Words Matter

Remember the ditty: “Sticks & Stone will break my bones, But names will never hurt me?

My mother would remind my siblings and me that when someone picked on us. Or we picked on each other.

Yet the events of the past week certainly prove: Words matter. They can hurt. They can stick. They can threaten. They can provoke.

I’ve been thinking about words lately, mostly some of mine. Particularly, I’m reviewing a play I wrote several years ago that caused pain and anger in a family member.

While the act of writing the play may have been cathartic for me, as a way to express my perspective on a challenging situation, for this person, the writing humiliated and embarrassed.

For this, I apologize. I never meant to hurt people I love.

While others found universal messages in the play, this person saw ridicule.

I apologize.

I’m reading books about family rifts, especially those between parents and their adult children. I recognize ways I have crossed boundaries and created tension with various questions and remarks that present either an invasion of privacy or expectations of behavior.

I apologize.

We are all human and we all make mistakes. We can learn from them and try harder.

Family and friends are worth the effort.



About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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5 Responses to Words Matter

  1. What is that momentary pleasure received from freely expressing a comment that may be hurtful? I work constantly to keep quiet when one of those comments emerges and tries to be spoken…


  2. jfrances40 says:

    Beautiful. Something we all need to work on.


  3. May you and your family be blessed with good things. What a beautiful post.


  4. jmgoyder says:

    It’s such a fine line!


  5. Drjcwash says:

    This is so true Lisa. I am seeing that everyday. WI have to be careful of what I say and do everyday. There is no second chance sometimes. I have been called many times. Thank you


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