Posted in Developmental disability service system

Big Words

An old-fashioned girl and boy, she is older, and she is pointing in his face as though lecturing to him. A caption says, "People think I'm too patronizing. (That means I talk down to people.)"
“People think I’m too patronizing. (That means I talk down to people.)”

So years ago I took a sexuality and relationships class from my developmental disability agency.  The class wasn’t actually half bad and I learned a lot. One of the two instructors, though…

So there’s a bunch of us in the lobby of the building waiting around for class to start.

And they decide to do some kind of introduction to the class down there in the lobby before we go up to the room the class is in.

And there’s two instructors, a woman and a man.  I know the man, he’s okay.  But the lady is one of those people who’s secretly terrified of people with developmental disabilities and masks it with twenty layers of condescension.  And they always think we don’t notice. We always notice.

So she’s talking down to us, and asking us what we expect to learn in the class, and so forth.

And a guy with an intellectual disability very deliberately asks, “Are we gonna learn about cunnilingus?”

She flinches, tries to recover, goes five times as sing-song, and says, “Woowwwwwww, that’s a biiiiiiiiig woorrrrrrrrrrrrrd.”

We were… unimpressed with her, to put it mildly.  And she had no idea what an ass she was making of herself.

Anyway, I wish I could think quicker on my feet, or I’d have quoted Terry Pratchett:

“Hello, little girl,” he said, which was only his first big mistake. “I’m sure you want to know all about hedgehogs, eh?”

“I did this one last year,” said Tiffany.

The man looked closer, and his grin faded. “Oh, yes,” he said. “I remember. You asked all those… little questions.”

“I would like a question answered today,” said Tiffany.

“Provided it’s not one about how you get baby hedgehogs,” said the man.

“No,” said Tiffany patiently. “It’s about zoology.”

“Zoology, eh? That’s a big word, isn’t it.”

“No, actually it isn’t,” said Tiffany. “Patronizing is a big word. Zoology is really quite small.”

-Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men (exchange between a girl named Tiffany and a wandering teacher trading knowledge for food)

As it is, I think we all settled for rolling our eyes and the like, which our instructor of course missed entirely.   Just like she missed the point of the guy choosing a word like cunnilingus when being talked down to…