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.
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.