Words… words, words, words

There is a viral photo that makes its way around Facebook and Tumblr and probably every other social media site out there at least once every two or three weeks.  And it’s my turn to share it because it’s really important to me.

Always speak with consideration and purpose

This picture always jerks my heart-strings.  I’ve seen this exact expression on my little boy’s face before.  To my shame, there have been times I put it there.  I sometimes think I need to see this picture at least twice a day as personal penance for what I did to someone who deserves no less than the fullest expression of my love, but often receives my short temper and my frazzled nerves and my mental vacancy.

And because I have had my fair share of years in suffering for the words of others.  No matter how much I was told to “stop being such a baby” or to “grow up” (or the infamous “You think that hurt?  How about this?“–usually followed by some physically violent act), I know which injuries actually hurt the most and the longest.

Yesterday, my son said something on our ride home…  We’d been having a talk on respect because of an incident at school, and I was asking him how he would have felt if his father or I had done the same thing to him so he might hopefully understand how his actions were affecting others.    We seemed to have connected well at the moment, and rather than dwell on the issue, I tried to shift the conversation by pointing out a turtle I saw trying to cross the road in front of us.

“Is he* dead?”

“No.   He’s fine.  But this is a bad time for him to be crossing the road.  There’s a lot of traffic right now.”

“Did you run him over?”

“I was able to go around him, Sweetie.”

“Oh.  I hope the car behind us hits him and he dies.”

I just…  Well, a double take certain happened.  My normally gentle Boodle who still wants to cuddle and hug and sing “You are My Sunshine” with us in his little boy soprano before bedtime–how could he ever want to cause another living creature suffering?  I remembered how much he’d cried when, during a walk one day, we saw a dead rabbit along the road once, and he needed a huge hug.

And so I had to ask him again.  ‘How would he have felt if either his father or I, or any of his school mates, said that about our kitty Stimpy or about one of us….  Did he really think that was a kind thing to say?’

And maybe I tried to make my point too hard, because I saw that expression.  And he woke up last night from a bad dream, because he was sorry that he’d hurt the turtle, and he hoped it didn’t get hit.

Since I didn’t drive him into school today, I didn’t have a chance to see if the turtle did survive.  I confess, I’m rather glad.  What has happened, has happened.  And if I’d driven, I know the Boodle would have asked.  He does things like that.

*Yes, I know the turtle was very likely a female looking for a place to nest, but it seemed silly to argue semantics at the time

Now, for my ROW80 check-in:

Most anything I have to report fits into the SNAFU category.  Nothing particularly wrong.  Stuff is getting done, slowly.  I’ve actually made some great progress on my reading so that’s a bonus I had not expected.  It just feels like things are stagnating.

I’m experiencing a lot of personal resistance to the editing process for Release.  There is a part of myself that so desperately wants to just let the project die, and there is also that part that wants to do something with it.  I’m plying my mental energy on other projects while I try to figure out what I want to do.  I’m starting to think, if I am going to use it, a full rewrite may be in order, as well as a whole restructuring of all three parts of Parvenu (that Release is the first piece of–or rather used to be ).

Beyond that, I could go into specifics about the number of pages typed, the words explored…  Instead, here’s a link to my goals this ROWnd.  I’m ahead of everything except number of words of “new story”, and I’m not too far behind on that, even if it’s all in the wrong story.

So, any other ROWers here?  How’d your week go?

If you aren’t a ROW80 member and would like to see the blogs of some of our other amazing writers, here’s a linky for this check-in.  And here is a link to the main Round of Words in 80 Days for more on this writing challenge.

And lastly, here is one of my favorite Madonna songs: Words  because they DO matter.

21 responses to “Words… words, words, words

  1. I agree – that image (which isn’t showing up here, but did on FB) is emotive and triggers some lousy memories for me too. We’ve all said things too harshly or the wrong thing altogether in front of or to children. No one is perfect, but there are considerations to be made which some have no clue about? Grr

    I also hear you on the resistance to edit. Phew… Its’ certainly no easy ride, no picnic of fun. I’m slowly getting through the paper diet, but then I’ll have to apply those edits (including writing a few scenes) and then beta readers and an editor will no doubt rip it shreds in time for further alterations! Bleh. But it’s part of the process so I’m trudging on.

    Keep going Eden. 🙂 X

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    • You’re so right, Shah. Sometimes I think I forget what I signed up for, I guess. 😉

      As for the picture, while my son and the picture itself focus on the effect of words against children, I think it’s important that we take the time to deal with people of all ages, races, traditions, genders…whathaveyou with care and intention. We’ve all so little time on this amazing planet…why are we wasting it being unkind to others?

      Not you personally or any of the ROW80 community… You guys are some of the most amazing people online. And there are a lot of great people online.

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  2. Aww Eden, I’m also glad you didn’t drive today. I’m happy thinking the turtle is safe and sound 🙂 Take a break from editing if you have to. Usually the resistance is due to needing to focus on something else or like you may have already decided, simply because you need to restructure and don’t want to. If it’s going to be better for the story, take a breather and then dive back in!

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    • 😀 Well then, Lauren, I have good news. Today I had to drive the Boodle in today and there was no sign that anything had gotten hit there in months (it’s been really dry here so I’d have noticed). The turtle lived! YAY! (And yes, the Boodle did ask me about it unprompted. He’s really an incredibly gentle and caring little guy. {happy mommy})

      I’m kind of divided on the taking a break thing though… This is the manuscript that had been hiding in the drawer for about 10 years and I dug out to just “deal with it”. Problem is, I still like what I read, but it doesn’t work anymore, and it is still writing from 10 years ago in so</strong many ways…

      Not to mention, my inner couch potato and my inner child are tag-teaming me because they want to just do the fun stuff. 😉

      How's your big project going? Everything moved and unpacking started?

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  3. Hi, I definitely had to respond to your story. It was heartbreaking, but I understand about words people say!!! Thank U for sharing it… I had to put it on Facebook for everyone I know to see. Hopefully they will pass it on for others to think about what they say before they say it. Again, Thank U.

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    • You’re welcome. I’m sorry you found my story heartbreaking. It does have a happy ending (as I noted in another comment)–here today things are good. And we’ve had a good experience, learning about how we affect each other, not just him affecting me or me affecting him, but our effects on the world around us and each other. It’s all good. Thanks for passing this along. Come back anytime if you enjoyed the ramblings here. 🙂

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  4. Rough week? You sound a bit down for some reason. Maybe you just need a break from Release. Part of you still wants to complete it so that should say something.

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    • Oh, Ryan. Sorry for coming off so negative. It’s actually been a very nice week here, and I really do love the story… Well, as I said in my reply to Lauren, it’s more a timing thing. I feel like I have (or rather should have) grown beyond it. It’s silly of me, I know.

      So how are you doing now that your vacation is over?

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      • Bah, not silly at all. We all get tired of our WIPs! I’m doing okay. I still find myself wanting to be back at the beach but I’m keeping things moving ahead.

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        • I understand and sympathize. Your posts about your beach time were so “in tune”… I could almost picture the smile on your face. Well, hopefully you’ll have another chance in the very near future.

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  5. Poor little guy… kids all go through a phase (or at least, so I’ve heard) where they want pain inflicted because they are learning to deal with pain themselves. Hopefully this all blows over soon.

    Good luck in the rest of the week, dear!

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    • Huh! You know, Dahnya, I never thought it might just be a phase or age thing… Thanks for noting that. It feels a lot better just thinking it’ll blow over.

      Thanks too for the good wishes. And right back at’cha! 😀

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  6. I’ve waited a few days to respond to this because, on several levels, it went straight to my soul with a panging zing….and I want to be just right in how I share, what I share, and why….

    I don’t want to wait to do it in person (some soonish Tuesday, maybe?) because I’ll never say it right and well before we go off on a dozen equally important tangents.

    And I want to share with my love for you and that incredible boy, and the joy of having you as cornerstones of my chosen family, in the forefront. If some of what’s next is hard to consider, please never doubt I love.

    I will put the rest in a separate comment, because it will likely be long, and I want you to be in a happy receiving state, with some tea and time and maybe dark chocolate, while I prepare to open a vein……which means, I am going to do a bit of hometending meditation, after which I will delve deeper….

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    • I think I understand… It was one of those things that was hard to write (and I know I did not write it correctly or exactly how it happened, not well at least). It’s also one of those things that I find happens more and more when that external force (and I will call it a force, because that’s how it makes any sense) in our lives gets involved. School isn’t a “bad” thing any more or less than any other tool, but the way it affects our household is incredibly disruptive. Not simply in the timing or the work, but it is philosophically and emotionally disruptive. And it often comes between my husband and I. (As you know, I was not eager to pursue this year at school way back in October. That conviction never died, but each time it’s “We should wait and see” from the other half. And though he was willing to say “Okay, no more,” the instant something doesn’t work the way he would like them to, or when the Boodle is “de-schooling” in any sense of the word, then suddenly, we’ve got to “start making expectations…” And well, there are emotional issues I’m not willing push on. But I’m sure you understand.)

      The good thing? The Boodle and I have had some wonderful talks about things because of this. We’ve gone out and talked about his Serafina kitty, and we’ve talked about whether the deer along the road might have had families, and his great-grandma’s funeral. And we’ve made plans to walk through a cemetery and see how people made them to remember people they loved. And he put little rocks by Fluff’s tree, and we talked about how the kitties are becoming part of the tree and how we all change and become parts of the world around us…

      We’re sharing. And we’re talking, with purpose and gentle intent.

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  7. So, to begin –

    I think you know that this little boy looks a lot like my brother, and that I often saw this expression, and more wrenching ones, on his face.

    I know I wore it, too – and I, too, have caused it in my children.

    I’m learning not to, and that means I seldom see this expression anymore. I see its opposite most of the time.

    I believe that this picture is a potent signpost. I do NOT believe you – or anyone else who is truly learning to speak with intention and compassion,. should use it or anything else as penance.

    What’s past, IS past. Whatever damage it inflicted already exists. Punishing yourself for repeating patterns unconsciously is cruel to yourself, here and now.

    And you can’t be sweeter to that boy, really, than you are to yourself…..

    What I do when I feel like punishing myself for past lacks is to look at a picture of myself. I, too, was a little child, once, and I, too, knew the sting of harsh words, harsh blows, and intentional shaming.

    Do I not deserve as much gentle compassion as my own children?

    So I gather us ALL under my sheltering wing, these days. I reject guilt – it serves no purpose, and adds negative energy. I shift that guilt to purpose – the commitment to maker things the best I can in each moment going forward, andthe striving for better and better bests…..

    It helps, and I am feeling, these days, like a natural mother who is a facet of my whole, and not like someone trying to play the role of parent well.

    ****

    As for the incident at school, and your discussions about it…

    I have said the same things, or nearly, when trying to impart the concept of respect for others to Miah and Lise.

    Just lately, Lise has been watching old family videos (from when she was two or so up to about 5, I think). Some were filmed here, some at your house, some at the museum, Liberty Ridge, and other places we’ve been.

    I’ve been watching with her, here and there, and hearing even more as I go about my day. And I’ve come to an uncomfortable realization:

    I have been incredibly disrespectful to them, many times, and in many ways. The proof is incontrovertible.

    Now, when I hear myself say, “How would you like it if….”, it seems – fake? contrived? Me looking at their lives as though I have never run roughshod over their selfnesses? Something of all of those, and more, maybe….

    I’m starting to shift, and to realize that I have been at times an ogre in my children’s lives….they don’t need to imagine disrespect; I’ve given them plenty enough to know how it feels.

    I just realized what I’ll say instead…”I’ll bet you can think of a time you felt bad because of something someone did or said….I think that might be how _____ felt about what you did today.”

    And then I can let it drop, and give them some time to ponder and feel.

    I’m learning to talk a lot less, and to plant many more seed-ideas to germinate privately, over time, into new awareness….

    ******
    And about the happily safe gender nonspecific turtle…..

    It sounds to me as if the Boodle is at one of those stages where understanding and awareness deepen. He’s more mature, and needs to explore these big facts of life – maybe especially the inevitable ones.

    A few months ago, Lise’s art started showing that she was occupied more with death than she had been. In amongst her usual joyful fare were tombstones emblazoned with R.I.P., people hanging, severed limbs, and the like. I might have found it frightening, except I’ve already had Miah go through several cycles of such exploration, so it was less upsetting than it might have been.

    Life has sun and shadows, and there is nothing healthy about pretending it doesn’t.

    I also think younger kids who say, draw, or act out gruesome themes are, in a way, testing the waters. What’s appropriate to say? What gets a reaction?

    I have learned to let those moments go, even when they trouble me, or to ask a very simple question like, “Why?” in a neutral tone, as though it were any other conversation we were having.

    The boy who cried for the rabbit is still there. He’s growing up, though, and that can be a messy and startling affair…

    And I say this as a mom who has recently explained several terms and physiologic processes that make it clear puberty is on our horizon….

    All is well, and will be well.

    And I love you! =)

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  8. Pingback: ROWin’ in the Rain – Goals Update #6 « shanjeniah

  9. Oh, yeah, kids can give all our child-raising confidence a wallop sometimes! But if you’re trying (and you definitely are), remember that the times you put the frazzled nerves and temper aside to offer kind words will happen too. Unfortuantely, we aren’t as good as remembering them!

    I do remember, though, the time my teenage son put two holes in my newly sponge-painted entryway wall. I know he must have seen it on my face, but I just signed, went to my room and cried, and then came out and we talked about it rationally. With hugs.

    I hope there were more moments like that, but that’s the one that I pull out to balance out all the mother-guilt over things I could have done differently.

    And I like thinking about the turtle doing fine now, too. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Jennifer. It’s been actually quite good here since the Boodle and I had our talk. I won’t say that it will never happen again; I’m starting to believe that such talks are simply a part of the growing process… It’s working though. Just connecting and being with each other is so much more valuable than anything else…

      And,yes, things do have a tendency to be less memorable when they are good. Why? maybe because we’re invested trying to prevent it from happening again…

      Thanks for visiting, Jennifer. Hope you have a lovely week.

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