The year is 1972.
I am a ninth grader at Central Jr High in Findlay , Ohio.
I am a typical boy.
The need to prove I am one of the guys is important to me.
I want to fit in.
I want to be part of the club.
The retards have a classroom in our building.
You know who they are.
A wonderful opportunity to prove that I belong.
That’s what we called him.
He had big lips liked Mr. Limpet.
Every day he wore a tin sheriff’s badge and carried a toy gun.
No post-9-11 worries in 1972.
Why do the retard’s parents send him to school like that?
Don’t they know boys like me lurk in the hallways looking for opportunities to mock and harass their son?
And so I did.
I mocked him and made life miserable for Fish Lips.
So did other boys, but I am the boy I remember.
I was part of the group now.
I hope Fish Lips didn’t mind being the price of admission.
It is 1989.
I am 32 years old now.
I have three children.
I am the pastor of a thriving Baptist Church.
My wife is pregnant with our fourth child.
Our red headed daughter was born on September 1st.
Our first girl.
We are so excited to finally have a girl.
It was not long before we realized something wasn’t quite right with our daughter.
The doctor sent us to University Hospital in Columbus.
A genetic test…
We didn’t need the results.
We already knew…
Our daughter had Down Syndrome.
Her features were mild and the doctor missed all the signs.
We found out she had Down’s the day our second daughter was born.
I had a mentally handicapped child.
All of a sudden I had flashback to 1972.
Visions of a hateful boy persecuting the mentally handicapped, all because he wanted to belong.
I thought of what I would do to that boy if he did what he did then to my daughter now.
I couldn’t undo what I did.
But I could make sure I am never that boy again.
The least of these deserve my protection and care.
They deserve to be who they are without worrying about a boy with something to prove.
I am glad that boy died in 1989.