Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Big Fat Lie

We were all told this big fat lie at one point or another in our childhood years. I know our parents (and grandparents) were just trying to minimize how we felt about what was happening to us. I know there was nothing they could really do about what was happening to us. So, they told us this "Sticks and stones will break your bones. But words will never hurt you." Not.

Anyone who has been on the receiving end of a caustic or mean word knows that words can not only hurt you but they can destroy you. And, sometimes even more obvious, is if you're on the GIVING end of ugly words. You can see the hurt, the devastation on the face of your victim. There is no salve. It can't be taken back. Or bandaged. Sometimes you don't even specifically remember the words that wounded you so mortally. But you remember the hurt.

::Ask the young girl that has heard someone say she's "fat". She will never, ever look at herself the same again.
::Ask the boy that overheard someone (especially a parent) say that he is "just not athletically inclined" with a shake of the head. He has been dropped down a notch in his own eyes. Even if he didn't like sports anyway.
::Ask the child whose (rotten) parent has called him or her dumb. Oh yeah. That arrow hits it's mark. And it's deadly.
::And the wife whose husband puts her down?
::And the husband whose wife emasculates him with words?

Those people will never be the same again. Ever. Just as a small example of what I'm saying, I was told by another child on the school bus when I was about 9 years old that my nose was big. Seriously. And I know that if you've ever ridden a school bus or spent any amount of time around other are not surprised. Because kids can be cruel. Beyond cruel. I spent the next 15 or so years being so self-conscious of my nose. A nose that, while not perfect certainly, is an okay nose. A little crooked maybe. Not tiny. But certainly not "big". I believe the child called me "Pinnochio". (Really, I know it. I heard it in my mind for years. Echoing.) Sometime in my mid-twenties I looked into the mirror and had a revelation. One of those light bulb moments. My nose was fine. It wasn't big. I no longer needed to cover it and try to hide it.
See what I'm saying? I don't remember that kid's name. I truly don't. But his hurtful words damaged a part of me for many years. Made me self-conscious.

As parents, we have to be especially careful. What we say is so vital to the well-being of our children. It's stressful. It's scary. I guess it goes along with the old saying "The hand that rocks the cradle...". Because we really do, as parents, rule a lot of things-if not the world.

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