Why Would Anyone Send This Letter, Ever?

By Sarah Smith, REDBOOK.

The letter started circulating widely after singing duo Lennon and Maisy tweeted about it. When it comes to choices other parents make, I like to be balanced, see the other side, and tamp down judgment. But sometimes there is no other side.

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In Newcastle, Ontario, this week, a mother sent an anonymous letter to Karla Begley, complaining (to put it mildly) about Karla's son, who is autistic. The letter is cruel. Reading is like getting a kick in the gut. The writer says astoundingly hateful things, from "he is a hindrance to everyone" to "euthanize him." What upsets me the most is that she signed the letter, "One pissed off mother." That means this woman has kids. What is she teaching them about people with disabilities or how to treat any person? We like to think that becoming a mom transforms you into a person with a second heart, full of love you never knew. But that doesn't always happen, and I've seen it myself.

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When I was growing up, a mother in our neighborhood mailed a cruel, anonymous letter to one of the other children on our street. The kid's mom intercepted it, and a handful of the mothers figured out who had sent it (and we kids didn't learn about it for years). Now that I know about it, and now that I'm a mom, I wonder about that woman's children, who I knew and sometimes played with. Did they grow up to treat other people badly, or did they recognize that there was something not right about their mother? What are they teaching their kids?

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Even in the age of Facebook, I don't know what happened to them, but the possibilities make me sad. Still, I hope that they, and the kids of this anonymous Canadian mom, find the inner strength to move past what they learned as children. And I hope that when my son encounters people like this-because I know he will-he'll be able to past it because he knows how much his dad and I love him.

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