Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Life on the Short Bus

I just did my first 'unfriending' on Facebook. And it hurt. A lot.

I don't just 'friend' anybody. If I have allowed you to look at my life on Facebook, I have very good reason for doing so. However, sometimes relationships come to an impasse. Sometimes you have to let people go.

I got a very acrid message from a "friend" about some of my posts about the r-word and short bus jokes. I'll be straight up: not only do I dislike them, flinging about these words and "jokes" are very painful for me and for my family. You have the right to say them. That's Freedom of Speech. But I was always taught that with every right comes responsibility. You have the right to say anything you want- so take care when speaking. Use your right responsibly. You may have the right to drink, even to excess, but not to then drive a car. Someone could get hurt.

In recent testing, Joey passed the fourth grade end-of year tests for math. He's in the third grade. He can recite the birthdays of every family member, including ones he only sees a few times a year (and a couple he never sees at all). He reads dictionaries and encyclopedias for fun and comfort. So why does my son ride the special needs bus?

Well, because he has special needs. He has trouble with expressive language, so has difficulty telling us what happens to him during the day, and would have difficulty reporting problems he may have with peers. If he got upset, he might try to bolt, and the regular bus stop is around the corner and out of sight of the house, and no one is required to be at the stop to meet the children. In other words, he is on there for his safety.

Why would I feel the need to justify the safety needs of my own child? He's on that bus because it was decided he needed to be on that bus. He gets to school. He's smart as a whip and does good work when he's there. How he gets there should be nobody's business but ours. However, we've entered the moment where every year, a new variable pops up about his transportation: his social situation.

See, making fun of kids who ride the short bus is socially acceptable. Flinging around "retard" and "short bus" jokes is common, pervasive, even encouraged by adults. Joey cannot effectively defend himself from these types of jabs, but he feels them. He knows. Those words and jokes have been levied at him, and he's an easy target. And you know what? Even if my child embodied every single thing such jokes and jabs implied, they would be wrong. And you know why? Because my child would still be a fellow human being. Degrading fellow human beings for your own amusement is not only wrong, it's callous and heartless and cruel.

We teach Joey and Andy the importance of treating others the way they wish to be treated. it is a vital life lesson that so often falls by the wayside.

You can say anything you want. Having a right doesn't make it right.


farmwifetwo said...

I am very pleased with the school the little one now attends. Such behaviour is UNACCEPTABLE by all and that self-contained classroom is simply one of many classrooms in the school. This comes from the Principal and from what I was told on Mon has been the attitude of every Principal in that school since the days the doors opened.

Their home school.... sigh... I was simply lucky that his peers up until he left at Gr 3 looked out for him. That the elder children helped him. I suspect it had more to do b/c he was happy and social, than for any other reason. My eldest son (11) thinks nothing of flinging ignorant comments at us all the time. I suspect he's so use to hearing crap at school, with his lack of emotional attachement and "me, me, me"... it doesn't even register that it's inappropriate. He can't figure out why we don't think it's funny.

Bullying runs rampant no matter where you are or what age. My Dh no longer attends his church due to retirees that have attacked him due to one of his "committees".

I truly believe it's getting worse due to social media, due to the distance we are able to put between us when we communicate, than better.

mommy~dearest said...

Very well said. And also with that Freedom of Speech, we also have the Freedom to Not Have to Listen. And sometimes, that means we just have to "un-friend" people.


christophersmom said...

Did this person know about your son's issues and he/she still insisted that you shouldn't feel hurt by r word and short bus jokes? Unfriending from Facebook was the right way to go, I'd have done the same. I've lost a couple of friendships before to defend my son's dignity and I don't regret it.

Lisa Quinones Fontanez said...

AMAZING POST! Thank you for this. Beautifully written and every word of it absolutely true. I totally agree with unfriending someone on fb over something like this. And I wouldn't give it a second thought. I often worry about children being mean to my son, and in reality I need to think about adults being just as mean. This is a must share, must read post. Lisa

Casdok said...


Shelby Hudspeth said...

I totally agree with your decision, I would have done the same thing! I just don't think that some people think before the speak. I am sure if this issue affected their life they wouldn't be so quick with those "jokes" but even though this issue doesn't touch their lives they should still have a brain in their head!

VioletYoshi said...

Yup, it seems being a sociopath has become the norm in a sense. I'm not saying that many people I see do this, but those who do really must have had a terrible life, to need to pick on the defenseless to feel something.

kristi said...


Leigh said...

I like your last line best.
People forget that.