A couple of days ago I read…and reblogged from Commander in Chic…this quote:
“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls.”
YES!! Right on! I hope her girls hear her loud and clear, and hear all of us who are cheeringand repeating those wise words. What girl wouldn’t want a parent – particularly, her mother – to have such wisdom? To not only think the words above, but to say them out loud, to her daughters, publicly, lest they forget, or think she putting them on because she was their mother & had to say those things?
So it got me to thinking…not about what we should be saying to our loved ones, but rather, what we ought never to say to them, or indeed, to anyone whom we care about even the slightest bit. If we have ever said (to ourselves or anyone else) any of the following preambles…especially if they are coupled with some awful, unkind, unsolicited and utterly shitty remarks couched as thoughtful criticism, then we deserve much more than the figurative punch in the throat we will likely get (to steal an oft-repeated phrase from People I Want to Punch in the Throat).
- I only tell you this for your own good. Doubt it.
- If I don’t tell you, who will. Probably my very own self, about a thousand times, thank you very much.
- You’re just (or still) wet behind the ears. And yet, since I’m in my 30s, I do actually have valid opinions…
- You owe it to your mother/father/whomever to do… Insert action here (private, personal and very much none of your business)
- I only tell you this because I love/care about you. If you loved me, you’d shut your pie hole. Really!
- So & so said you did such & such. I know it’s true. You’d be surprised if I told you who said it, and no, I’m not going to tell you who said it. There is no defense…none.
- You’ll regret it when you’re older. So you’re the prognosticator of my future?
- You’d be embarrassed if… Insert whatever it is (about me) that embarrasses the speaker.
- You’re expendable. Really, no words.
- You wouldn’t be attracted to a guy/girl if s/he was as overweight as you are now. Damn. Really?
- When you’re my age, you’ll think/act/believe/live like I do. Not likely…
- That’s why they pay me the big bucks. Just damn. Oh.My.God.
- You’re just like… Insert whatever highly disliked person to whom I’m being compared.
- Why would you ever do that / want to do that? Insert highly disapproved of action / situation / opinion.
- Why do you do that to… How could you do that to… Insert whatever action has been perpetrated on speaker…nevermind that it is private, personal, and very much none of your business.
- SILENCE! Two can play this game, but it is only disrespectful when I do it.
- I knew that was going to happen. I told you it would happen. In other words, I’m stupid. Shut the hell up!
Recognize yourself in any of these? If you do, yes, I do mean you!
The thing is, I recognize myself too. These are small verbal cruelties that we so easily inflict on others…in the name of love, or responsibility, or justice. I’ve been on the receiving end of all of these, but I’ve dealt them out too, and I don’t like that character flaw…at all.
J.K. Rowling is far from perfect, as are we all, but she got one thing absolutely, exactly right: that her daughters’ worth (and indeed, the worth of each one of us) is in who they (we) are, not how they (we) look. It is in the nuances of our personalities, the uniqueness of our characters, the individual perspectives of our opinions, the special & individual natures of our interests, the ways we stretch our intellect, the manners in which we express ourselves.
So who the hell am I to use cruel words, backed up by cruel intentions, to extinguish those parts of someone else that make them different from me? Who the hell am I, indeed? Hopefully, someone who has learned…or is learning, because there is not like a good punch in the throat – be it literal, figurative, personal, spiritual, or otherwise – to teach that life lesson.