Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me...NOT! I am super sensitive, so what people say about me can hurt my feelings. I've become accustomed to the fact that I am clumsy, told to me time and time again by my dad who got really
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me...NOT! I am super sensitive, so what people say about me can hurt my feelings. I’ve become accustomed to the fact that I am clumsy, told to me time and time again by my dad who got really annoyed when I spilled milk at the dinner table or tripped over the rug coming into the house. I have embraced this quirk with acceptance. A few years ago, while trying to take a picture of the 100 or so people at a church picnic, I kept backing up and backing up to get them all in the shot. Inevitably, a large rock blocked my path and I fell flat on my back, appendages waving in the air like an upside down turtle. Members of the church rushed to help me as I clumsily got to my feet. “You must have been SO embarrassed”, they said. “Me? No, that was just clumsy old me,” I told them as I laughed.
However, the worst insult ever hurled my way was at Gorton Junior High School when I tried out for the chorus in seventh grade. Two unforgettable boys, in a conspiratorial tone, called me “Mole Face.” MOLE FACE! Yes, I did have a few moles on my face, but had never before consciously noticed them as an attribute. Shocked and hurt at their comment, I excused myself from the audition, went into the bathroom and cried, never returning to the try outs. I could have been a remarkable singer, but will never know since I deprived myself of that opportunity because of the rudeness of two boys.
Actually, hurling insults is beyond rude, it is assaultive. An acquaintance of mine from college chronicled such an assault on her Facebook page. A lovely woman, who had battled weight loss her whole life, was crossing the parking lot to get into her car at Walgreen’s. Apparently, her pace was not fast enough for an oncoming car in a hurry, and a stranger hurled “Hurry up, fat ass!” Wounded and shocked, the woman hurried into her car and started to cry, flooded with memories of being teased as an overweight child. She still tears up over this incident.
Racial and ethnic insults can be especially damaging, generally fostered by narcissistic bullies who feel if the recipient of their barbs feels humiliated, their own status is somehow raised. When children are bullied in this manner, their whole concept of self can be shaken to the core, possibly causing a lifelong feeling of inadequacy and depression. A happy, hopeful life can be ruined by the taunts of others. Such is the case of Alejandro, a thirteen year old boy from Guatemala. He is relentlessly teased both because of his ethnic group and his small stature. A group of boys in his junior high think it is funny to hurl insults and throw dirt on him, shouting an abusive slur combining “dirty” and his nationality. Slight Alejandro feels he is no match for his bullies, and asked his parents to talk to the boys’ parents. However, they were met with similar abuse from the parents who defended their children’s actions. Thus demonstrates the saying “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
Parents should teach children that bullies are nothing more than narcissistic individuals who were probably bullied themselves by their parents or others. Abusive people most often come from abusive backgrounds. That is not to say that their behavior should be ignored, but it should be taken with a grain of salt. By dismantling their behavior, it is easier to dismantle their insults. Had I known this in seventh grade, I would have ignored the Mole Face comment from the boys and tried out for chorus, thus becoming a wonderful singer who loved to sing in crowds.