T he manager of the Home for Children with Disabilities, a small, harried-looking fellow, shook his head in dismay.

“Nothing’s working,” he declared. “We’ve tried at least a dozen ways to get Yochanan to eat the high-protein food the doctor recommended. He won’t touch a thing.”

Yochanan, a pale, tired-looking boy in a wheelchair, just sat there weakly, saying nothing. He wasn’t trying to be difficult; the trouble was that he had no appetite. The thought of putting food into his mouth, especially high-protein food, made him nauseous. He wished everyone would just leave him alone.

The manager stepped aside to talk to the nurse. “It looks like we’re going to have to arrange for Yochanan to be tube fed,” he shrugged. “The doctor told us to avoid it if at all possible, but he’s just getting weaker, and we can’t really push it off any longer. Call the hospital to make arrangements, please. Gotta run, there’s work do be done.”

The nurse was horrified. “There must be another way,” she protested. “Maybe if we try finding out which foods Yochanan is particularly partial to...”

“We’ve tried everything,” responded the manager briskly. “It’s time for the hospital to take over. Gotta run, there’s work do be done.”

He was about to rush off when the nurse stopped him again.

“Wait!” she called urgently. “I’ve got an idea!”

The manager waited reluctantly.

“What about that clown fellow, Jolly Shmolly or whatever his name is? Why, all the children loved it when he came to visit a while ago. Even Yochanan perked up and got some color in his cheeks. Maybe we could use a visit from him as an incentive to get Yochanan to eat?”

The manager thought this over.

“Tell you what,” he said at last. “I’m prepared to try once. But if it doesn’t work, it simply isn’t safe to push things off any longer, and it’s off to the hospital with Yochanan. Gotta run, there’s work do be done.”

The nurse, who had a soft spot for Yochanan, worked out her plan carefully. She made a chart, and explained to Yochanan that every high-protein food he ate would earn him a check. When every box on the chart was filled in, Jolly Solly would be invited in for a visit. The nurse even got hold a picture of the clown, and stuck it on the chart as an incentive.

To her delight, Yochanan seemed excited by the plan; that very day, he showed the first interest of food in weeks. He only ate a couple of spoonfuls of a high-protein mix, but it was a start — and earned him his first check.

The next day he managed three spoonfuls. On the third day, the nurse noticed color in his cheeks, and that he was sitting a little more upright in his wheelchair. On day four, he finished a whole bowl of nourishing soup! How all the staff and the other children clapped and cheered.

By Friday lunchtime, every single box was filled in. A grinning Yochanan waved his empty dinner bowl about triumphantly to show his friends. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 660)