I t’s understandable really, how after the disastrous flop of the speech program, we were reluctant to continue with Mrs. Levison’s grand plans. And yet somehow, though I still can’t work out how she did it, I found myself standing on the stage at assembly today, reading stories out loud, titled: If I didn’t care what people thought…

Mrs. Levison made a long introductory speech about all the effort my friends and I put into this program, which made me cringe. (Bad enough everyone thought it was pathetic, did we also have to make it sound like I’d put my heart and soul into it? How positively AWKWARD!) But, as you probably get by now, when Mrs. L. is on her skateboard, the best thing to do is just move out the way, fast. No stopping her.

“And now Libby is going to read out some of your most fantabulous submissions,” she enthused.

So there I was, standing with a box of papers, holding a microphone, in front of a sea of faces. Gulp. Dassi, Sorele, and Bruchi all looked slightly amused in their front-row seats, and my cousin Malki was giving me the thumbs up, Sunday’s misdemeanors apparently forgotten. Thank Heavens for that, I thought.

The thing was, this part of the project really had nothing to do with me at all. Mrs. Levison had announced it in all the classes, with the best submission to be rewarded with a “yet-to-be-decided reward.” The point of it, she’d explained, was to write about something you really want to do, but feel you can’t do because of what other people will think of you.

Some of the submissions were absolutely ridiculous, and had been discarded by the teachers’ brigade even before I’d gotten up on stage. But some of them were actually really good… One girl, for example, had written her whole submission in a brilliant poem: 

If I didn’t care what people thought

I wouldn’t be so overwrought

About my friends, and what they bought

I’d lunch with book and bread

Instead of salads, which I hate,

My appetite they never sate

And making them just makes me late

And lunchtime is a dread

I’d walk to school all on my own

I wouldn’t feel a bit alone

Nor suffer all the inward groans

Politely in my head

Fed up from hearing endless chat

About this teacher’s this and that

I’d get a chance to listen rapt

To thoughts inside, instead.

I noticed that not many people seemed to appreciate the genius behind this girl’s rhyme. I also decided that we were probably kindred spirits and I resolved to track her down: Come out of your hiding place, whoever you are… Libby is waiting! I grinned at my own ridiculous sense of humor. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 658)