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Jr. Tales: The Cleanup Crew

Rachel Stein

Seriously, he wondered, what is the point of making your bed if you’re just going to mess it up again every night?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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S unbeams streamed through Chaim’s window, inviting him to run outside and enjoy the unseasonably spring-like weather. He could hardly wait to jump on his bike and ride down the trail at the end of his block. Maybe he would invite his best friend, Leizer, to come along. 

But once he got home, he thought gloomily, hours of work awaited him. He had written the book report for language arts, but it had mysteriously disappeared. And his teacher told him that if he didn’t turn it in by tomorrow, already past the deadline, he’d get an incomplete on his report card. Well, he comforted himself, at least he could have a little fun today before getting to work. But the moment his mother poked her head inside his room, he could tell trouble was brewing. Because even though the sky looked like blue crystal, Mommy’s eyes flashed dark and stormy.


“Chaim,” she said in a no-nonsense tone, her arms folded tightly, “your room.”

Chaim’s face was a picture of innocence.

“What’s wrong, Ma?”

Leveling a stern gaze at him, she took a tentative step forward and swept her arm from corner to corner.

“What’s wrong?” she echoed, pointing in every direction. “I don’t know how you can live like this. Papers piled up, dirty clothes strewn all over, games and books lying all around. Chaim, your room must be cleaned up — today. Before you go anywhere or get busy with anything else.”

Whoosh! Chaim felt like a balloon that had just been poked by a needle, all of its air hissing out.

“Okay,” he agreed sadly, wondering if he would finish the job during this calendar year. So much for bike riding…

“Can’t wait to see your room all cleaned up,” Mommy said as she walked out. “You’ll see. Once you get started, it won’t be so bad. And you’ll feel so much better when everything is in place.”

Chaim shrugged. He was feeling fine with the way things were and didn’t really see the point in operation cleanup. Seriously, he wondered, what is the point of making your bed if you’re just going to mess it up again every night? And if he didn’t mind things scattered all over his floor, why should it bother Mommy? It was his room, wasn’t it?

Suddenly, a mischievous glint sparkled in Chaim’s eyes. In a flash he jumped up, and thrust piles of stuff under his bed. Then, ever so carefully, he pulled his comforter over the front side of his bed, smoothing out the wrinkles. Now I can go, he thought happily, casting a satisfied look at his neat-looking room.

“See you later, Ma,” he called, rushing outside. “I’m going bike riding.”

“Chaim?” Ma’s question dangled, like a kite floating in the air.

“Don’t worry,” he replied. “My room is perfect! Just like you said.”

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