The other day, Kyle casually referred to Collin as having special needs and I practically hit the floor. Not that there is any question in my mind that Collin has many, many needs that other babies don't have - it's just that the connotation of that particular phrase is so snide and even cruel that it took the wind out of me to hear it used by my favorite person about my second favorite person. And I immediately flashed back through innumerable generic times when I used similar terms out of total thoughtlessness. I couldn't even claim ignorance since my own beloved Uncle Brian has many of these same 'needs', so it really makes me want to punch my old self in the face.
The look on my face must have been something fierce because Kyle looked confused and sort of scared and ended up explaining that he doesn't associate anything negative with those words anymore - that we don't have to be afraid to use them because they're true and because it is, in a way, special that Collin has so many unique challenges that we have the privilege of helping him face. Our love for him is completely unaffected by his needs - unless it is some way fortified by them - and we can even take a sort of pride in the words because they describe Collin and we are beyond proud of him.
So, the next time you hear someone throwing around these or similar words to be condescending or otherwise mean, kindly write down 'collinthechamp.blogspot.com' for them and explain that you know someone incredible who has special needs.
Right after you punch them in the face.