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The R-Word

May 20, 2010

There are seven pages of definitions for the word retarded on urbandictionary.com. If you’re offended easily, I wouldn’t recommend looking it up.

Here’s the thing: I have three teenage kids and a fourth just about ready to hit the teens. I’ve heard, at various times in the past eight years, pretty much every variation of every definition they included on that site.

The word irritated me long before Katy came along. It means a little more now.

On Tuesday, though, I had a conversation with our (now) 12-year-old son that made me smile. A little background here. I coach Bry’s sixth grade baseball team. And when you spend any amount of time with a bunch of 11-12 year old boys, you hear all kinds of talking, including some terms you’d rather not hear.

Tuesday, on our way back from practice, Bry said one of the kids had told another one of our players that he threw “like a retard.” Not exactly the teamwork thing I’ve been working on. What interested me more though was what Bry said next. “He didn’t say it in front of me, though,” he said. “If anybody says it front of me, I stare at them until they figure it out and change it to another word.”

I asked him if that worked.

Bry’s reply: “They know not to say that around me.”

Can you see the smile on my face as I’m writing this?

This is the kid Shel and I were so worried about when we had Katy. He had been the baby of the family for six years before Katy came along. We didn’t know how he would react with a new baby to contend with.

Bryan and Katy

Love at first sight. Katy smiled at Bryan just a few seconds after this. She pretty much has kept smiling at him ever since.

We shouldn’t have worried.

Have you ever tried to get a kid off of a video game? Kind of like trying to get one of the queen’s guards to move over in Britain. Tonight, Katy was playing on her slide with me when she pointed at a blanket laying over one of the couches.

“I-an.”

“You want Bryan?”

She nods her head yes, so I go searching for Bry. I find him playing Call of Duty on the XBOX Live with a bunch of friends. All I tell him is that Katy’s asking for him. “Guys, I gotta go,” he says. “I gotta go play with Katy. I’ll be back in a bit.” And he’s down the stairs. Just like that. He quit a video game for his little sister.

Can you tell I’m laughing while I write this?

What’s the blanket for? See for yourself:

That’s Bry, ridding the world of the R-Word for his sister, one stare at a time.

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