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Tichel Tales: Chapter 2

Gabriella Roth

My 15-year-old actually wants to talk? I try not to let on how exciting this is. I nod slightly, meet her eyes. “Sure, what’s on your mind?”

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

S unday morning. Dassi and I are in the kitchen together for one of those rare mother-daughter moments. I’m putting away the Shabbos dishes, and she’s eating a bowl of cornflakes. “Ma,” she says, “can we talk for a minute?”

This stops me cold. My 15-year-old actually wants to talk? I try not to let on how exciting this is. I nod slightly, meet her eyes. “Sure, what’s on your mind?” I say, ever so casually as I slide down into a kitchen chair.

“Remember how when you started wearing tichels, you said you weren’t going to wear them all the time? That you’d, um, still wear your sheitel once in a while?” she asks in an unsteady voice. “Yes,” I answer cautiously, “I did say that.”

“Well, can you please wear your sheitel to orientation and the school play? And for, uh, every event I have at school or where you’ll see other mothers and the teachers?” she blurts out.

I sink deeply into my seat, and leaning forward I put my head in my hands, and wonder. I'd thought my family had accepted that I wear a tichel. I knew Dassi was embarrassed by it in the beginning, but I'd thought she was used to it by now.

As I debate over how to respond, she rushes to add, “I don’t want you to think I’m not proud of you and your tzniyus-ness, it’s just that, I, uh, don’t want to be the kid who has the mom-in-a-tichel.” I swallow hard. My floral tichel suddenly feels like a football helmet engulfing my head. A wave of anxiety rushes through me. I remember my “coming out party,” the first time I wore a tichel to the shul kiddush.

“Gabby, your tichel is stunning,” Esther generously said, “but only you can carry that thing off.” She turned to her cabbage salad.

Dassi overheard and ducked into the crowd. I gave Esther a half nod and closed smile as I surveyed the rest of the room. Darting eyes through side-swept bangs. Heels clicking right on by me. No one stopped to stay “Good Shabbos.”

A half hour passed and I stood alone, shifting salad on my plate. Was it my tichel or was everyone just busy with other things?

My next foray wearing my tichel was a little better. This time it was to the elementary school annual dinner.

My 11-year-old son, Akiva, was performing in the choir. And he was more than fine with his mother attending in a tichel.

“You go, Mommy!” he said, rooting me on. “l couldn’t care less what anyone thinks.” Then he added: “Plus, when I look out into the crowd, I’ll be able to spot you since everyone else will be in a sheitel!”

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