Phil and several of you challenged me to blog – so here goes!
I am so moved by the comments we’ve received about the film, my children and our family – I can’t even begin to express it. I, too, am grateful for the wonderful Deedah “shout out” from the incredible Kelle Hampton. What I love so much about Kelle is her ability to, not only inspire, but to also, “keep it real.” She has a great sense of humor that will serve herself, her children and now so many others well through her blog.
The fact that her favorite part of Deedah is when Jonathan says “s**t” puts a huge smile on my face! I, do, however, have to correct the record because my child’s salty vocabulary is actually not as sophisticated as Kelle’s blog entry gives him credit for. The actual word that Jonathan says in the film is “Dam*it”, which just so happens to be an abbreviated version of my profane phrase of choice – “G** Da**it!” Yes – another proud parental moment!
I don’t have to wonder whether Jonathan picked up that word on the playground or at a friend’s house or at karate because “GD”- just like my father before me- happens to be the phrase I use on the rare occasions I go nuclear and you’re wise to clear the room. I think I’ve said it in front of my children twice and clearly that was all it took for Jonathan to embrace it as his own.
The day the camera was rolling on the miniature golf course and he unleashed the D-bomb was, as far as I know, also the last time he said that word. (He only needed to be told once – “Say that word again and we’re going home.” ) But although he was reprimanded for using the word, of course, as a parent, I had to chuckle. And as a parent of a child with Down syndrome I had to chuckle and then smile with the knowledge that I had captured on camera what I think of as “Down syndrome Gold.” That’s because our children are often so stereotyped that I sometimes feel when people are describing them – (and it is almost always well-meaning and so I’m not trying to be negative here.) But when people say, “Those children are ‘so loving’ and sweet and cuddly, etc…” I sometimes feel like they’re describing a golden retriever puppy and not my son.
For Jonathan, like all children, has his golden retriever moments to be sure, but he also has his Doberman days. (Great – now I’m stereotyping DOGS!!!) Anyway, what I hope the “Da**it!” does is show that our children with Down syndrome are individuals, who are as capable of displaying their emotions and frustrations as the next kid.
As for why we bleeped out the D-word, leaving it to the viewer’s imagination, we found in early screenings of Deedah that the word got such a knee-slapping response that people (especially children) were laughing so hard that they missed the next part of the movie. We also had a response from a local principal who was willing to show Deedah to her entire school, including parents, but was concerned that a few parents might have problem with the D-word. Although I was initially a bit resistant, (stop censoring my art, man! :-)) it surely makes perfect sense that no principal wants to take a phone call from an irate parent saying, “why did Susie learn a new word in school today that certainly wasn’t on her weekly vocabulary list?”
We agreed to bleep out the “Da** it!” in the final version of the film because one of our goals is to show Deedah to school children, school staff members and parents. We were grateful for that local principal’s willingness to show the film and we didn’t want one possibly offensive word to prevent that from happening. That’s how the “Da**-it- less” Deedah came to be.
So here we are – more than a year after the “Da**-it!” clip was shot. I’m happy to report that Deedah, thanks largely to Kelle, is gaining traction. Since the miniature golf meltdown, Jonathan has added more choice words to his vocabulary. He is particularly fond of “Dang it” right now, which I find irritating but I guess, at this point, is a reasonable compromise if used in moderation. He is also partial to the word “awkward,” so much so that at one point this summer I threatened to start charging him 25 cents for every time he said it.
As for “S**t”, I will join Kelle in saying that that is still a goal for Jonathan, as it is now for Nella. Jonathan’s speech has improved astronomically since the film was shot, but alas, we are still working on the “sh” blends. I know for a fact he couldn’t have said “s**t” when the film was shot because just the other day on the way to karate, he was looking at cloud formations in the back of the minivan. He shouted out, “Look mom , a camel and a sip.” “A what?” “A sip!” “A WHAT?” “A SIP – A PIRATE SIP!!!” And looking up at the clouds I saw it – a huge two humped camel standing right alongside at pirate sHip.
Oh – s**t – I’m so proud !