end the R-word

End the R word.

This is Gelli. I haven’t known her very long, but already she has touched my heart.


#Gellibean #ootd #saltwatersandals Look @christinedychiao! They finally fit!!! #changingthefaceofbeauty #downsyndrome

A photo posted by Michelle Aventajado (@mommanmanila) on

I met her at a birthday party, where her mom and I were sharing a table. I remember that she danced all afternoon, and I’m pretty sure that she enjoyed the music so much. That, and being around all the hyperactive kids at the party.

I saw her again a few weeks later at her house. Turns out that she and I are neighbors! My mom was with me, and Gelli looked at us, waved hello and smiled a shy smile.

I think that the first time Gelli and I really bonded was during the Bento Mommas workshop I attended at their house. After the class, while everyone was shopping for bento tools and having snacks, she and I sat under the table in her mom’s yoga room, playing and eating Oreos. I think I had more fun than she did that afternoon.


My playmate this morning! #Gellibean A photo posted by MrsC | Patricia Cuyugan (@mrspcuyugan) on

After that day, I’d really look forward to seeing her whenever I’d come to visit. I brought her some of Little MrC’s old Sesame Street board and popup books once because I know she loves Elmo. Right away, she ripped Oscar the Grouch off a page, looked at me and said, “Uh-oh”. I couldn’t stop laughing.

I was so excited for MrC to finally meet her last month during our Valentine’s game night. He spent a good half hour sitting on the floor with her, playing with plastic bottles. He loves kids, and we don’t have a daughter (yet?), so he has extra extra fun whenever he gets to hang out with a baby girl. I loved watching him make Gelli laugh, and boy did she laugh at all of his antics!

She does this thing when anyone’s about to leave her, where she says “Bye” then “Wait!” with her hand straight out, stopping you in your tracks. It’s a fun game we’ve played many times, and I not-so-secretly look forward to her asking me not to go, each and every time. 


She escaped! #Gellibean

A photo posted by MrsC | Patricia Cuyugan (@mrspcuyugan) on


One of the most important things I have learned from Gelli is to think before I open my mouth. Imagine that, 30 years her senior, and I’m the one who’s learning from this little kiddo.

Once upon a time, I would use words like the R word, and its siblings, two A words, as an insult to others. Then, a few weeks ago I was tasked to write an article about things you shouldn’t say to a special needs parent.

While doing my research, I found on this post on Momma ‘N Manila, and I just ended up in tears after reading. It made me feel both sad and guilty about those bad names I’d called people in the past.

Becoming friends with Michelle, Gelli and their entire family has really put things into perspective for me. I don’t know why it took me so long to do this, but today I pledged my support to help spread the word to end the R-word. I think owe it to Gelli. 

end the R-word
Spread the Word to End the Word


So, Mish, can I be on #TeamGellibean now? And I’m sorry I didn’t ask for your permission to borrow Gelli’s photo. I wanted this post to be a surprise. 🙂

If you guys want to pledge to spread the word to end the R word too, just click here. Every person counts!

About MrsC | Patricia Cuyugan

I am a happy mom and housewife. Outside of this, I'm also a writer, a crocheter, and a self-taught home cook. I'm part of a book club, and I enjoy binge-watching my favorite TV shows. I'm super entertaining on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat! Follow me: MrsPCuyugan.

16 thoughts on “End the R word.

  1. Pingback: Mothers Who Brunch
  2. How did I not comment on this post before? I was looking for it again today, and of course I cried reading it….AGAIN…

    I’m so thankful for you Patty. So thankful for your friendship, your support, and your insight.

    I love how we learn so much from each other.

  3. I know 2 special needs kids myself. They are very bright and intelligent. They need care, attention and love and society should treat them with respect because they are very intuitive and sensitive kids.

  4. Thank you for sharing Gelli’s story! I think this blog does a great job to end the stigma and make people more aware and sensitive of these issues.

  5. I joined the pledge! A lot of people still use the R word lightly, and like you, i used to say the A word loosely as well, meeting children like Gelli really does put things into perspective.

  6. Hi…pattie…twas fun knowing you guys last Valentines game nite at d Aventajado’s.. i enjoyed reading your blog…

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