Give me sticks and stones any day.

Before work today I went to lunch at my favorite low cost chinese buffet. I go to this particular restaurant once or twice a week. It is not high cuisine by any means, but I like it. While I was eating my lunch the two women were having a conversation about their children. …..
Before I continue this I should admit I don’t have any children, and the way my life is going, probably never will. Nor do I spend a great deal of time around children. I make no claims to be an authority on child rearing.
Anyway, I over hear this conversation, mostly because they were talking rather loudly, and I heard¬† one of them make this comment, “and then I told him to rememember that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me'”. I almost choked on a piece of sweet and sour chicken.
I know she probably meant well, and I’m sure she was genuinely trying to help her child, but what a load of male bovine fecal material. In my life I’ have been hit by sticks and stones, and while those incidents did hurt, they didn’t hurt nearly as much as some of the words I have heard from people.
I too was told by concerned parents, friends, etc, that little rhyme. In a way, I think it actually made things worse. I mean, if words couldn’t hurt, if they didn’t hurt the people telling me that “words could never hurt me”, then I must not be as good, or as strong, or as tough as the people that were telling me that the words couldn’t hurt me. I remember clearly having that thought when I was nine years old.¬† I had gone to my Dad crying because I was tired of being made fun of at school. He put his arm around me, and repeated that phrase, that rhyme. I know he was trying to help, but I still hurt, and I couldn’t make him understand that. Maybe he did, but didn’t know how to help. Maybe that’s what his folks had told him.
But it’s not true. Worse, it is a lie: words can, and do, hurt. Hurt a lot. Sometimes the hurt is deliberate. Whoever said them wanted to hurt. Far worse is when someobody that truly loves you says something that hurts without meaning to. When they have no idea the impact of what they have said has on you. That is much, much worse. Give me sticks and stones any day.