Mali Asked Me What "Retard" Means

...because one of her friends at school uses "retard" as a casual pejorative. I suspect she already knew; she is nine after all. But this is an age where one's big kid ability to take in and process information is often at odds with one's little kid assumptions that the world is entirely a good, safe, and happy place. So here is what I told her:
'Retard' is a word used to make fun of people like your brother, people with intellectual disabilities. It is an awful word, and people who know better should not use it.
She asked me what to say to her friend, and I told her she could try the following:
1) 'Retard' makes fun of people like my brother.
2) So it hurts my feelings when you use that word.
3) So please do not use that word.
She'll be home in a few hours. We'll see how it went. And I think I'll have her watch the Not Acceptable PSA, even though it will further puncture her safe happy assumptions bubble.

What would you have said?


Nine, for the Last Time

This little girl turned nine while we were in Mexico last week, surrounded by family plus a chorus of nice waiters who then got attack "abrazos por todos."

This little boy turned nine at a bouncy house place near his home, surrounded by family and friends. We sang him "happy birthday" for the rest of the week by his request.

This little girl turned nine in Cambodia, with just her mother and a chorus of clacking crabs on the dark beach nearby.

And this mother is wistful about her last year of having a little kid. I was reflective during my entire ninth year, mulling over the gravity of transitioning from single to double digits, and wonder if Mali feels the same way.

And I think we were able to give all three of our kids happy and memorable ninth birthdays. The mostly atrophied but still functioning, finger-wagging Catholic part of me hopes they feel as lucky to have such fun celebrations as I feel to be their mom. The rest of me just hopes they remember their ninth birthdays as pretty good days.