Be Careful, Words Can Hurt
By Emma

The little girl ran in the house, tears streaming down her face, sobbing as if her heart had been broken three times. She went right into the kitchen, where Mama was, stirring her home-made chicken soup.

"Mama!" she cried, rubbing her sore, red eyes. "Mama! They hate me!"

Mama looked down from her soup. "Calm down, honey. Now, who hates you?"

"The boys on the street do. I was ridin' down the street, like I always do, an' they leaned over their big bikes an' called me ugly an' stupid! They said I was a baby an' couldn't do nuthin'!"

Mama put her spoon aside and took her daughter in her warm arms. They smelled like noodles and herbs, and they were so, so warm.

"You listen to me, girl, and you listen good. Don't be listenin' to what those boys tell you. What do they know about you? You ain't ugly. Your daddy always stops when he comes home from work and tells you how pretty you are. You're not stupid, either. Didn't your teachers tell you how you got nothin' but "Above Average" and "Excellent" on your report card? What about all those ribbons you won for horse-back riding, or the time you got third place in your school's poetry contest? You're plenty smart, girl. They're just ignorant an' immature."

"Why did they say those things if they aren't true?"

"'Cause they thought it would be funny to get you mad. Ignorant and immature people get their kicks that way."

"I wish I could kick THEM! I wish I could call them names and make them feel bad!" She kicked the floor as if it really was the nasty boys.

"Honey, that wouldn't help. You'd be as bad as them. Just don't let it get to you. You're better than that. What about how you help me take care of your baby brother? You can change a diaper and make a bottle. I'll bet they'd all turn green and run if they ever had to change a dirty diaper!"

The girl laughed. "I'll bet they never changed anything worse than their socks!"

Mama put her arm around her. "That's right, honey. Just remember, you're as good as you think you are." She smiled. "Now, what would you say to some home-made chicken soup and corn muffins?"