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F is for Friendship: Fair Game

Ruchama Schnaidman

One of the most important things I learned was how to read my best friend’s face. But not her mind.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

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T here are lots of little things I’ve learned in my lifetime, even though I’m all of 11 years old. Lots of big things too, like how essential chocolate is to survival and that it’s usually wise to bring your notes home from school the night before a test. But seriously, there’s a lot of little things — things I could have overlooked if I didn’t stop to notice them — that taught me big lessons.

One of the most important things I learned was how to read my best friend’s face. Not her mind, her face. Her eyes, forehead, chin, lips, cheeks — they always give away what she’s thinking.

Sounds crazy? Maybe it is, but it’s true.

It’s not only when she’s upset or sad, but also when she’s undecided — that’s when her eyes narrow into little slits and her mouth kind of shifts from side to side. Then there’s this other little twitch of her mouth, it kinda bulges, when she really wants to say something but she won’t.

I’m not imagining all of this, trust me I’m not. Don’t even ask me how or when I noticed her face talking, I just did. I guess when you spend enough time with a person you begin to understand more about them.

Which is a good thing for Penina’ sake, I have to say. My brilliant face reading skills saved her from near disaster — for real.

I’ll start at the beginning.

My school started a new program this year, exclusively for the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. On the second day of school my principal, Mrs. Kasner, gathered all of the middle-school classes into the lunchroom and announced, “Great news, girls!”

She gripped her microphone and beamed at us.

“We’re going to elect a student body council!”

“A what?” we asked as we looked at each other.


“A student body council,” Mrs. Kasner said. “Come on, girls, isn’t that wonderful news?” We weren’t quite sure what her enthusiasm was about until Mrs. Kasner explained.

Basically, we were going to have a group of elected girls, one from each class, who would be responsible for lots of different exciting things throughout the year, including our Chanukah and Purim chagigahs and our school play.

“The elected girls will also have opportunities to invite change to their classrooms based on fellow classmates’ suggestions,” Mrs. Kasner said. “They’ll be responsible to introduce one period of fun-filled activities for their class each month!”

Well, that definitely got us buzzing.

“Sounds amazing!” I said as I nudged Penina’s arm. “Finally, this school is realizing the value of fun.”

“Yeah,” Penina said, but her eyes were on a group of girls sitting in the row ahead of us. Their heads were mashed together and they were whispering excitedly. I moved my head closer and that’s when I knew why Penina’s eyes were darting back and forth.

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