You hurt my feelings. This sentiment, unfortunately, is far too often expressed between friends or relatives. While words have the ability to uplift, they also have the power to destroy. Sometimes we don’t even realize that what we’ve said has caused harm - feelings are hurt. Whether or not we receive an apology, this hurt can linger and change relationships - even ruin them. It can also wound us emotionally, leaving scars on our souls and misshaping our view of others. In my first e-book, ‘Minjy the Robot’, the topic of hurt feelings is addressed. The above character - Sylvie - comes to mind when Julien is verbally tormented by someone cruel. He has a flashback to his youth and tries to draw resilience from a story he learned at school. Here is a sample from the e-book:
Julien was shaking with fear. He knew in his mind and heart that he had done the right thing by going to the store to buy chocolates for the helpers, just as Nash had told him to do. Yet Julien felt helpless hearing the lies that Nash was accusing him of. He just stood there feeling so embarrassed. He could not speak. Julien’s mind was racing. As well, he became frightened by the sight of the red glowing light on Minjy. Indeed, it was a strange, scary sight to him and all of the helpers, but not to Nash.
Julien struggled to gain some sense of composure and tried stand up to Nash, yet he was too stunned and could not. His heart was so pure and good and he had never been treated so badly like this before. Perhaps it was the shock of it all that suddenly conjured up a memory from his childhood. With his eyes closed, Julien felt as though he was suspended in time as he remembered a story that he learned at school.
It was from a book entitled ‘Page of Dreams’, and it was about a young girl named Sylvie who loved animals. She was soft-spoken, polite, and the youngest in her class. Sylvie and her first grade classmates were given workbooks containing blank sheets of paper. One day, the teacher brought out a large box of colorful crayons. The students were instructed to use the crayons to draw pictures in their workbooks.
“Now remember, children,” said the teacher, “please share the crayons with your classmates and put them back into the box when you’re finished. You may draw whatever you like, and afterwards, we will look at everyone’s pictures together.”
The activity took a good part of the morning and the children were having fun. The classroom was quiet as the students concentrated on their drawings. The occasional giggle broke the silence, as some of the kids became amused by what they had drawn. The children were very good at sharing the crayons, although some did become impatient at having to wait their turn for a particular color to be returned to the box.
As the teacher observed her students, she noticed that most of them had finished their pictures. Then she made an announcement to the class, saying, “Okay, children, please return the crayons to the box and we will look at everyone’s drawings.”
Excitement filled the classroom. The students sat with anticipation as each waited for their name to be called. One by one, each child was invited to the front of the room and asked to show their picture to everyone, and to explain what they drew and why they drew it. There were all sorts of drawings of a variety of different things. The students had transformed their blank pieces of white paper into colorful pictures. After displaying their works of art, so to speak, each student received polite applause from the other children and the teacher.
One of the last students to be called up was Sylvie. Normally shy, Sylvie was anxious to show her drawing to the class and practically ran to the front of the room. Everyone looked at Sylvie’s picture which was drawn on the lower right corner of the paper. The image was that of a rabbit, yet it was so small that it took up a small portion of the sheet, leaving the rest blank.
One of the students raised their hand and asked, “What did you draw? It’s so tiny that I can’t even tell what it is.”
“It’s a baby rabbit – a bunny – and they’re suppose to be small,” she replied.
The teacher looked at Sylvie, saying, “That’s a very nice rabbit, but why didn’t you fill up the rest of the sheet? Rather than leaving it blank, you could have added other things to the picture, like green grass, or trees, or pretty flowers. Certainly those are things that go together with rabbits.”
Upon hearing the teacher’s comment, some of the children began to laugh.
“Now, children, it’s not polite to laugh,” said the teacher. “Sylvie has done a good job drawing the rabbit, even though it is rather small.”
The teacher reached down for a pair of scissors resting on her desk. She cut away the picture of the rabbit from the rest of the blank sheet. Then she held up the small piece of paper for all to see, saying, “Always remember to try to fill up as much of the sheet as possible. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a tiny little picture, just like this one.”
Again, there was laughter from the class and even louder than before. The teacher quickly realized that her remark unintentionally made fun of Sylvie’s drawing. Both the teacher and Sylvie were embarrassed, but for different reasons. The teacher had not meant to make her student feel bad, but rather, was merely trying to teach her class a lesson about art. Sylvie, on the other hand, felt ridiculed and could only think that everyone was laughing at her. She began to cry. Upon seeing her tears, the students stopped laughing and the room became quiet. One of her friends came up to Sylvie and gave her a hug. The teacher apologized to Sylvie, who returned to her desk without saying a word.
The ending to Page of Dreams was Julien’s favorite part of the story and always inspired him. Despite Sylvie’s less than favorable introduction to art, she never became discouraged. She knew from an early age that she loved to draw – it was fun for her - and she wasn’t going to let an unpleasant experience get in her way. Sylvie learned the importance of being resilient. She combined her passion for art with her love of animals and went on to become an accomplished artist. She spent a good part of her adult life travelling to Africa, and her paintings of its unique wildlife became famous.
At that moment, Julien knew how Sylvie must have felt after being ridiculed. He remembered the moral of the story – to never give up. He learned the importance of resilience and hoped to persevere with Nash. Yet he realized that for now there was little he could do to challenge Nash. Julien was right - it would have to wait for some other time, or perhaps never. Then, in the blink of an eye, Julien turned around and fled, never to be seen again.
- Minjy the Robot
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