After I said my little speech I could see the wheels turning. Finally she said, “Mommy, something happened awhile ago that I forgot to tell you about. I was going to tell you, but I forgot and just now remembered.” I braced myself. This could either be something really big that needed action, or something really minor that was only important in her 7 year old mind…either way, how I responded to this was going to set the tone for the future.
Ella: “A few weeks ago a kid called me a name.”
Me: “What did he call you?”
Ella: “He called me a monster.”
Insert complete heartbreak. I choked back the tears. How could someone say something so cruel to my beautiful, sweet, kind daughter? Ella would never hurt a fly…I know she wouldn’t do anything to prompt such a harsh word. And where were his parents? Why didn’t they correct this behavior?
I stopped and looked Ella directly in the eye.
Me: “You are not a monster. You are my beautiful, sweet girl who is kind and loving. Monsters are in movies and are ugly and mean and scary. You are NOT a monster. You know that, right?”
Ella: “Yes, I know.”
We talked about the situation a bit more, then I thanked her profusely for telling me and told her how proud I am of her and what an amazing and loving girl she is.
I realize that this boy is someone we don’t know. Ella didn’t know his name and says she hasn’t seen him since. We don’t know his parents and the likelihood that they read this blog is slim to none. But I wanted to write this for one main reason…to ask all of you to please talk to your kids and grandkids (and anyone else who will listen) about the power of words. This incident happened several weeks ago, yet the power of that word…monster…has remained with Ella. It has been buried deep in her heart. When she hears the word in a book or sees a monster in a movie, she goes back to that interaction and sees herself on the same level as the horrible creature being displayed.
They say that it takes 10 positive words to cancel out 1 negative word. Teach your children to focus on the positive. Show them how to be one of the 10 positives because you never know how many negatives a child is hearing.