4 posts categorized "Language"

Down with the 'R' word (of course! But how?)

October 23, 2012

I'm the mother of a kid with Asperger's, and dear friends who have kids with Down Syndrome. I've watched as our cultural relationship to children with minor and major developmental disabilities has changed; when I was in high school, the students who were friends with the kids in the classroom behind the cafeteria were looked on with a mixture of awe and utter incomprehension. It was something like sainthood: lovely, admirable, but most couldn't see themselves on that path. But now, it's not unusual for children with Down Syndrome to be beloved by their classmates, and the ones with the kind of dear social ineptitude I sometimes see in my own child, tolerated with kindness. I've had conversations with the high schoolers I coach about the "r" word. All agree, it's totally uncool. I've watched my kids interact with children who have a variety of disabilities, and it's just a thing. Something that is, and is not to be pitied, or belittled, and does not detract from the coolness of the kid.

We have a harder time in my house with that word. My husband's family grew up in what seems to me to have been a lot of bigotry. (It was probably not unusual for the time, but my current context makes a stark contrast.) I'm often left correcting my brother-in-law for his use of the "r" word, or some similarly unacceptable cultural slur. I know he doesn't really mean any of this, and my kids are savvy enough to know that it's not o.k. just because their uncle says it, but it still rankles. I often pull him aside and have the talk with him, this is his nephew he's slurring, and the boys' friends -- he apologizes, promises to work harder. I get it. It's hard to undo that kind of aculturization.

I tend to forgive my brother-in-law. But I can't really forgive someone like Ann Coulter. That's why this post was incredible -- it took Ann to task for her slur, and yet, forgave her. (I want to see her fired, and her audience ripped from her, honestly.)

I keep thinking, oh how far we've come! And then something like this happens -- our President called the R-word by someone with a huge platform, who is paid well for her bombast -- and I think, oh dear. We Americans are still those people. We're still the bigots.

Can we change? Can we do like our children are doing already? How common is the Coulter sort of aculturization? Is Portland a bubble of peace and love? If it's a bubble, it's a bubble I'm happy to live in -- but I so look forward to the way forward. Do you ever hear the "r" word, or is it going away in your world too?

Seeking Japanese Class Suggestions

October 12, 2011

An urbanMama recently emailed:

We're looking for a west-side Japanese class or tutor for our seven-year-old daughter. She's taking classes at Bodhi Tree in SE Portland now, but we're moving across town and she would really like to keep it up.

OOPS! "Go the f**k to sleep" on the table

September 14, 2011

We received a copy of the book "Go the f**k to sleep" and I nonintentionally left it on the dining room table.  Of course my 7-year old picked it up and eagerly offered to read it to her toddler brother.  "Let's read this book!" in her big girl excited voice.  She read "Go the ffff....", then: "Mom, what does this say?"  Quickly, I grab the book and say, "Wait!  That's not for kids."  I put it out of reach.

Have you seen the book, read it?  Will you read it to the kids, bleep out the f-bomb, or maybe read it to them, explicit word and all?  (Related: "I say '$h*t', you say 'sugar'.")

Seeking Hindi or Gujarati Lessons

March 18, 2011

An urbanMama recently emailed:

We are a NE family consisting of a cultural mutt (me) and a wonderful  half English/half Indian (my husband).  We embrace all aspects of our combined heritage but identify closely with the Indian side of the family.  However, my husband was never taught his father's language of Gujarati or the national language of Hindi growing up.  I am a strong believer in 2nd language education for kids from a very early age and I would very much like my children to have the chance to learn either Hindi or Gujarati (or both).  I even went so far to take a year of Hindi myself to try to learn enough to speak a little to them - that didn't last long.  I'm wondering if anyone in the urbanMamas community is aware of a school, a tutor, an organization - anything that offers these languages specifically for kids.  I would even conisder a nanny/household helper that spoke so that we could all be immersed in the language from time to time. 

Does anyone have any suggestions?