"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
"The time is always right to do what is right."
-Martin Luther King Jr
When I was pregnant with Livia, a dear dear friend of mine was 2 months ahead of me in her pregnancy. I loved that I had a close friend that was just a couple steps ahead of me in pregnancy. I also loved that when our kids were little, we could share tips, time, and life together with new babies. My friend had a son, Luke, the December before Livia was born. We lived just towns away from one another. It was common for us to get together, have dinner, etc. One particular night, I had gone over to their house before Jake. He met me there later in the evening. When he arrived, my friend Jen and I had Luke and Livia in the bath tub together. They were big enough to sit on their own, laugh, and interact. Jen and I were ohhing and awing at how cute it was that they were in the bath together. I'm sure we even snapped a couple pictures. We joked that we were going to "arrange" their marriage and how we couldn't wait to tease them that they took bathes together. Jake did not find it funny. He made the comment to me that "when will it not be cute anymore?" I couldn't believe he couldn't see how cute and innocent it was that our kids were in the bath together. I thought "what a scrooge!" I wasn't about to listen to his reasoning at the time. He was ruining my moment. I brushed him off and we finished the bath.
We have another friend that has kids around Finley's age. Finley is right in between their daughter and son's age. Finley spends a lot of time with their daughter. During their time together, their son likes to interrupt the girls playing together. Just being a boy, and a brother at that. During a playdate, Finley and the boy kiss! I'm not exactly sure why it happened, but part of me thought.....awe, how innocent and cute. Jake's comment "when will it not be cute anymore?"
Jake is a principal at a local high school. He cares very much for all of his kids and their families. The students are good kids, but in the past he has had to deal with issues like kids stealing, fighting, drugs, dress code, sex, etc. You name it, he's probably dealt with it. It's very unfortunate to hear a lot of stories that he has to tell. So many of the issues he tells me about reflects back on to home life. Not always, but the majority do. Kids learn and live what they know. Bullies are bullied at home. Thieving happens in times of desperation. Kids can be used as decoys when parents need to steal to survive. Teens will cling on to relationships, many physical, when they don't get the attention they so crave from the people that should care the most.
"When will it not be cute anymore?"
This morning, I opened up Facebook to see two people post this newspaper article.
I can picture this child's parents thinking "how cute and innocent!" I can hear them out in their yard with their neighbors saying "hey little Johnny, come here and tell Mr. Rodgers what you just said about Grandma and Grandpa." Or maybe in the grocery store when the parents run into their BFF's, the story is told again from the child's innocent mouth. Each time the laughs get louder and louder, and the child loves the attention he is getting from the story he is telling. I get it. I totally get it.
My sweet friend replied to this post of the"retired" grandparents that this may be offensive to some people (she was totally talking about me!) Comments followed like "sooooo cute," "best jokes are those that are most shocking," "sounds like my grandchild," and my favorite "totally innocent, came from a child's perspective and is innocent. Keep things in perspective." Well, here's some perspective for you. I'm facing my daughter's impending death, every single day. She has a mental retardation, and I don't find anything about this funny. Maybe I've lost some of my sense of humor, but I'm losing my daughter with each passing second. My heart hurts, and to see something like this made light of......in a publication, is not humorous to me.
I will not apologize for what I believe in, and I will continue to defend my daughter and those who are affected by a disability. I am her voice, and I will stand up for what is right because of her, and for her. My husband was right when he brought to my attention "when will it not be cute anymore?" Leading by example to the generations behind us (and sometimes ahead of us), is everyone's responsibility. Standing up for what is right is the solution to so much of what is NOT cute in this world.