Please ignore my sad attempt at drawing honeycomb in three seconds.
I have been thinking a lot about words.
Last year, I had the opportunity to testify in a court hearing. A real court hearing! I had attended (FIVE YEARS BEFORE) a hockey game in which one of the attendees drunkenly got into fisticuffs with a man sitting right in front of us. The drunken man was belligerent, crude, and yelled embarrassing obscenities for the whole of the game. Let’s just say things escalated. The drunken man came down our aisle and began punching two men who were sitting in front of us because they had asked him to knock it off. Five years later he was suing the two men…….it was the dumbest thing ever and one that had cost both parties hundreds of thousands of dollars. The drunken man was relentless in his pursuit of these two very wealthy men even though the whole incident was his fault. I was put under oath. I sat on the stand and was questioned by the drunken mans lawyer. He tried to make me look like an idiot. After all, that was his job but it was not to be. After fumbling through his questions I could tell I had the jury in my pocket. They were regular people just like me and I was there to tell the truth. It was like the lawyer didn’t know what to do with the truth. When he saw he wasn’t getting anywhere with his questioning he summed up our time with this statement, “Ms. Tidwell you are a teacher, correct?” Yes, I said. He continued smugly, “You know the nursery rhyme that says sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” I said, yes I am familiar with that saying. He then went on to say, “Do you agree that sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you?” To which I replied, “No, that is not true both can hurt you. In my class I teach the Golden Rule which is to treat others the way you want to be treated. Because words can absolutely hurt you.” There were nods and smiles from the jury and the men who had sat in front of us at that Coyotes game. The drunken mans lawyer said, ” That is all.” The other side had no further questions and I left feeling like I had done a good thing.
But I think about that moment a lot, on the stand testifying about the mistruth of a nursery rhyme.
And sometimes I think of the words that have hurt me. Sometimes I think of the words that I have said that have hurt others.
I recently listened to Oprah Winfrey’s new book called, What I Know For Sure. I highly recommend it. In the book she talks about words. She talks about how Goldie Hawn made her home a No Gossip Zone and a place where her family would use words to uplift each other. She quotes Maya Angelou who poignantly said, “Words are things, I’m convinced. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes, and finally, into you,” Angelou said. “We must be careful about the words we use. Someday we will be able to measure the power of words.”
I sure believe this to be true. One thing I know for sure are words are powerful whether they are kind or cruel.
The Power of Words is our new theme for the year. Tonight we had our first lesson. We sang the hymn, Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words. We learned the first few phrases tonight by heart. I had the kids listen to a short excerpt from Oprah’s book. We discussed how kind words make us feel and that we wanted our home to be a place of safety and love. We then looked up the scripture Proverbs 16:24. We each made a poster to hang somewhere in our house where we would see it and could ponderize it. I hope by having these little lessons it will sink in and everyone will be more kind to each other. I probably have the most to learn out of the three of us. It is our new school year goal.
An hour later one of my children was dissatisfied with the treat available for dessert. Vanilla ice cream with fresh coconut shavings and a dark chocolate swirl. This child decided to have a small bowl of cocoa crispies. As the child was getting ready to walk to the kitchen table the other child walks up and teases saying, I want some and pretends to grab the spoon. The child holding the cereal jerks and cocoa crispies fly everywhere. To which name calling begins between the two children, your an idiot…your so stupid…. and then I yell about the fact that there is cereal all over the kitchen.
Its called goals for a reason people. GOALS.
XOXO- Good thing I get credit for trying. The Sunny D