Careful Speech and Careless Speech: A Story Based on a Barbados Proverb
Especially for Girls

Mama and Papa Flying Fish have two little Flying Fish:
Careful Speech and Careless Speech.
Careful Speech talks about the good, the true, and the beautiful. She notices and points out the good in everyone, every circumstance, and everything. Rather than reveal anyone’s weakness, failings or mistakes, she says nothing.
Careless Speech sees ugly everywhere and talks about the untrue. She speaks negatively about everyone, every circumstance, and everything.
Guess who is happy? Guess who is not?

Careless Speech begins the day with a groan, complains that the sun is too bright, and getting up too hard.
Careful Speech greets every passing fish, comments on the beautiful day and the sparkling sun on the crystal clear water.
“Hope you have a happy day,” she says.

At the race, while the Turtle Twins plug away, Careless Speech says,
“Have you seen how slow the turtles move? They don’t even try!”
Careful Speech encourages them,
“Wow! What effort! Don’t give up. You are almost over the finish line!
The Turtle Twins tearfully thank Careful Speech and then leave before the celebration.

At the Reef Playground, Careless Speech says,
“Look at Seahorse’s long nose! Look at that fat Stingray.
Look at those funny looking lionfish!”
Careful Speech says, “You might hurt others with your words. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Careless responds, “You’re no fun!”
And off Careful Speech swims to explore with her friends.
One by one Seahorse, Stingray and the lionfish slowly swim home alone.
Careless Speech is left playing alone.
Mama Shark swims by and says,
Careless Speech, come with me.

First, Mama Shark takes Careless Speech by the Turtles’ home.
Careless Speech overhears,
“We never want to go to another race! We tried so hard. Careless Speech humiliated us in front of everyone.”
Mama and Papa Turtle comfort the Turtle Twins,
“You did your best and we are proud of you. Only the hurting hurt others. Pity Careless Speech. She will have trouble making friends. Perhaps you can teach her how to be a good friend.”
The Turtle Twins reply, “We never want to go near Careless Speech ever again.”
“I want to go,” says Careless Speech.
Mama Shark asks, “In the future will you build others up or crush their spirits?”

Next Mama Shark takes Careless Speech by the Seahorse home.
“Mama, my nose is too big! I never want to go anywhere!”
“Honey, you are beautiful just the way you are. Anyone that thinks your nose is too big, sees the world through dirty glasses. Pity anyone who doesn’t see true beauty in all creatures. The happy don’t say hurtful things.”
Careless Speech says, “Please, Let’s leave. I wish she hadn’t heard.”
Mama Shark reminds Careless Speech, of the Barbados Proverb: “Every bush is a man.” Meaning: Be careful how you speak, you never know who is listening.

Then Mama Shark takes Careless Speech by the Stingray home.
“Mama, I’m too fat,” cries Stingray.
“Dear one, you are perfectly designed for your purpose. Don’t let miserable words destroy your fun. Let’s go for a swim. You float so well.”
Careless Speech bursts into tears, “I don’t want to hear anymore. I’m so sorry. I wish I could take my words back,” and she swam home.

“Mama, Papa, please help me. What can I do?” cries Careless Speech.
“Let’s brainstorm possibilities. What would you want done to you?”
“Maybe an apology, a card, cookies, a game, kind words, a party. I know, I’ll do it all, and only say nice things or say nothing at all from now on.”

And do you know what? She isn’t Careless Speech anymore. She’s Miss Kind Words. Everyone forgives her and she has many friends.