Sunday, October 27, 2013

A missed opportunity

This is one of those posts I never intended to publish.

I have given up journal writing in the name of blogging. You can read about that decision here. Sometimes, I write posts intended as journal entries that are never published, but simply words I must get out of my head.

This is one of those.

On Saturday, Brian and I had the opportunity to go to the Alabama versus Tennessee football game. We met in Bryant Denny Stadium, and take every opportunity to go back and cheer on the Tide. Especially against a rival like UT.

We were running late, as is typically the case.
We stopped at Taco Casa before the game.
With a sweet tea in one hand and my sweetheart's hand in the other, we were walking and talking.

Our strides were quick. Our conversation was not.
I was in my element. Alabama may have won National Championships in Football, Golf, and Softball, but people watching is the sport in which I invest most heavily.

As Brian and I strode to the stadium, I was sucked into another couple's conversation. The man was loud. You could tell he prided himself on telling a good story. He had a captivating voice. His dialect was mesmerizing. As a teacher, he had everything I try to teach my students - about intonation, and pitch, and eye contact.

I listened as he spoke. He had a punch line. And it was a good one.

Then his story changed to one about his sister. Apparently, she too, is a teacher.

My long legs were on a mission.
Get us to the stadium before kickoff.
And they were far from failing.
We were moving.
But his next words stopped me.
Right there on Paul Bryant Drive.
As I heard the words of the Bear echoing from the stadium,
other words were piercing my soul.
Wrenching my gut.
The tears were instant.

I never knew words could hurt so intensely.
So instantly.
My stride, like my spirit, was broken.

He said, "She's a teacher. She teaches the retards."

And after that, I heard nothing else. The crimson and white that was clouding my vision was interrupted with visions of my Baker.

The world moved on without me.
I was reeling.
The tears burnt.
They were hot coals against my wind blown cheeks.

I should have stopped him.
I should have told him about my Baker.
I should have stopped him from using those words that hurt deep down to my very core.

As the distance between us lengthened, I replayed the scene. I practiced the words I should have said. I rehearsed with the fervor of an A List actor. I had it down. I knew the picture I would have shown him. The one with Baker's smile so sweet, his little Chiclet teeth beaming back at me. The one what causes a love so instant. The one that makes you want to jump through the phone and kiss his rosy cheeks. The one that makes you forget there is any wrong in the world. The one that captures all the sweetness and love and joy in pixels so precious.


"Lord, please. Please. Please give me the opportunity to see him again. Lord, please give me the opportunity to share with him my heart. I want him to see a picture of Baker. I want to help him understand that his words hurt. That I know he didn't really mean what he said. That there are more socially acceptable words to say now. That I know his sister is making a profound impact on the special needs community. Lord, let me save him from hurting other mamas like he hurt me."

We walked to the stadium.
In silence now.
My long steps were replaced with robotic ones.
Our tickets were submitted.
Drinks were bought.

And then I saw him.

I started shaking so profusely. And crying big sobbing tears. The Lord answered my prayer and I cowered. I succumbed to the solace of the restroom stall. With conversation around me drowning my tears, I kicked myself for missing the opportunity that I so desperately begged for.

This is why I decided to publish this post. I need you.

If you see him, will you?
Will you tell him all of the things I couldn't?
For Baker, will you?
Will you show him Baker's picture?
When you hear that r word, will you make the difference I couldn't?
Will you?
Will you take advantage of the opportunity I missed?
Will you?


  1. Oh, jennifer, I'm so sorry. It stings! It hurts! It makes me sad - sad for our precious boys, sad for these individuals and their limited view on the children who bring so much joy and happiness.

    I'm going to post this on my blog if that's okay.


    1. Thank you, friend. Please share. I'd be honored.

  2. How anyone could use the "r" word I am not even sure. Especially in this century. I see those beautiful bright smiles without a care in the world when I see these precious babies. I'm not a teacher, but I am a Mom and Grandmother. Don't beat yourself up. The fact that you have a heart of gold and wanted to speak out to this person, shows if it should ever happen again you will not miss the opportunity to teach that person a very valuable lesson. God Bless You.

  3. First time commenting, from a random reader. I'm a fan of your way with words, big emotions, and faith (not to forgot, your beautiful son, of course!) This is a fantastic post, especially the last few lines. I will certainly tell him when I see him that using that word is NOT ok. Also, don't be too hard on yourself. Surely there's a reason that your angels kept you from going over and speaking to him again...perhaps he would've gotten rowdy and the situation might've escalated; you'll never know. It was hardly a missed opportunity because you learned, reflected, and wrote this astounding message to your readers. And now you know for sure that you'll have the gumption to say something the next time someone insults your son. :)

  4. Jennifer I so hear you! I will tell him! I promise for you, for your beautiful Baker and for my beautiful daughter.

  5. May you be blessed beyond measure by Baker.