Once you put on your advocacy hat, it never comes off. Ever. It's stapled on, even when the last thing on your mind is education and you let your guard down.
At my pedicure this afternoon, (the 2nd I've had in my life) my pedicurist and I made small chit chat. As expected, the topic was about pregnancy and babies. She had given a pedi to a woman earlier today who was 2 weeks past her due date. I took it as a good sign. She asked if I had ever seen the tv show "I Didn't Know I was Pregnant." She wondered how it is possible that the women didn't know that they were pregnant. "I mean, what are they, retarded?"
I took a deep breath and righted my shoulders. I touched my Trillium pendant and Sophie's beautiful face flashed in my mind. My advocacy hat doesn't come off, not even for pedicures.
I explained how I have a daughter with special needs and she had just used a very cruel word. She apologized and said she knew better. She has a granddaughter with a developmental disability ("officially not diagnosed with anything, she's just slow") who received EI 4 times per week, who didn't walk or make sounds by age 2, who is now in the 3rd grade but is more like a kindergartner. They say it isn't autism and she's doing better, probably because she had so much EI. Maybe she is outgrowing it, she explained.
My mind racing, I had to ask how, as a grandmother to a child with developmental disabilities could she still use that word? How does she feel when others say it around her? She said she doesn't mean it like the "N" word. She means it like... [super long pause that I left hanging in the air like passed gas] Like what, I thought, knowing she probably meant someone just like Sophie. I let her find her own words. Just, you know, stupid. I explained that it is similar to the "N" word in that no matter how it may change over time, you can't take away the history and you never know who you're going to hurt when you use it. For many people, it doesn't just mean stupid. She apologized again and said she really didn't wish to offend me.
Then she went on to blast people from Madison, WI (where she just moved from) for being offended by "anything." I moved here from Madison after living there for years and I loved it there, I told her. She stumbled around saying how neat it was that as a college town you can have so many lefties and righties. Really? Madison?
My toes are a beautiful shade of pink. I bought snickerdoodles on the way home. I'm thinking she'll think twice before dropping the "R" bomb again, or maybe not.
Oh, and I was wearing one of my Buddy Walk shirts today. Sophie's up from her nap and I need her sweet hugs.