So, ummm, that letter I sent to that person who (repeatedly) dropped the R-word on us recently. She got my letter and left a voice mail message a couple days ago saying that she wanted to get together with us to talk about it. So we got together with her this afternoon. I went back and forth with myself for the last couple of days as to whether to bring Finn with us or not. She had never met him, and there was a part of me that wanted to put a face to the whole issue for her - to show her that at the center of this is a flesh and blood baby. But another part of me worried that it might be too in-her-face and obnoxious (even though obnoxious would not be my intent). The former won out and I took him with us.
I was very nervous before our meeting today. Even knowing that I wasn't in the wrong, personal confrontation is just very hard. It's one thing to call people out on the internet; it's another thing entirely to confront someone face to face when there is an actual relationship at stake.
A lot of people I have talked about this with have declared indignantly that "She owes you an apology." But an apology wasn't what I was after. An apology means nothing unless it's backed up with some genuine understanding of the issue at hand and an intent to change future behavior. That's what I wanted: for her to get it. And to convince me that she gets it.
And I think she does. I'm not going to rehash our entire discussion here, but she did say that "retard" was a word that was widely used and accepted back in her day (she's in her 60s), and that clearly, she understands that it's time to update that. How she has made it this far without realizing that - and in her particular line of work, especially - is a little mind blowing, but I think she was being sincere. The main thing is that she gets that it's hurtful and hateful language, and that it affects real people. And she herself made the point that not only should she be mindful that her audience may be someone touched by Down syndrome, but using language like that in any setting only perpetuates acceptance of that sort of language. So I do believe that she genuinely gets it. And that's what I really wanted.
So I am pleased with the outcome of all this. And I'm glad we took Finn along. Because who can resist him?