Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones, but I’m Ignoring Your Words that Hurt Me

A teacher enrichment day following Thanksgiving added another day to the long Thanksgiving break to total six days off in a row. The last day fell on a Monday, and I drew the straw to take the day off of work.

My first-grade son chose to go to The Works Museum, a children’s museum focusing on making things with an underlying sciences, technology, education and math component. Everything hands on and kid friendly.

It wouldn’t have been my first choice on how to spend the day, but his enthusiasm for the museum sold me on granting his wish to spend the day there.


The most time and fun was spent building cars to race on the K’nex track that timed two cars down to the thousandth of a second. We even took intermission at a nearby taco shack and returned for round two to continue racing.

The museum closed at three, and my son’s face expressed shock when it was time to go. He was so engrossed in playing, and you know how it is when you wish you could just stop time.

As we stepped outside, he suggested going to a climbing gym or rollerskating. Neither of us wanted the day to end and we hadn’t planned anything else. “I never get to do anything fun,” was his response as I explained it was time to head home.

A slow boil wanted me to scream what were you doing in there then? Was spending the day at the museum of your choice not fun for you? I swear, sometimes you try to give your kids what they want and it completely backfires.

The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” comes to mind. That’s great in theory, but I’ve never been great at actual execution. Even the words of a six-year old can sting.

But then I remember, he’s just six years old. He’s angry and taking it out on whoever is closest. In order for him to learn that words don’t have to hurt, I’m going to have to fake it until I make it. Somehow, I managed to bite my lip and get in the car without a stearn voice, actually without any voice at all, letting him voice his hurtful words without any obvious reaction from me.

Much of parenting may be planting seeds for fruit we may never see grow.

We pulled away from the museum, and I had to fill the car with gas. Stepping out into the cold, I bundled up and as the tank filled, I took a peek in the car. My son mustered up a smile, almost checking on me to see if I was mad. I smiled contently in return.

Heading home he told me he had a fun day, that he enjoyed playing with the cars and hanging out with me at the museum. That was enough for me to let go of the previous words, so they could be replaced and forgotten.

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