"M ommy, please can I fast tomorrow, puleeze? All my friends are doing it! And I’m already 11, I’ll be fine!”

It was Erev Yom Kippur, and Mommy was busy preparing chicken soup for the seudah.

“Michal,” she said, throwing some carrots in the pot, “you just turned 11 yesterday, so you’re younger than many of your friends. Im yirtzeh Hashem, you have many, many years ahead of you when you will have to fast. But I don’t think it’s good for you to start yet. There’s a reason Hashem said to wait until you’re 12.”

“Mommy, it’s not fair! Please!” Michal’s eyes flashed angrily, and she folded her arms across her chest and waited, hoping Mommy would change her mind.

Mommy tossed some celery on top of the carrots and turned to look at Michal with a serious expression.

“This is really important to you, isn’t it?” Mommy asked.

Michal nodded, holding her breath.

“I guess you can try to make it until chatzos, but no longer than that. And if you’re not feeling well, I want you to break it even earlier.”

Michal heaved a heavy sigh and turned away, blinking back angry tears. It really wasn’t fair. Why, she was practically a bas mitzvah already! Just till chatzos? That’s nothing! Suddenly a determined gleam sparked in her green eyes, and she began to hatch a plan.

On Yom Kippur morning, Michal’s eyes flew open. In a flash, she remembered her grand scheme. Would it work? Flinging her legs over the side of her bed, she hurried to wash and get dressed. Then she slipped on her pink Crocs and padded into the living room to find her machzor. Morah Brown had explained the most important parts of davening, and Michal wanted to try to say all of them. Besides, Morah Brown had also offered a special prize for each girl who davened these tefillos. So Michal opened her machzor and began.

Sometime later, Mommy called, “Michal, it’s chatzos.

Michal stiffened and clamped her lips closed. It was only 1:30! How would she face her friends when they all sit around talking about the fast tomorrow? She would be so embarrassed!

“Please have some cereal and milk,” Mommy instructed. “Or take a bagel and cream cheese. Making it until chatzos is a very big deal,” Mommy added, beaming. “I’m really proud of you.”

Nodding, Michal did her best to smile back at her mother before heading toward the kitchen. But the curve of her lips felt like plastic, and she wondered if her mother noticed. Carefully, Michal turned and checked behind her shoulder to make sure she couldn’t be seen. But Mommy was already opening her machzor again, so Michal decided she was safe.

Okay, Michal, here goes. You always liked drama — here’s your chance to be star of the show! Pull open the cabinet, take out a bowl, and plunk it on the counter… check. Slide open the silverware drawer and get a spoon… check. Open fridge and take out milk… make sure there’s a hefty thump when you put it down… check. Now off to the pantry for cereal… check.

Okay, Miss Actress, the stage is set. She waited a few minutes, the amount of time she figured it would take to eat the cereal, tapped her toes impatiently and glanced at the clock. Quietly and efficiently she then put her bowl and spoon in the sink, put the cereal and milk back where they belonged, and stepped out of the kitchen. Mission accomplished. Now for Act Two. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 679)