top of page
  • fedevecchi

Sticks and Stones, My A…Foot.

The kids and I were watching an “old” movie (“old” was their characterization…I am just going along with that so I don’t have to admit anything about myself). Someone in the movie pulled out a “sticks and stones” reference. I started to explain/teach it to my son and I caught myself. I started to say it in its entirety, but before the words could escape my lips I thought it through. What a crock! What was that little ditty we were taught to say as children if someone was calling us names? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I remember repeating this little mantra right along side the whole “I’m rubber and you’re glue” bullpucky, which I have yet to see reflect any actual situations… Man walks into his office and sits at his desk. Boss comes over and fires him. Man emerges victorious because he is rubber and his boss is glue…

We were handed this little mantra as some kind of bandaid, I suppose, to make us feel empowered when we felt anything but…to try to convince us that the pain we were feeling at the time was somehow not as real as the physical pain of a bruise, or a broken bone. Or maybe it was a “words to combat words” thing…a fight fire with fire tactic. Anyhow, I remember reciting this phrase plenty of times, but it never actually made me feel any better. It was more of an act, or performance, an attempt to hide my damaged spirit from the offending party…as if them not knowing how much they had hurt my feelings would make it any better…and it lodged itself permanently in the back of my brain.

Then when I was a bit older, I was taught that “the pen is mightier than the sword” (What the heck?! We couldn’t have led with that one?), confirming a truth that deep down I already knew from experience. Words do hurt. Sure, sticks and stones hurt, too, and leave more obvious wounds, but words can hurt just as much and oftentimes more deeply and permanently. Not only, but the first aid protocol for the damage caused by words is far more complicated and its successful treatment is harder to gage. You can see if the bleeding has stopped or if the swelling has gone down. Sometimes when we are damaged by someone’s words, we do not even know ourselves what the longterm effects could be.

Words are powerful and important. They can rip someone down or build them up. They can create opportunity or destroy progress. Loose lips sink ships. Words are powerful. I tell my kids to choose their words carefully, because once they are out there, one cannot simply make them disappear (even more so now with written words and social media…but that is a whole separate conversation). I try to give them words to have a strong enough inner dialogue to combat the negative words that will inevitably be thrown at them, and I try my best to teach them not to be the ones causing damage to others through their own words. Sticks and stones may break my bones… and words can break a spirit.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page