Hurting with words, helping with words

The fourth-grader collapsed with a sigh next to where I was sitting with a third-grader in the hallway.

“I can’t figure it out!” the fourth-grader said to me. “I designed my character to be a really, really nice guy. Someone who always helps other people, always wants to do the right thing. So I figured out who hurts him with words, but I don’t know what situation he would ever hurt someone else with words in!”

As part of our new אונאת דברים (Ona’at Devarim– hurting with words) theme, ענפים  (Anafim– “branches” for 3rd-4th grade children) were coming up with stories about a character who both hurt someone else with words, and had themselves been hurt with words.

“I don’t know what to do,” the fourth grader continued. “He’s really nice. He would never say something mean.”

I asked the third grader if he had any ideas that might help.

“Well,” he said, after a pause. “Maybe, you know, when someone said something funny about someone else, and everyone started laughing, even a really good kid who didn’t mean to, might let a little peep out, even if they knew they shouldn’t laugh.”

The fourth grader’s eyes lit up. “Oh yeah!” he said. “That’s perfect! That’s exactly what I’m gonna do.”

“Hey, what do you think of my character?” asked the third grader, holding up his drawing.

The fourth grader paused. “I really like it!” he said. “I think it’s good!”

“Do you think it’s fuzzy enough?” asked the third grader.

“It looks very fuzzy. Just right.” said the fourth grader, as he got up to return to his table.



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