“Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” As a kid I fully believed this. I repeated it to myself when kids made fun of what I was wearing, when they called me “big boned” or a “tomboy,” or when they simply laughed in that condescending way they had. Words couldn’t hurt me, right?
The messages I got from my peers, so called “friends” who sometimes meant well but had their own personal issues, and my family became my reality. Their words became the words I told myself as I grew up. From these words I learned that I wasn’t as good as the other kids, I wasn’t as pretty as the other girls, I wasn’t valuable, I didn’t matter.
Words can hurt as much as sticks and stones, the damage is just harder to see.
This morning both my daughters told me they have “fat fingers” (my oldest even said she has “man hands”). They think nothing of these kinds of comments. They hear similar ones all day long. But even if they say these things jokingly these words become their thoughts and feelings.
Today my oldest turned 13. I couldn’t just let her “man hands” comment go, but teenagers are not overly receptive to the things we tell them. What we show them is far more valuable, but since we were watching Mary Poppins* I didn’t want to interrupt everything for a lesson. I simply told her that over time we tend to believe the things we tell ourselves, even if we were “just kidding.”
In typical teenage fashion she sighed and told me to stop teaching. This is a personal joke of sorts because she’s been telling me to stop teaching her for years but I always tell her that it’s my job to teach her. I don’t lecture but I will say what’s on my mind.
Today though when she told me to stop teaching, her tone was a bit different than it usually is. Since I started this blog and working on the book I’m writing I think she sees me a little differently. I’ve read her some of my posts (she is welcome to read them all someday but since I am open about some things she’s not ready to know I have asked her not to read them all yet). Trying to appear unimpressed, she told me I should teach writing. I think she’s starting to realize I might know a thing or two.
For now, if she learns to be kind to herself I’ll have done my job.
Lets change our inefficient, hating self-talk to something better:
*I love that my kids enjoy the classic movies like Mary Poppins, Wizard of Oz, and The Sound of Music.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Inefficient