"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Saturday 20 January 2024

Careful The Things You Say

Growing up in the 1950s and 60s meant that being different was unacceptable. What I felt in my bones was confusing; desires for something that was forbidden because of an appendage that shouldn't have been there. I might have defied most of society, but my life of self-loathing began with things carelessly spoken by people I trusted. What was said wasn't directed at me but it hit home. 

Any man who was less than manly got called 'girly man' in a tone that spoke hatred. Being called 'sissy' was just about the worst thing a boy could hear. To admit a need to be one of the girls was unthinkable.

I was lucky enough to live past the depression that set in as I became an adult by determination alone. No, I wasn't determined enough to go to a doctor and admit who I was. It seems certain that would have got me a ticket to an insane asylum in those days. Instead, I did what so many of us did back then. I went into deep denial, becoming as manly as the rest of the men I knew just to get on with my life. I had wonderful, manly, role models. The façade was born. 

Here is my plea to parents and all role models. If you really love someone, accept them as they are, no matter what expectations you might have had of them. But there is more. Even though you might love someone enough to accept them when you are informed, avoid damaging your relationship with them by speaking carelessly about others. Please take care what you say. Children who might not be able to do anything about their feelings will listen. If they think you and everyone else hates them, they will hate themselves, too. Think how you will feel if you find out they killed themselves because they knew you would hate them. 

If someone truly hates everyone who dares to be different, they must also be determined enough and crass enough to hate their own children when they turn out to be different, too. 

Children listen. They learn what you really think and really believe by observing you. Once said, a derogatory comment about gays or lesbians or trans people cannot be unsaid. If your child isn't strong enough to ignore you and move ahead on their own - if they take what you have said to heart - they might just decide that dying is preferable to disappointing everyone by being authentic. 

If you think this has been featured before, you are a true fan! 

Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see.
And learn.
Children may not obey,
But children will listen.
Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.
Careful before you say,
'Listen to me.'
Children will listen.

Careful the wish you make,
Wishes are children.
Careful the path they take,
Wishes come true,
Not free.
Careful the spell you cast,
Not just on children.
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you...

Careful the tale you tell.
That is the spell.
Children will listen...

from Into the Woods
written by Stephen Sondheim


  1. Halle , I have followed you of and on for many years , what a wonderful post , it is so true, I can relate in so many ways , having grown up in the 50’s and 60’s , thank you So much ❤️ Susie

    1. Thank you for this Susie. Much love sent back.

  2. We are in the process of turning the page on the darker times you and I and others experienced. We aren't there yet but judging by the generation of my children we are well on our way :))

    1. Yes, we are on our way Joanna. I would love to say that this world with AI and mega-wealth (and mega poverty) was one that was better, but I'm not sure it is.
      Perhaps it is enough to agree, that for trans-youth at least, it is a kinder, more understanding world. Certainly, the sort of darkness we experienced has disappeared, and that is good.

    2. Yes and I do worry about poverty and inequality as you know from my blog but at least we have transparency which is far better than living in the shadows my dear friend