Thursday, June 14, 2012

Duckling Becomes Elephant

My mother opened our front door and ushered in our next door neighbors.  They came bearing gifts for my little newborn sister.

Lila, who was pregnant herself,  and her Cuban mother-in-law, Mama Yamazalez, settled on the couch and accepted ice tea. Of course, Mom brought out the baby and passed her around so that both could see her.

image by kozzi
When it was Mama's turn, she looked my sister over very carefully and then said to Mom, "Oh she so beautiful.  She will grow to be swan.  Look at her nice long neck."  Glancing at me, she said, "Not like you.  You neck short!" (I know she was Cuban, but somehow I hear her words in my brain with an Asian accent.)

Seriously?  Really?  She just marked me for life.  Now I am ugly duckling ...

I was 12 and a half when this traumatic visit occurred.

A couple years later, I was struggling to do the 500 yard dash at high school.  My phys ed teacher (I mercifully cannot remember her name) yelled out to me, "Jerri!  You run like an elephant!"

Totally uncalled for.

Now, I'm an ugly duckling who became an elephant.

Talk about scarred for life!  

I look back and feel sorry for the teen-aged me.  I felt awkward and clumsy.  I felt chubby even though I only wore a size 7.  

I wish I could tell her, "Don't listen to those silly women. What do they know?  They couldn't see grace and beauty if it bit them in the face."

Unfortunately, I still hear their voices in my head all these years later!  I guess I always will.

Please only use uplifting words when talking to others.  You don't realize how damaging words can be.

In the words of the immortal Thumper (from the movie "Bambi"):  "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Today, I'm linking up at the Writer's Workshop.  I wrote on prompt #5:  Share something mean someone said to you once, why has it stuck with you after all these years?

If you'd like to link up, visit Mama Kat's blog, Mama's Losin' It.


SouthMainMuse said...

Wow. Both of those were incredibly thoughtless. I remember when I was in seventh grade and got my hair cut in the Dorothy Hamil. The short wedge one. Oh. I came home and saw all that neck in the mirror and cried my eyes out. People forget how sensitive teens are. Your post is a powerful reminder.

Anonymous said...

Great post. God is speaking to me through it right now. While I might not use negative remarks such as the ones you mentioned here, I do at times tend to be a little rough around the edges when I am trying to get my point across to others. Thanks for sharing.

Much love and blessings,

Trissy-T said...

Some people really are totally thoughtless! I'm sure that their words were not meant to hurt, but that is the reason that we all need to watch what we say and really think about things!

Susanne said...

Oh my heart hurt for you as I read this. Words like that are hard to slough off especially for teenagers. Thanks for the reminder to watch the words and even the tone that we use when we say things to others.

Carol said...

I grew up on those famous words from "Bambi". I had five other brothers and sisters and to this day I can hear those words... "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all!" I have always tried to live by those words.

Sorry you had to recall a less than pleasant experience to remind us of how important each individual is.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I recently joined the writing prompts and am enjoying it very much.