Thursday, October 26, 2017

That Little Voice

Do me a favor . . . consider for a minute things your father or mother said to you while you were growing up.

I’m willing to bet you can come up with three or more statements made by one or both of your parents and as you remember them, I bet you can not only picture who said them but the facial expression and body language, hand gestures, eyes, mouth of the parent saying them. They are that fresh in your mind. Would I be correct in that guess?

In my own childhood, I can hear and picture my mom saying:

-         “Oh my mother’s hat!” (Whatever that meant.)
-         “My mother’s mustache!” (Again, no idea, other than perhaps a picture of the bearded lady in a circus, I guess.)
-         “Just wait until your father gets home!”
-         “Whatever Paddy shot at and missed!” (What, she was a pretty good shot? Maybe a lousy shot? Who knows?)

My father had much more colorful phrases, but I don’t feel comfortable writing too many of them here. They would make us kids laugh, while my mom would admonish him. He’d either laugh or smirk, his eyes catching ours. One of my favorites was:

-         “That could knock a buzzard off a manure wagon at forty paces!” (Speaking about a smell, and he never used the word manure. Not ever.)

While these were funny and perhaps clever, though somewhat confusing, there were others that caused us to wince. Maybe even caused a bit of pain, at least emotionally.

Back in middle school, I was the drummer and lead singer for a rock and roll band. We did mostly covers of songs, but there were a few originals. Eventually because I did most of the lead vocals, I was moved up front and another drummer was brought in. In high school, I did a lot of solo work for our school choir and eventually, cut a few demos for record companies.

I never made it then or now, for that matter. But I did try. They told me I had a nice voice but because I didn’t play guitar or write my own music, they couldn’t take a chance on me. I didn’t give up. I remember thinking that I had wanted music as a career. Perhaps a kid’s dream. Probably not realistic. Looking back, I didn’t have a chance in a million, really. But I remember my dad telling me, “You’ll never make it.”

As I said, looking back, I didn’t really have a chance, but it was my dream and my goal regardless of how unrealistic. But to hear my father telling me that hurt. And after all these years, his words and the picture of him telling me this stuck with me. And, I did give up that dream.

I think back on other things that were said about or to me by others, not just my parents.

“You’re just another Lewis kid!” Because I stuttered in my early grades, a teacher told me to “talk correctly!” I remember a teacher telling the class that she wanted to hear from the smartest and second smartest in the room, so she called upon two of my friends, leaving the rest of us feeling kind of . . . stupid? Kind of . . . ignorant?  Kind of . . . not good enough?

I think back to things I said to kids as a teacher or coach, even as an administrator and shake my head knowing that I might have, probably did, cause some pain. I think of that even now years later.

You see the things adults, especially adults with titles say to kids last a long time. Those words and phrases and gestures stay with us. They can hurt and they usually do hurt. Those words sometimes play on a never ending loop.

Wouldn’t it be better to use words that help build up? Maybe use words that encourage rather than discourage? Correct the action of a kid without denigrating the kid, without belittling the kid, without the sarcasm that can be taken several different ways? Because the words of encouragement, the words that lift up- we remember those too. We hear them even now. And yes, we see the teacher, the parent, the significant other saying those positive messages to us. Even now. Even today. Better, those words we play on a never ending loop. Better, that voice in the back of our mind. Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:

I have great news!

My fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction, Caught in a Web will be published by Black Rose Writing in April of 2018. While I complete the necessary edits and wait, I am finishing up my sixth, Spiral Into Darkness. As always, I will keep you posted on the progress of Caught in a Web and Spiral Into Darkness.

Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at:                                   

Amazon at:                               

If you like Thriller/Suspense fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 the Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Agent Kelliher and two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.            

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.          

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
Six desperate and violent men escape. One of them stands in a kitchen facing a 14 year-old-boy with a gun. There are many reasons for the boy to pull the trigger. Mainly, the man had started it all.           

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year-old-boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers.

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe