Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Words to an the 8-year-old-me on Picture Day


I was about eight years old.

                source  It was picture day and I was wearing my favorite outfit. It was a shorts jumpsuit with a long skirt slit up the front. I thought I looked so cool. What can I say...it was the 70's.


The class was slotted to go down and have their pictures taken after lunch and after recess. I was big on recess for sure. I would run around and jump and discover and jump around some more. I wasn't big on organized games. I just wanted to play.

After a half hour of running around we lined up for our turn to take our class picture. We were all pretty disheveled. I had very long hair and the cute neat half up half down hair style was now a bit messy. The teacher looked at me as I was waiting in line and said

"Look at you! you are a mess!
                    You are going to ruin the whole class picture!"


She said it and everyone heard...even the other kids knew that that was wrong, but being only eight  rendered one helpless in defending anyone against a grownup.

I was humiliated

I was sad.....

                            and worse of all.....I believed her.

 My mom couldn't understand why I begged for her not to buy the picture package...I never told her. She sent the money in anyway.

A month or so later the pictures came in. There I was top row left with a forced smile. There was really nothing wrong with the picture, but I still wanted to stay home from school the next day for fear that someone would say something nasty.  I thought I ruined the picture for everyone. I look at that picture now and I wonder what possessed my teacher to say such a thing to me. I wonder if she was sorry. I wonder if she even gave it a second thought. I look at it now and a see a sweet little girl who loved to play. source

It's amazing how all these years later just looking at that picture will bring me back to that moment.
I think that is why I try so hard to watch what I say and try to think of how my words might affect someone. Have I always been successful? Of course not.  I think the worst thing I can do is hurt some one's feelings. It kills me. I think having that experience and so many more like that growing up made me very sensitive to hurtful words and it is still difficult for me to rebound. But I do.

Whatever happened to that teacher? Last thing I remember was her breaking her toe after someone opened a door and slammed her with it....yikes!
A few years later I was accepted in a two year music program and had the most lovely teacher ever. She encouraged me. She pushed me to be more open. She protected me when bullies reared their ugly heads my way. Her love of music and art was truly inspiring. When I was eighteen I went back to visit her. She asked what was my major in college...I told her I wanted to be a nurse ( a choice that I changed later on) she looked at me, smiled and said...

"Funny, I always thought you'd be a writer."

Words are very powerful.. They can sink in and warm your soul or they can hang over you like a dark cloud threading their effect into everything you try to do. I hope and pray that when I am long gone from this world that people will say that my words were a welcomed gift to them whether written or spoken.


  1. You are not the only one with a pictures story. Oh yes, words are very powerful, and music can be too.

  2. Joanne, your words are a welcomed gift right now - every comment, every post. I especially like this one. It's touching, and you relay such an important message. I'm mad at your teacher, too. How stupid and insensitive.

    The day of my Bat Mitzvah ceremony, one of our family friends (an adult) said "Robyn, aren't you going to get your hair done?" My mom turned to me and said, "Robyn, sometimes people say stupid things." So true.


  3. I love reading your posts, Jo. You definitely have talent as a creative writer. I loved to write too when I was in school. Still do as a matter of fact.
    Why do the bad teachers stick in our minds? I remember my 6th grade teacher and how she ridiculed me once. In todays world she would have been on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

  4. What a powerful and gentle reminder that our words have the power to hurt or heal. Thanks for the encouragement! I'm glad you're at least able to look at the picture and recognize that she was wrong.

  5. You are a good writer and you always capture my interests with your variety of subjects. I think especially when around children we as adults should be encouraging and not discouraging. You never know how far encouraging words will go.

  6. This story just makes my heart hurt for you. Some people should not be teachers. Thankfully, you had a good teacher and built your self confidence.

    You are a very good writer. Your writing is always fresh and thought provoking with just enough humor and life lessons thrown in.

  7. It's interesting how things like that stick with us. Thank heaven you had such a wonderful music teacher later.

  8. Fantastic post. I've been thinking a lot about what parents say to their kids, and have wondered if I've ever said something to one of my kids that carried such a negative impact they will never forget it. I hope and pray not; so far I've been kinda chicken to ask.

    Please visit my blog...I "tagged you" there!

  9. @ anthony stemke~ Yes! isn't it amazing how music takes you back?

    @ Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com~ Thank You and Hooray for your Mom!

    @ Beth~ Thank you and you are so right!

    @ Retired English Teacher~ Thank you you are very sweet.


    @ Mindy~ Thank you..it did take a while though.

    @ Barb~ Thank you and right you are!

    @ Michelle Teacress~ Yes she was a sweetheart

    @ Lisa Ricard Claro~ I do the same too! and thank you for the tag!

  10. Hi, Joanne! I'm a writer friend of Lisa Claro's and stopped over from her blog. (Also see some other names I know on here!) Just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed this post. I've got those memories too from childhood, and they make big impressions. But now, as the mom to six wonderful kids, I needed this reminder today to speak with kindness and love. Thank you!


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