the first day of school to be precise,
while I was stalling,
trying to drown my Cheerios,
my mother (trying to give me courage I guess)
said: "Just remember, sticks and stones can break your bones,
but words can never hurt you."
I didn't understand,
so stayed confused and scared,
but I took her hand and let her walk me to the bus stop.
It was my first time being on a bus,
and it was so big,
but seeing the support in my mother's eyes
I let myself be swallowed by the yellow machine
with the big sideways mouth.
As I did over and over and over,
the days running together into months.
After a while I thought I understood my mother's words
and even used them
to the kids' amazement.
And they started using them,
to my amazement.
I thought about how smart my mother must be,
and how she must know everything,
just like the kids seemed to think I did.
So I started believing in her words,
But it's hard to keep up the illusion
of knowing everything
when you're learning things for the first time
just like everyone else.
I mean, you can only say: "Oh, I knew that."
so many times before kids become tired of it
and angry at you.
So after a few more years
of being swallowed, shipped and deposited
I began to play with my Cheerios again,
and to dread the big yellow bus
For the kids had learned to USE words
and had turned teasing into an art form.
Disappointed, I realized that my mother didn't know everything.
And I vowed to tell my children,
when they were staring into their cereal bowls,
to beware, because...
Sticks and stones may break your bones,
but well thrown words can kill you.