Last Tuesday, one of my friends called L "Special Ed". As in, "Don't worry, I don't mind taking care of Special Ed kids."
(Background: L is 2, so he's not any kind of Ed. He is un-Ed. But two years from now, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will go to a typical classroom with the other 4-year-olds. He is not developmentally delayed. He just has seizures.)
I mumbled something about L not being "Special Ed" but I couldn't put my finger on exactly why it bothered me. Everybody knows you don't call someone by their diagnosis (or in this case, the program they qualify for), so there was that. But it was something else. It's still on my mind 6 days later.
I wasn't offended that she thought Lennon was mentally retarded. I don't even think she actually did. I think she meant "special needs" and was just careless with her language. And I guess L's seizures do qualify as a special need, though I hardly feel like I can claim that title. I know others who are facing much more, who need much more support. It's like a stutter, or color blindness, or being tone deaf. It's real, and it impacts our daily lives, but it isn't that pervasive.
But what if she did mistakenly think L was developmentally delayed? Or what if L really was? Even though that isn't what you spend your pregnancy lying awake praying for, if he did have a developmental delay, that would be our life and it wouldn't be the end of the world. So that wasn't what bothered me, either.
But if my friend -a caring person in general- was willing to reduce L to a program she thought he would one day be a part of, without even knowing his full story, who's to say what kind of comments he's going to have to deal with in the future? That's what was bothering me. How can I raise him to shrug off senseless comments without letting them get to him, if I can hardly manage it myself?