Little by little a paper doll full of greatest detail took shape. Next came a hat lined with daisies, a shirt with a lacy collar and a skirt nearly covering the feet. Peeking from beneath the hem of the skirt were two tiny shoes decorated with fragile looking buckles. A hair bow, purse with shoulder strap, even rings for the fingers and two dangling earrings were fashioned out of paper. As she worked the wizened mother spoke gently to the owner of two curious blue eyes who watched her every move.
''Our words are like scissors, '' she said. ''The way we use our words has a great affect on other people. With words we can kindly and gently steer others to do good things. We can encourage and support our friends as they try new things. We can comfort hurting people and give compliments to those who always get picked on. When we use our words like this, we help create people who are confident, loving, full of ambition and who feel good about themselves. We assist in shaping people into lovely characters just as the scissors shape the paper into a beautiful doll.''
Soft six year old hands reached to hold the finished paper doll.
''It's beautiful, Mama, '' The little girl spoke. ''Can I keep her?''
''Well, I want to show you something else. '' With a sorrowful look in her eyes the mother reached and took the fragile doll back in her hands. ''Our words also have the power to do something else. Do you know what that is? ''
''No, '' The round eyes clouded with confusion.
''They have the power to cut and to hurt.'' With one quick snip of the scissors a white foot fell to the table. The little girl gasped in horror as the mother continued. ''When we are harsh, mean, angry and unkind, our words hurt.''
The right arm joined the foot on the table and a piece of the skirt. ''Teasing tears a piece of a person's confidence away.'' Another snip of the scissors. ''Yelling angry words causes people to shrink in fear.'' Both legs were now gone. ''Talking back and disrespecting authority takes away people's honor. Too many words at the wrong time can steal a person's hope.''
The little girl looked near to tears as she watched the precious doll that had taken such time and care to create, fall in pieces with quick snips and clips from the sharp scissors. By this time, what had once been a beautiful masterpiece was now lying in over twenty pieces.
''Do you understand what I am saying? '' The mother looked with patience into her daughter's eyes.
The tears brimmed over the edge and made tiny streaks down her summer tanned face.
''The way I told Mandy I didn't want to play her dumb game probably felt like I was cutting her. And when I told Josiah he was a stupid little brother it made him cry. When I yell at you and tell you I don't want to listen to you, I'm hurting you too.'' She paused and wiped her drowning eyes with shaky little fingers. ''I'm sorry, Mommy. What do I do? Is there any way I can fix it? I want the pretty doll back. ''
''I thought you would, '' the mother pulled her sobbing daughter into a loving embrace. ''Hurtful words can never be taken back completely, but with time, patience and great care the cuts that were made by those words can be mended.''
She reached back into the dresser drawer and pulled out a clean sheet of paper and a bottle of glue. Tediously she began sorting the tiny pieces of what was left of the doll. She pasted them one by one onto the sheet of paper. The doll started taking shape. Finally the last fragmented piece was glued in place. The mother once again picked up the scissors and cut around the outline of the doll. When she finished she handed the mended doll to the little girl.
''The scars and memory of what was said and done will always be evident, but at least the doll can be played with once again.''
The little girl received the doll into her hands and walked slowly to her bedroom. She set the doll up on the mirror above her dresser. It would stay there to remind her each day for many years to come what power her words have on other people.