When normal ain’t normal…

Is it just me, or has their been an abundance of news stories as of late relating to individuals with Down syndrome? These stories are getting a lot of attention in social media circles…but for (what I think) is the wrong reason.
Today we had this piece floating around…garnering a lot of “LIKES”:

Meet Madeline Stuart

My first reaction upon seeing this headline was “Great!”.

Then I got to the part where the mom says she wants people with Down syndrome to be seen as “sexy”, I cringed a little. I think it’s great to represent and mainstream individuals with Down Syndrome. Increased media exposure helps our society adjust to seeing these people as just normal folks. Seeing these same individuals as sexy bugs me a bit because of consent. I call my daughters “beautiful”, but not “sexy”. It becomes creepy like a pageant mom to me at that point. Just me.

I do think she’s a beautiful girl, I love her confidence and fearlessness. I hope she gets tons of wholesome, catalog work.

Many individuals with Down syndrome are vulnerable throughout their lives. To see them as “sexy” is just a whole new way to objectify them and perhaps victimize them.

Another piece making the rounds the last few weeks was this seemingly sweet headline:

Pennsylvania QB take friend with Down syndrome to prom

What kind of monster wouldn’t find this story endearing and sweet? Well, me. A little.

What this boy did is nice. It’s not heroic. It’s not so out of the realm of “normal” behavior that it warrants national attention, is it? I’m irked that being a decent human being has become exceptionalism in our society. This girl didn’t have ebola. He knew her since childhood. This story reminds me a bit of this “news” item that went around last year before the holidays about the cop who gave a homeless man a pair of boots. How heartwarming. A policeman does something kind. Shocking!

That ain’t news folks. That’s what should be expected. Kindness. Humanity. Helping others. Thinking of the needs of others.

When each person with Down syndrome goes to prom, or graduates high school, makes the swim team, or does something completely normal and it’s national news, we are missing this point of acceptance and inclusion. Sure, these are great moments in anyone’s life, and yes, I know how hard this little girl worked to make the cheerleading squad (as did all of her older sisters), but when we put them on a pedestal and award them with (albeit fleeting) fame, we make it seem miraculous that they were able to accomplish this.

Now try to convince people that your child with Down syndrome is really just like everyone else.

Didn’t your prom photo get 27 million likes?

When other parents scare me

I try, oh do I try, to never ever judge other parents. But parents, we need to talk. Some of the things you post on social media really make me cringe. Some of the things you post make me feel very sorry for your children.

And I’m trying not to judge.

I’m a member of a few online parenting groups (which are probably 99% moms, with dads rarely represented.) Some groups are very general, open-to-all type groups, some are based upon our proximity, some are based upon our child’s likes or special needs…it pretty much covers the gamut.

For the most part, I like the tips and hacks (though I hate that word; “hacks”), the photos of your child reaching a milestone, the pertinent news items, the jokes and anecdotal stories. I am a pretty frequent commenter; happy to share my ideas or experiences that will hopefully help someone else.

goingbald
Stress? Genetics? A velcro pillow case? A thyroid condition? Normal baby-hair shedding? I give up. …and in the case of parenting, it would seem you have as well.

But there’s a few of you moms out there who mistakenly believe that an internet forum is a safe group of close-knit friends where you can really let all the intimate details of your life fly, oh, and you are also convinced we are a medical community of highly skilled doctors and medical practitioners, who can make a sound medical diagnosis based upon your loose description and a blurry photo you snapped with your iPhone.

Horrifyingly, I saw a post from a mom who asked the group what to do because her baby “is panting and has a fever of 104°”.  Very quickly, loads of comments told her to step away from the computer and get to an ER. The post was removed a short time later by an admin, no doubt because some shocked women really tore into that mom.

dentist
Let me get this straight, you are inquiring if we fellow parents, agree that you should CONTINUE to neglect and postpone dental care for your child? Does it matter what we say?

I mean, I HOPED better for us, as women. It’s one thing to have a horribly “off” day..it’s quite another thing to post it on the Internet and look for support. Women, are we listening to ourselves?

I know it’s wrong to look down on the mom who is wearing fleece Paul Frank pajama pants when she drops her kid off at school. I wouldn’t judge that. That lucky mom maybe gets to work from home. Maybe she’s caring for a sick family member. I don’t know, and it’s none of my business. And only a dick would judge a person who is using food stamps or WIC. Also none of my business. Going to a strange church? Nope. Don’t care. Vote Republican? Vote Democrat? Nope. None of these things would ever make me judge you or not want to be your friend if you are a decent person.

I have been to General Practitioners who've sent me to a Dermatologist for rashes that didn't look this bad. Yet with no tests and no medical history, this virtual room full of liberal arts dropouts are going to nail this diagnosis.
I have been to General Practitioners who’ve sent me to a Dermatologist for rashes that didn’t look this bad. Yet with no tests and no medical history, this virtual room full of liberal arts dropouts are going to nail this diagnosis.

But…there is a line.

When I feel concern for your kid, that’s the line. When you share that your child is suffering, and the only effort you can muster to help them is to post their photo and broadcast their suffering,  I feel for your child. Do you really want to help them, or are you doing it for the attention? For the “likes”? Are these social media parenting groups are just a secret convention for Munchausen syndrome?

Please. Please. In the name of all that is holy, if your child has a medical condition that concerns you (upset tummy, snotty nose, itchy rash), call your local clinic. Ask to speak to a nurse. This trained and experienced medical worker will let you know if a doctor should take a look. If it’s more serious and the child is having a fever, a headache, a large area rash, neck pain, diarrhea and/or vomiting, put them in the car and get to the doctor.

Social media parent groups are great for sharing tips, funny photos, news…even a story about your trip to the doctor…but please, don’t use them for obtaining a medical diagnosis if something has you worried. Be a good proactive parent, lest ye be judged.

That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

Today I unfriended someone who was never a friend. I never knew Sue, have never met her face to face. We just have several mutual facebook “friends”. Somewhere at sometime, we became facebook friends. This reminds me, I need to go through and thin out the ‘friend’ list to remove those I don’t really know know. What was I thinking?

But I digress.

Like religion, politics is one of those things you need to figure out for yourself in life if you can really and truly commit to it. I’ve voted for pretty much any party you’ll see on a ballot at one time or another in my life. I’m now some limbo-dwelling Independent, who hopes for the best, tries to “judge” politicians as individuals, and mostly keeps her eye rolls and beliefs to herself. I don’t care for folks who are spouting off their political viewpoint any more than I care for religious people who are constantly bringing up their personal faith. These things are just diversions and crap people like to fight about, and really believe that the other side is evil, and only they have the solution. “Don’t believe us?” You’re either ruining this country or going to hell. Sometimes, if you’re particularly egregious, (i.e. gay, or in a teacher’s union, for example),  the fact you are going to hell is also ruining this country.

I’m not anti-religion or anti-government, I just believe civility begins by avoiding conflict. I like peace, what can I say? I like to think about things a lot, and talk about them a little.

So when Sue came up on my personal facebook feed today, I was taken aback by the term “libtard”. Obviously, this is their poor taste attempt and mocking left-leaning individuals, and lumping them in with the now-deemed uncool word “retard”. As though they are mentally deficient to hold their political views. Fine. I get it. “Teabaggers” is nasty too, and makes me cringe a little because of my previously stated thoughts on CIVILITY.

But the word “tard”, or “retard”. Ugh. Why? Why pick the one marginalized group in our society that cannot defend themselves and mock their disability? Oh, because you don’t mean one person in particular, you are dehumanizing everyone with your speech! Touche!

Calling someone a “retard” or another witless form of that, (celebutard, Biebtard, etc.) is mocking individuals like my daughter. You are implying that her opinion and personhood have little or no value. In short, people like her are a joke to you…so just combine the suffix “-tard” with a group or people you wish to ridicule, and let the hilarity commence! How fun!

So here goes. I only post one comment, then unfriend her, but facebook still sends me updates when someone posts to this thread.

I hope William isn't being sarcastic, but I'm feeling gun-shy at this point.
I hope William isn’t being sarcastic, but I’m feeling gun-shy at this point.

So Sue is conservative. She was once affiliated with the Libertarian party, which is why we have mutual friends. She once ran for MN Governor as a Republican. She has a local radio show. But now that William DeBerg has mentioned “libtard” is offensive…someone else is bound to call this out, right?

Let’s continue…

...and the attacking of the William begins. Why?!
…and the attacking of the William begins. Why?!

Now William is admonished to get over it. Apparently his feelings don’t matter in this. Hopefully he’s unfriended Sue by now too. And I don’t know you, but Sue Dettmann Feifert, are you raising bullies? How could you feel so slighted and annoyed by his comment that you are offended? You feel like you’re in junior high? Pure hyperbole nonsense. Gary calls him a skirt and panty wearing man, which we can only see as a slam on his sexuality. MEN don’t get offended by nuttin’.

Surely someone in this feed has sense?
Surely someone in this feed has sense?

I resisted preaching; pasting in something like this long post. Instead, I just wanted to say “Hey, it’s offensive, here’s more about that.”

Why yes, Jeffrey, I AM in fact offended by the n-word. I don’t know that Al Sharpton uses that word, but I don’t really pay much attention to him. It’s a horrible word. Since you brought it up, I’m glad you caught the similarity, because they are both hate speech. More importantly perhaps, show some civility.

Sue Dettman is back to remind us we’re wimps for being offended and faking offense for attention.

I unfriend you.

Happy Monday.