Isnap the holder one last time around the end of my braid and smooth the flyaway pieces at the front. Out-of-control hair pulled back, check. I skip down the creaky stairs and bound into the kitchen. All siblings assembled, check.

“Okay, Brick bunch, let’s do this,” I say.

Tzippy wrinkles her nose at me, slips gracefully onto the counter, and perches there Indian-style.

“Atteeeenn-tion!” she yells into cupped hands.

Simchi stares at her, little forehead creased in confusion.

“Sorry, kiddo,” she says more slowly, and this time he nods.

“Nice going, Tzip,” Tzviki says, and she rolls her eyes at him.

“Peanut gallery, shush. I hereby call this candy-apple-making session to order.”

Catcalls break out all around, Simchi covers his face, unsure of what’s happening.

“Come, little guy,” I say softly, scooping him up and burying my face in his thick blond hair. Why is it that the boys always get the gorgeous hair? Both Tzviki and Simchi have straight blond hair that I would kill for. Even Chunah has dark, glossy locks I would steal if I could. The girls are all auburn, although I was the only one who got my father’s wild curls.

I hand Simchi an apple from the huge basket on the table. He holds it solemnly.

“Okay, a little slower, people,” I say, and everyone nods.

I deposit Simchi on the window seat and turn back to the gathered crew. “Um, guys? Can we make these apples already, so that we can eat them already?” I ask plaintively, and everyone laughs.

“Commence Operation Caramel!” Tzippy shouts, and all chaos breaks loose.

We lounge on the back porch afterward, crunching and dripping and laughing. Mommy comes out, eyes sparkling, a dab of paint on the side of her chin.

“You guys! You made candy apples without me?” she mock-pouts.

I lean over and give her a hug. “It was nothing personal,” I assure her. “Just a matter of starvation.”

Tzippy hands Mommy her apple, a gooey mess of chocolate and caramel.

Mommy makes a brachah and takes a big bite. She closes her eyes. “Mmmm,” she says contentedly, licking caramel off of her fingers. “I’m thinking fried chicken and onion rings for dinner?” she asks, eyebrows raised at the lot of us.

We all chime in our agreement, but inevitably we turn to look at Simchi. Mommy lifts his chin and speaks slowly. “Does that sound yummy, Simchi-boy?” she enunciates.

We wait while he drops his chin down to his chest. He wants Mommy to give in and sign, but Mommy just lifts his chin again and repeats the question. Finally he nods, and we all cheer again.

Mommy says signing is great, but she needs Simchi to read lips if he’s ever going to be ready to go out into the world by himself. He’s not thrilled about the change, to say the least.

“Okay, cooking crew, fan out!” Mommy orders.

It’s my and Chunah’s turn tonight; we head into the kitchen and tie on our Brick Brunch Bunch aprons. Mommy puts on a classical CD and the kitchen soon fills with the sounds of music and the scent of frying chicken.

I wash my hands, glassy-eyed, thinking about my conversation with Rus during math class. I’d been invited to her grandmother’s for Shabbos, but only me, not Shiri, which was super weird, since the three of us do everything together.

I feel a kiss on my head, I looked up into Mommy’s smile.

“Everything okay, peanut?” she asks softly.

I shake my head and blink. “Mmm, yeah. Just thinking about something Rus said.” I turn and face her. “She invited me to Grandma Shapiro’s, but not Shiri. Weird, huh?” (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 704)