Out of the Mouth of Babes

Dillon woke up Sunday morning not feeling well. He had been battling an ear and sinus infection for over a month, and the war on his senses was starting to take its toll on his emotional as well as his physical defenses. My husband was going out for his traditional Sunday morning cruise in his beloved “63 Thunderbird. I suggested that maybe Dillon could ride with him, in hopes it might cheer him up. Dillon loved riding in the ‘bird with his father, one reason being he was able to ride in the front seat and hang his arm out the window, much like the young riders in the 60s were able to do before the invention of air bags.
However, for whatever reason, Eddie said he couldn’t go. I looked at Dillon and uttered the response many parents haphazardly mutter in times like this, in an attempt to make my husband feel guilty for his perceived selfish call. “Well, Dillon, I guess your daddy just doesn’t love you anymore…”
As soon as his father rounded the corner, Dillon leapt at him to give him a hug. In doing so, he inadvertently hit my husband in his “private parts”, causing my husband to react to the pain by yelling at him not to hit people “there”. Dillon ran out of the room and I truly did not think anything more of it, knowing Dillon is one of those kids who can bounce back fairly rapidly..
But as soon as Eddie left the house, Dillon came to me as I was washing dishes. He looked up at me with his sad blue eyes and his lower lip quivering and resolutely remarked, “You were right, Mom.” As I have never heard him directly acknowledge my correctness on a subject before, I grinned and asked him what it was that I was finally right about. He looked at me in tears and uttered the words no parents ever want to hear, “You were right—Daddy doesn’t love me anymore.” He then reached out and held onto me as if I was his last refuge. Those words that I had so carelessly uttered in order to guilt my husband into taking Dillon with him had been interpreted literally by my emotionally weakened son. I immediately responded by assuring him that his father did indeed love him very much, and I apologized for my thoughtless words, unable to explain why I said them, knowing that his 6-year-old mind would not be able to comprehend the complicated motives behind my remark. I then called my husband and asked him to return, explaining how both of our follies had led our child to wonder, if just for a moment, if his parents would always love him or not.
So often we mutter words, whether in anger, jest or in defense to some perceived injustice, that are not interpreted correctly by the receiving party. The chant we used to recite as children, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is simply not true. Proverbs 18:21a states “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Words possess great power. Words spoken with passion can sway mens’ hearts and lead them places they may be better off not going. Parents of young children need to be careful in choosing their words. We so often forget that they are not capable of abstract thought and reasoning and are unable to comprehend the manipulative motives behind words so carelessly tossed out.

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