m sure I am guilty of sticking my foot in my mouth on more than one occaision (and if you have ever been on the receiving end of any of my unappropriate remarks, I sincerely apologize!)
I simply offer a reminder to THINK before you SPEAK. Make it intentional. Make it a habit. Apologize when you mess up. And maybe someday, this world will be a better place 🙂
While you’re at it, it never hurts anyone to spend some time educating themselves: google “people first language” and spend a few minutes reading what you find. Makes you think….