Birthday Celebrations and The R Word

It has been a while since I have been able to sit down to write a blog post.  We had two birthdays in our house in the last week (Randy’s and Grace’s) and with the holidays approaching, it has been busy.  Ryan has also been battling some stomach issues, but he finally seems to be feeling better.

Last Saturday was Randy’s birthday.  I wanted to share with all of you the card that Ryan came up with for his dad.  I got both Randy’s and Ryan’s permission.  Here is a picture of it.

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Ryan helped me choose the pictures and he spelled out letter by letter his card to Randy.  I had tears in my eyes as he spelled it.  Randy had the same reaction when he received it.

And then he tried to out do himself by this card to Grace.

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Wednesday was Grace’s birthday.  Ryan and I picked up her dinosaur cupcakes at the local grocery store and headed over to her classroom.  Her teacher invited Ryan and me to come and celebrate in the classroom.  I was a little nervous as Ryan really needs one on one supervision and it was going to just be the two of us as Randy could not make it.  We got to the classroom (without dropping any of the 24 cupcakes and 1 gluten free/dairy free one for Ryan) and Ryan was ambushed by several curious first graders.  Grace’s wonderful teacher, Mrs. Scotto, knows Ryan and asked Grace to talk to the class about him prior to our arrival.

Grace told the class that “Ryan has autism and he can’t talk but he understands everything.  He uses a letter board to communicate.  He uses his hand to point to the letters to spell the word.  Ryan can spell anything.”

This is why he was ambushed.  He was a celebrity in their minds, all thanks to his sister, his biggest champion.  They treated him so well.  While they were all eating cupcakes, Ryan spelled:  CALLING IT COOL THAT THEY WANT TO KNOW ABOUT ME.

And then he spelled:  DEARLY CARING EACH DAY I HOPE TO MAKE UNDERSTANDING FRIENDS.

And after the cupcakes were eaten, several of the kids were still following Ryan as they cleaned up.  I wanted to get out of the teacher’s way so that she could get all of the students ready to go.  As we were leaving, I asked Ryan if he had anything else to say to the students.

THANK YOU FOR ACCEPTING ME.

We got home and Ryan was still beaming.  He was so happy.  I asked him his thoughts.

CALLING IT AMAZING.  I AM MEANING TO THANK GRACE FOR ALL OF THE NICE THINGS SHE SAID ABOUT ME.

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Later that day, we had Grace’s birthday party at Altitude Trampoline Park. I had taken the kids once before and that is when Grace had decided that she wanted her party to be there.  Ryan did not love the experience that time because it was rather loud and crowded.

Since it was a Wednesday evening, the place was not as busy.  There were two other parties there, but really, it was a lot less people than the last time that we went.  Ryan took his shoes off and ran right up and started jumping.  He was having a blast.  He usually requires me to jump with him, but not this time.  He was running around and was so happy.

And then he wasn’t.

He came back down after about 10 minutes and sat down and put his Crocs back on.  I grabbed his board and asked him what was the matter.

BALLING (Bawling) ON THE INSIDE.  SO MOM I AM SO SAD BECAUSE SOMEONE CALLED ME RETARDED.

And my heart sank.  I was so angry.  I was looking around, trying to figure out who it could be.  I knew that he was not going to be able to tell me which person.  I did try to ask him but he was only able to say that it was a boy.

I told him that that boy was not raised well and that he was a rude and ugly person.  I told Ryan that he could be upset for a few minutes but then he had to get over it and move on and not let it ruin his night.  I took off my shoes and grabbed him and we went off jumping.

He seemed to perk up.  He seemed happy.  We jumped for a while and then took a break.

“How are you doing now, Ryan?”

SO I AM STILL SUPER SAD ABOUT BEING CALLED RETARDED.

“Ryan, please remember how well you were treated in Grace’s class today! Those kids loved you.  They got to know you.  They treated you with respect because their parents raised them well.  This kid who was ugly and rude must not have good parents.  He was not raised well.  Please try and forget about it.”

But the thing is, that kind of thing stings.  Two days later, Ryan is still upset by it.  I can’t say that I blame him.  He spelled for me today that it was TOO HARD FOR ME TO TALK ABOUT.  I tried to tell him how I was called “Dumbo” when I was a kid because of my big ears, but frankly, that is nothing compared to what he has to endure:  the constant looks, whispers, etc.  I know that he notices.  He can read people very well.

So I guess that I want to leave our readers with this thought:  Please teach your children to respect other kids’ differences.  Please teach humility and tolerance.  Please correct your children if they use the word retarded, even if it is used in a way that seems innocent.  I know that I am preaching to the choir on this one, but it still feels important to write.

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Grace’s 7th Birthday Party.

2 thoughts on “Birthday Celebrations and The R Word

  1. I’m so sorry, Ryan. I feel your pain. We have experienced similar hurtful things here. You are amazing and inspire us all. Those words are always a reflection on who said them. Thanks for your posts. Much love to your amazing family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading this post brings back so many hurtful things I have heard as a child, and as a teacher. It is so hard to understand that parents do not teach their children to be sensitive to others. The only positive to come from this is that Ryan is helping others to become aware. I feel that my “teacher gifts”center around the times I have dealt with these issues.

    Liked by 1 person

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