"W hat’s a cuckoo?” four-year-old Chaim asked, raising his little eyebrows in puzzlement.

Well, I should never have bothered to describe cuckoo birds and cuckoo clocks, because the next thing I knew he wanted, no, absolutely needed, his very own cuckoo clock.

Chaim is a champion tantrum maker. The decibels he achieves puts many of the best tantrum makers to shame. And I perpetually find myself on a tightrope: desperately trying to ward off imminent explosions, while simultaneously holding back from sheer indulgence.

Sensing a brewing tantrum, I told Chaim that if he wanted a cuckoo clock, he should ask Hashem to give him one.

“But I don’t know how to ask Hashem for these things,” he moaned. “And how do I know if He’s listening to me?”

I got down to his level and looked him in the eye. “Hashem is always listening to us, sweetie. You just say ‘Please, Hashem,’ and ask Him for exactly what you need.”

“Please, Hashem,” he begged with every ounce of his being, “Give my Mommy and Daddy enough money to buy me a cuckoo clock!”

After watching Chaim’s pure, unblemished prayer, I started looking into cuckoo clocks, but I soon realized the futility of my hunt. These clocks are masterfully crafted antique items with price tags to match. There was absolutely no way we could even consider that route.

What about China’s best? I mused. A quick surf on AliExpress yielded some results, but they were still too pricey to justify spending that amount of money on a small child’s whim. Reluctantly, I put the matter out of my mind and rehearsed ways to explain how tefillos are not always answered in the way we would like. Not an easy assignment, dealing as I was with an innocent four-year-old who viewed the world in black-and-white terms.

A few days later, I was lazily soaking up the sunshine in the yard, keeping half an eye on the kids playing, when I suddenly caught a glimpse of my reflection in a gleaming black Lexus. The car stopped, and out stepped a well-dressed lady in her thirties. My curiosity piqued, I discreetly observed her. Clicking her heels, she made her way to the trunk and pulled out a bulging plastic bag.

“Would you care for some toys?” she asked, casting a glance in my direction. “My daughter has outgrown them, but they’re all in perfect condition.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 573)