Last week in DC my daughter Eiffel had a mini breakdown. It wasn't totally unexpected as I was fully prepared for her to be overwhelmed by the amount of abortion talk she'd overhear during the March for Life and surrounding events.
There are giant blown-up pictures of abortion victims along the march route that I knew she'd see. Plus, I figured the counter-demonstration we'd face in front of the Supreme Court with women and men in bloody pants screaming "God does not exist!" would be a new experience for my 9-year-old as well, and I was fully prepared for all of these talks. What caught me off guard however was what ultimately caught her off guard.
She handled the march like a champ, but that night back at our hotel, all hunkered down for the blizzard, we decided to hang out with some friends from Ireland in the lobby whom we'd had dinner with the previous evening. They're a jolly bunch. They drink too much and smoke too much, but also they say "feck" a lot. According to them this is a word that's less offensive in Ireland than "crap." It's NOT the f-word although it sounds similar, and for us it's probably akin to "freaking." To Eiffel though it was a BAD WORD.
As we were headed down to hang out with them she stopped me. She grabbed my arm and when I looked back I noticed her eyes were filled with tears. She'd been such a trooper the whole trip that this surprised me but I figured something from earlier in the day must've finally gotten to her. I asked her what was wrong and that's when she told me, "I don't want to hang out with them because they're always cussing."
I love her heart. I love her heart so much.
To her their words were inappropriate and offensive. She's always been bothered by swear words in movies and songs, even when her siblings weren't, because she's my rule follower... only I never made a rule against “cuss words.”
I know most good moms do, but to me they're just dumb words. It's a sequence of sounds coming out of someone’s face and most of the time they mean nothing on their own and are only added for extra emphasis. I tried to explain this to her, but she just kept telling me that these words made her feel bad; that they hurt her.
I totally got what she was saying, but at the same time I felt the need to challenge that.
They're words. They're not sticks and stones. Words should never be able to have that much power over us. At least not arbitrary words like "feck" or hell, even "f*ck." As a nation we've become far too comfortable with taking offense at sounds coming out of people's faces. We claim that words hurt us, but I'm sorry, that's simply not true. Every word that supposedly "offends" us we've heard before... which is how we know it's offensive in the first place. It's not a new combination of sounds being introduced to the airwaves that is somehow magically able to assault our eardrums like no word before it.
And if any word should ever really *hurt* us, it should be "abortion." I asked Eiffel when was the last time that THAT word made her cry.
She kept trying to tell me that the other words she heard bothered her more even though she didn't know why and I said that while I understood, the meaning behind words is what really matters... and that's when she finally asked me.
She asked me what abortion really was.
She'd seen the pictures and grasped the general concept, but being the daughter of a prolife activist she'd somehow missed out on the nitty gritty.
We sat on the hotel room floor and I told her. I walked her through the procedures and I explained the different techniques used for different gestational ages. I told her how so many women who choose abortion simply feel that they have no other choice and that is why I, personally, am prolife.
The tears returned to her eyes but this time she couldn't blink them away. As they streamed down her face she looked up and asked me, "How can they let this happen?" And in that moment we had the same heart, because that's a question I ask myself every day.
She finally understood the difference between bad words and bad actions, and the fact that sometimes you can even put pretty words with bad actions. You can kill a child and call it "reproductive justice." You can force a woman into an abortion clinic while saying it's a "woman's right" and "liberating." You can stop someone else's heart from beating while somehow claiming it's still just a part of your body.
Last week my daughter learned a lesson that so many of us are constantly trying to teach our children: Actions speak louder than words.Last week my daughter became an activist.
Post By Destiny
(Photo By Robin Marty)