Lessons Of A ‘Loser’: How Chaim Gained His Confidence


I hated recess. No one believes me, but it is true.

Our recess looked something like this: Ari would split the boys up into teams for kickball.  I was mostly chosen last.

“Can’t you kick a ball?”  Ari, the oldest guy in class, would yell from the grass, as I was up to the plate.

He was the best player.  Whenever I was up to kick, I mostly missed the ball.

On one particular day, the other team was creaming us, 10-2. With boys on first and second base, it was my turn to kick.

“Loser!” A boy from the other team called out.

I hated the name calling.

Trying to be just like the boys that day, I gave a grand kick with my left foot, falling to the ground.  I felt a twist and then a pull. I stood up and hopped off the field.

“Ouch!”  I yelled, as I sat myself down on the grassy sideline.

“Maybe you pulled a muscle,” said my friend Randy, who came running to my side.  The other boys just continued to play, but I could see them glancing my way.

“I don’t know, but it hurts.”

I rocked back and forth, as I held my foot now with both hands.

The school nurse came running toward us.  After examining my foot, she wrapped it up with an Ace bandage and handed me some ice.  I hobbled off the field with Randy on one side and the nurse on the other.

I could hear whispers from the playing field: “Loser is hurt.”

The kids in my class were extra mean, I thought. Only Randy understood me. He wore rather thick glasses with big black frames.  The kids called him “Thick Eyes.” He just seemed to shrug it off, and he continued playing with them at recess.

On that day, I asked Randy about it.

“How do you do it?”  I said, as I sat with my foot elevated in the nurse’s office.

“Do what?” Randy said, tilting his head to one side.

“Not let the name calling get to you.”

“I don’t know.  I have no choice,” Randy said, giving me a half smile. “I also think it’s because they tease me about something that I can’t change.”

I had never thought about it that way.

But I thought, it would bother me more if they teased me for being fat or short, something I couldn’t change.  At least I could get better at sports — if I really wanted to. But, in truth, kickball really didn’t matter too much to me. So maybe I, too, could ignore the kids.

Two weeks later, I held my head high and even kicked a few good balls.  Somehow, I felt the boys were nicer. But maybe it was just me; I was working on being myself, and that was best of all.

Discussion Questions

1. What is more upsetting, being teased for something you can change about yourself or something you can’t change?

2. Would you have continued to play kickball with this group of kids?  What are the benefits of continuing or not?

Danielle Sarah Storch is a local freelance writer. “Shabbat Table Talk” is a monthly feature synthesizing Torah insights and lessons for children of all ages.

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