Stick and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Whoever wrote that phrase was a BLATANT LIAR. This popular phrase was often repeated on the playground as a child if someone uttered something unpleasant.
In reality words do hurt. They actually hurt more than if you were physically assaulted as while the physical touch will stop hurting quite quickly, affairs that impact us mentally and emotionally tend to leave a deep scar and may cause us to hate, malice, become bitter or even seek revenge.
All of us at some point in our lives will be hurt by something that was said to us. The impact is also greater felt if we respect or are close to the ones who hurt us.
Case in point when my school mate “Cracko” called me “Guinep Face” in the 7th Grade because I had pimples caused by acne, I was quite upset. However the emotions I experienced that day could not compare to the hurt and disappointment I felt when my manager made a very rude comment that was an inference to me in a staff meeting.
It reminded me of my most embarrassing moment in high school when I just wanted to disappear, dissipate or dissolve like the characters would in a cartoon series. (Laugh) I can laugh at the situations now however when the actions occurred it wasn’t a laughing matter for me.
What happened in 1992 could not happen now, as children are much more brazen. There is also now a Children’s Advocate and National Parenting Association. The television is also educating our children that hurtful words constitute mental abuse, and all workers who interact with children who are suspecting abuse of some kind must report to the relevant parties.
Children can be disruptive and will sometimes get on the nerves of an adult hence sometimes adults may slip up and say something out of frustration. (Like I did one day with my son where the verb and noun used in a particular sentence were transposed and the sentence just did not come out right much to my embarrassment and the resulting laughter and expression of shock on the face of my son and family members).
The following story did not emanate because I was restless or giving trouble in class. The series of event occurred because I was supposedly “caught in the act” of disrespecting my maths teacher.
In high school my most embarrassing moment was experienced in the 10th Grade. That was the day when my fear of maths teachers was justified.
My fear of maths started from I was in Grade 2 at primary school. Fortunately for me although my Grade 5 teacher was rough I was not a bad performer in my class and she struck a balance when she got us engaged in other subjects as primary school teachers were quite rounded back then. Ms. Wallace’s superb teaching skills enabled me to pass the Common Entrance Examination at the age of 10 which meant that I would attend high school at that age and would be competing with many 11 to 13 year olds in the 7th grade.
Between the 7th and 10th Grades, I was extremely afraid of ALL my maths teachers as they were all quite STERN. (That was how I perceived them). This resulted in me hardly asking questions or performing in class. I hated the subject, didn’t relate to the teachers, did poorly in my exams, hid my results from my parents and was often criticised as being the total opposite of my sister who consistently performs well in maths.
In the 9th Grade my maths teacher was the female Vice Principal Miss James otherwise called Mama James. Mama James used to run with a little leather strap that often connected with students that were not doing something right. (As stern as Mama James was the students loved and respected her as at times she was really “down to earth” but in math class I was in a different world).
Mama James used to let the class stand in a circle around the room and work out questions mentally. Oh boy, I used to pray (while I stood in the circle) that she would call on another of the forty-something students who stood in my class as I was “somehow” invisible.
My prayers were answered. I never got hit nor was I embarrassed. Who knows? Maybe she saw the fear in my eyes, but each day I would breathe a sigh of relief when class ended.
In the 10th Grade my class was given a Guyanese male teacher. He used to work maths very fast and as soon as the brightest maths kids got the concept in class he would move on leaving the rest of us behind. (Again this is my opinion, my reality)
I used to sit behind a Jheri Curl haired friend in those days, and as we were the leading class in that grade it was expected that we would be well behaved and we were. Even the trouble makers in the class were “well behaved” and we were also a close-knitted group.
My friend’s pen fell under my seat one day and she quietly asked me to fetch it. Being the helpful classmate I was, I bent down, picked up the pen touched her. Little did I know that my maths teacher saw our brief encounter and drew his own conclusion without asking any question.
The next think I knew I was being asked to get out of his class. I then said “Sir, I was just trying to give her a pen which fell under my desk.” He responded “YOU MORON, YOU IMBECILE, YOU NICOMPOOP, WAS JUST!” I then said: “Sir, you are assuming that we were talking”. He responded by writing the word assume on the board underling the word ASS in the process. He then said: “ASSUME! When you assume you become an Ass! If I were in Guyana right now I would give you a whooping!” (Recently a former classmate said the phrase is “make an ASS out of you and me”, that phrase I learnt as I got older but at the time of the incident that wasn’t what I heard). Again, if I could just disappear, I would have.
The boys in class said something about him “styling me up” in class at the time, trying to come to my defence however most persons were too afraid to even bat their eye after that verbal lashing I had just received. I therefore submitted to his request and exited the room.
That was the first and only time recall ever being asked to leave a class. I stepped outside and started to bawl (cry). My sister was the school’s Head Girl (female lead prefect) at the time. She and the Head Boy (male lead prefect) were doing their rounds when they saw me on the corridor and made enquiries about what had happened.
The next thing I knew was that the school’s Dean of Discipline came to my assistance. I told him how unfairly I was treated and that I was going to tell my mother. The Dean of Discipline asked me not to call my mother and that he would sort out the issue.
My mother was extremely upset. She was a maths teacher herself and said that the incident should have never occurred. She however said she would wait to see what would happen since the Dean of Discipline, whom she knew and trusted, assured me that he would have resolved the matter.
The resolve: I was transferred to the male Vice Principal’s class. What the enemy meant for evil God meant it for good. It was a blessing in disguise!
Change Gave Me Hope & Inspiration – I Survived!
My new maths teacher was the total opposite of all the other teachers I had. He was gentle. All the “slow learners” who were in his class loved him. I will never forget how he made me and my classmates feel when he assured us that we could do maths.
That was when all the “math slow learners” started to compete in his class. I would never work a maths question on the chalkboard until I had Mr. Williams. I was just too scared. I couldn’t believe it! I started loving maths!
I hated the teacher who had insulted me in the 10th Grade. I also remained in my regular class for my other subjects. It was a pity that I was transferred after our internal examination which was used to determine what proficiency a student would be recommended to sit in the external examination.
I was therefore recommended to sit the CSEC Basic Mathematics Examination (That in itself was seen as an embarrassment to many). I was disappointed, but my mother encouraged me to do it as there was only one component of the written paper that was different and that it would give me practice for the General Proficiency which I could sit the next year as I would have been 15 years old at the time of the exam.
The day of reckoning came. I collected my results at the office. There I saw my profile which read:
Computation A, Comprehension A, Reasoning A
I was ecstatic! I had completed my maths exam so quickly that day that I had time to catch a nap. The hard work paid off. I did not care about the proficiency all I cared about was that I was not a Moron.
Although it was August and school was not in session, I ran over to the school hoping to see some of my teachers. The first teacher I saw was that 10th Grade maths teacher who had insulted me. Me had already reviewed the grades of all those who sat the external examinations. As I walked by he uttered: “I knew you could do it!”
IF LOOKS COULD KILL he would have died on the spot. The look that I gave that man said a lot without me uttering a word. He had the gall to even want to take credit for my performance. Well, not a credit was due to him. I hated him. I have however forgiven him although he did not apologize to me for what he did or said to me. If it wasn’t for my mother and Mr Williams I would still be fearing and hating maths. I probably would have given up thinking that I deserved the label he had given me (well that’s what my 14 yr old mind told me at the time), however, what the enemy meant for harm had worked out in my favour as I then realised when given the opportunity to do the advance course the odds weren’t stacked against me. I had the same opportunity as others to excel as I had increased confidence, hope, experience and people who believed in my potential.
- Our words can build or break. Yes words can hurt but you will SURVIVE!
- Never Give Up!
- If at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again.
- Not all teachers are the same.
- I am not who you say I am. I am who GOD says I am.
- I can do all things through him who strengthens me!
- People may forget something you did but not how you made them feel. Case in point I am writing this article twenty four years later and I am recalling strong emotions elicited that day in the 10th I was angry, embarrassed, I was hurt!
- Don’t dwell on the wrong that has been done to you. Forgive and move on as out of evil can come forth good. For each negative situation that we encounter there is a lesson to be learnt. Learn it and move on. Also, sometimes bad things happen to good people. It’s a part of life. Life isn’t always fair. Use the situation to propel you towards greatness.
Matthew 6 v 14
Ephesians 4 v 32
Colossians 3 v 13
II Corinthians 2 v 7
I am a beautiful black woman, strong and tall who is trying to be the best she can be regardless of whatever adversity she has to face, position she has or role she has to play, but I would like to know right now…….Do u think I am weak?
I have been a fighter all my life, as far as I remember, I ‘ve been in fist fights, hung out with the boys and competed with class members, in sports, academics and debates to name a few, all these things I saw as a challenge and many times I got frustrated too.
Many times I cried when things didn’t go my way, if I fell, lost or even got confused about whatever it is that I had to do or say. My teachers encouraged me, family supported me through whatever tasks I had to do, although sometimes I felt alone, I know God was there with me too.
I have doubted many times the talents that I have, I managed to survive the good and the bad, an assault, being happy and being sad, being fired from a job and even people thinking that I am mad. But I want to know right now, what do you think of me? Do you think I am weak, tell me oh tell me please?
I am the second of three girls for my mother and father, my mom always told me I was her son as far back as I can remember. I climbed trees, spun wheels and even fought my sisters, the dare devil, the challenger and even the track team member. The first one to do a lot of things I competitions, work, date, come home after midnight and even got fired from my first job just because I believed that girls and 16 year olds also had their rights.
I managed to not embarrass my parents by having a” not too bad” academic record; once in high school I fell from 3rd to 42nd place in my class within a year, shocked my parents out of their wits and I got a stern warning that semester to “buckle up or else you will feel the consequences of your behaviour”.
But the problems that I had back then were all in the mind, reaching puberty and being the one of the three youngest pupils in my class, whew.. all I needed was some time. I was 12 and in grade 8, I got depressed and so restless, I was a mess inside and out from all the sudden changes.
My sister was one year my school’s head girl, diligent, prim and proper and very articulate, I was then compared to her as being “a rough neck”. (Whew I faced a lot of pressure)!
Being different… yes, that’s me to this date, but one thing I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW, tell me and please be true, of all the things you have heard so far – Do u think I am weak?
I was recognised as being the most outstanding member of the team at work one December, hailed as an entertainer and also a netball player. I graduated as the valedictorian at the university that I attend, even though I was an “Idler” without a 4.0 GPA… that, I didn’t comprehend.
I am a member of the I.R.A, (Idlers Rest Association), seen as an idler at school, yet my group get top grades and help at most school functions yes, oh yes we do.
I worked and studied for 4 years, even got home late at nights, as I lived in rural Jamaica and had to know how to fight, to get what I want, be it at work or school, I jumped many hurdles, made lots of mistakes along the way and didn’t care if I was called a fool.
It meant getting up at 4am, and getting home late, one morning I even took the bus in my “duster” as I was running late. (Ha, Ha)
I love people, I am very sociable and fun-loving too,
I try my best at my tasks as I feel it’s only fair to do.
I hate to fail and will go out on a ledge to help and support my friends
And many can confess that on me they can depend.
I love sports, music, art, writing and will often cry too, as I find these are ways to express myself so that others can understand also, that I am a natural and loving person, high achiever – a survivor who will go through success and failures like all normal humans do .
I may prefer male friends because to me they are easier to talk to, but I am all female inside out and God knows that’s true. One thing I want to know right now, what’s your opinion please, tell me as soon as possible…
Do you think I am weak?
By Lyssa-Ann Clarke Written 2003