Okay, soooo the other day I was a small petting zoo with my kids. The kids were having a fantastic time petting the baby goats when a little friend came over to where Eliza and I were standing. She is very excited, grabs Eliza’s hand and says, “Do you know you can adopt a baby goat here!”
Eliza looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, proudly, “I adopted too, right mommy? Like a baby goat!”
I smiled…and my heart sank just a bit. (No actually, not like a goat at all.)
She and her friend laughed, and off they skipped to see if they could find out more about adopting a goat.
I was left wondering how long would she laugh at this? Being adopted like a farm animal…Maybe always, maybe not….
“It’s only a word for God Sake!” I can hear it now. That would have been me a few years back as well.
I always promised myself I wouldn’t become one of those crazy, over the top, annoying, politically correct parents. I think we should all laugh more, not take others or ourselves too seriously. Life is funny, people are strange. Who cares if someone says adopt a pet, a goat, a dog? Really? What does it matter? Oh boy, I guess it now matters to me.
The personal becomes the political.
My child is not a pet or a zoo animal. “Adopting” a goat or a dog (and I know there are dog lovers out there) is not the same. When did society switch from saying, “help us sponsor a goat” or “Come and get a pet from the shelter today? Is everything in the world worthy of the word adoption? Did we actually think we were insulting the animals to use the words sponsor, bought or get? (Hush! Fluffy might hear you!).
We are not animals and, surprise, dogs are not humans! Do we really think dogs or goats know what words we use? No, they don’t, but children do.
Words matter. A few weeks back I was at a restaurant with my older daughter. The waitress brought me my soup but forgot a spoon, so when she came over and asked how the soup was I said, “I don’t know you forgot to get me a spoon.”
She threw her head back, laughed and in a very loud voice exclaimed, “OH MY GOD I am soooooooooo RETARDED!!”
My daughter and I both sort of sat there in shock. “Wow,” I thought, “What if my child had Down syndrome or some other cognitive disability and I was sitting there hearing that?”
The personal becomes the political. Here is a great article that was on NPR about this very subject, titled, “Rethinking Retarded: Should It Leave The Lexicon?” (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112479383).
Read it, it will make you think.
I am not perfect; I put my foot in my mouth constantly. I don’t want to be one of those people that everyone has to be extra cautious around, or for people to think I am easily offended. I am not. We all need to laugh at ourselves and the politically correct movement has gone over the top in many ways (which is why Borat was such an awesome film!).
I am not going to hold it against someone when they say, “Oh, look, its adoption day at the animal shelter” but I know, inside I will wince a little bit. I guess what I am saying is: words count. What we say influences how we think and how others think. So just try and choose wisely, I know I will.
The personal is the political.