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hursday is the last day of my suspension. I spend it sleeping late, helping Mommy cook for Shabbos, and then in a moment of insanity, I offer to clean the toy closet for Pesach. Mommy smirks at me as she hands me a shmatteh and Fantastik spray.

“You definitely know the way to forgiveness,” she says, winking.

Ha ha.

There’s actually something soothing about sorting Magna-Tiles and Clics into their respective buckets, and the hours pass with surprising haste. I finish just in time to help Mommy make dinner, and by the time the family sits down to enjoy a salad of seared salmon and baby spinach leaves, I’m exhausted.

“Being suspended is hard work,” I say through a massive mock yawn that quickly morphs into a real one.

Sari throws a napkin at me and Abba shakes his head, though I can see he’s laughing.

I wash dishes after the blueberry pie is cleared away. My eyes glaze over, hands scrubbing rhythmically. Back to school tomorrow. When I left I’d been part of the most popular clique in school and now I’m returning alone, a nobody, ashamed and mortified.

Mortified. Because it is all my fault. My fault that I ignored the other girls in the class, that I’d never once asked about their likes or dislikes, their families or hobbies. My fault that the first friendship I’d made in Stonesworth had crashed and burned.

My fault that the teachers think I’m entitled, as Mrs. Friedman had so eloquently put it when she suspended me. “Only a feeling of entitlement and superiority would propel a girl to leave our secure school grounds, with our delicious food court, to go off elsewhere for sushi.”

To top it off, the sweet office staff think I’m a brainwashed puppet.

And let’s not even discuss my sisters…

A tear rolls down my cheek and plops into the sink, disappearing into the suds.

Ugh. I am so sick of self-pity, so sick of feeling miserable. Simchi wanders into the kitchen, rubbing his eyes sleepily.

I hand him a cup of water and walk him back to his bed. Kissing his forehead, I marvel at his peaceful nature, how this little boy in a large silent world always seems content. He never complains, never cries that life’s not fair. He just marches on, taking side roads when he needs to, but always moving forward.

“You inspire me,” I murmur against his sleeping cheek.

And although I know there’s no way he’s heard me, a sweet smile breaks across his face.

I head back to the kitchen and start pulling out mixing bowls and muffin tins. I’m bone tired, but there’s one more thing I need to do before returning to Bais Yaakov of Stonesworth. It’ll be just one tiny teardrop in a sink full of consuming suds, but hopefully, it’ll be the start of something new.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 759)