"Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me."
Except that isn't true, is it?
Teachers all over have taught this difficult lesson by handing their students a piece of paper and asking them to crumple it up as much as they can. Then they ask their students to smooth out the paper and make it look like it did before. But they cannot. Their actions have permanently altered the state of the paper.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I can easily recall words that have been said to me with the sole purpose of hurting my feelings. Those are tough to deal with but there are also words that are used thoughtlessly and inadvertently that are just as painful. I know I'm not unique in this, we have all had someone say something thoughtless and at the time didn't even realize how hurtful their words were.
The one time that is most relevant to this blog was said at a time when my boys were much younger than now. We all remember this time, some of us are still going through it. The countless specialist appointments, evaluations, IEPs and meetings all while trying to learn what this new Autism diagnosis means. Admittedly, from the outside looking in, our lives looked difficult and stressful. It was at this time that a friend of ours said that they were afraid of having kids after seeing what we were going through...
I'm pretty sure if the place were quiet, you could have heard my heart shatter and fall to the floor. Even with everything going on, there was never a second that I didn't love being my boys' mom, to me they are perfect and wonderful and anyone should be lucky to have kids as awesome as mine. Now, years later, I can look back and understand that the comment came from a place of ignorance, not a misunderstanding of the diagnosis but a lack of understanding of how it feels to be a parent. It's impossible to understand the depth of love that comes from being a parent until you are one. That friend has children now and 'gets it'.
The point of this isn't to unburden my soul of one of my past pains, it is that past pain that makes me think often of words and the power they contain. In a time where close friends can so easily make a small slip and inadvertently create a painful memory that can last for years, it is important to protect ourselves and our children from those who make loud and blatant statements to discriminate, belittle, shame and hurt.
We are special needs parents, we are capable of understanding massive amounts of information from very little communication. Today that skill is more important than ever, our kids communicate exactly what they mean and we take them at face value. Sometimes people show us through their words exactly how they think and feel. There is no point in ignoring or dismissing what someone is blatantly telling you to your face. You have heard the words, our kids have heard the words, how do you feel about that?
Today we have a voice. Your vote is your voice. Your vote is your child's voice.
The whole world is watching.
Your children are watching.
The words don't lie, even hurtful ones are based in a belief system. Some words can't be dismissed, some words shouldn't be dismissed.