Saturday, June 20, 2009

Advocacy with kids

I talked in my last (super long) post about this week being our church camp for kids. Emma hung with me the 2 days we spent at the church, and the first day I was sitting in on the group Bible time as they presented first just a funny song with puppets then did an actual skit about the story the kids were studying.

I had Emma in her wheelchair sitting in the aisle right next to me since it was her first day with it and we were wanting to see how she does in it. A group of 3-4th grade boys were sitting behind me. First I thought, slip of the tongue. Then I thought, Ok, that's just not right- but then went right into a prayer at the front. But the third time I heard it... I acted.

The kids behind me were saying repeatedly "this is just retarded."

So finally I turned around and quietly said to the three of them "if you continue to use this language, we're going to have a problem." Or something along those lines. I left it at that. Granted, in this program it is very noticeable who the program directors on because we have a different color camp shirt- makes it easier to find us, which is the point. So these boys then knew they'd better straighten up... one of the camp directors called them out.

I knew that they had no idea WHY I didn't want them to say it... to them they may as well have been saying "stupid" or something like that. They didn't get it. But I also didn't have time to address it, and decided at the very least now someone has at least told them at some point in their life that their words are not ones that should be used.

Well... something happened that night that I didn't expect! I was waiting with Kristopher in a line for him to get on one of the jumpy toys at the family fun night and one of those boys got in line behind us. He then said "I remember you, we talked at Bible." Yes, yes we did... Then he said "and you told me not to talk like that because I said retarded." Yep, right again. "So what does retarded MEAN anyway?"

I told him in a sentence or two that all it means is slow, and that some people have a harder time learning things. But, that when he uses the word like he did, it is very mean to those kids that learn slower.

I didn't tell him about my kids- they were off with Mike. I didn't go any further than that... He said "oh, ok" and off they went on the bounce house. But sometimes, advocacy is nothing more than saying "that's not nice" and wow, what an opportunity to make an impression on a young kid- at HIS choosing...


  1. I'm impressed that he asked you about it. One can hope that he will be the kid who influences his friends for the better!

  2. I pretty much had that same conversation with one of Cooper's friends the other day. I said the same thing and that he shouldn't be using words unless he knows what they mean anyway!

  3. Good for you Meredith! I am glad he at least asked so he could get an explanation. You never know, he might put two and two together and figure you were referring to Emma.

  4. I'm impressed he asked you as well. That took courage on his part. And probably a nudge from the Lord. :)