I was in my workshop putting the final touches on Shifra’s earrings. The split-lapping machine was on, and I fumbled around for the compound and poised the earring to polish it. I was so excited, she was coming by tonight.

“Abby?” I heard Rafi calling my name. Were he and Daniel home already? They’d gone to the Mishkan fair, a father-and-son affair. I wasn’t complaining, it was at night, and one less thing to have to go to.

I checked the time, 8:30 p.m., not so early, I’d totally lost track. I took off my goggles, wiped my hands, and entered the house. I was about to ask, “How was?” but I didn’t have to. Daniel was glowing with sheepish pride, and Rafi might as well have been thumping his chest in paternal delight.

“It was amazing!” Rafi thundered.

“I’m sure a whole bunch of kids’ Mishkan projects was fascinating. Popsicles sticks and all.” I remarked.

“No, most were a mix of Lego, Duplo, and Playmobil. Daniel’s blew everyone’s out of the water. It almost wasn’t fair to have his there; it made everyone else look so bad.”

I looked at Daniel for confirmation; he smiled shyly at me and tried protesting.

“Plotzker’s father made really big Mizbeiach and spray painted it gold,” he offered.

“Father?” I said after him.

Rafi cut in, “Yeah, no one told me it’s a father-son project.” He winked. “Good thing Daniel had you, or I’d be in the ER with a nail through my thumb, and he’d have a plank of wood with some glue and glitter on it.”

“But you did it mostly yourself; I just helped you in the beginning,” I said, talking more to myself than Daniel.

“Right.” Daniel smiled with unabashed pride. I did something right, or rather Rafi helped me do something right by not letting me help more after I got him started and showed him the techniques.

I looked around the kitchen. “So where’s the Choshen?” I asked.

Daniel beamed again, “The rebbeim asked if they could keep it; take turns using it to teach from in class.”

“Really?! Wow.” I shot Rafi a look, he didn’t seem to notice; he was too busy smiling.

“Yeah, and so many kids wanted to check it out; they want you to teach them how to do it.” Daniel was bobbing like an eager puppy.

I laughed and pulled a face — in their dreams. “Not sure about that,” I said.

“So I can teach them!” Daniel said, undeterred. Suuuure kid, you do that. I studied him a moment. He wanted to do it, he wanted to be with others, this whole Choshen business was like his final ticket to social acceptance — both ways.

There was a lull and then Daniel said, “Thanks for everything, Ma.” He came over and hugged me. Daniel hugged me. I can’t remember the last time he did that. My heart melted. I looked at Rafi, he shrugged and smiled. I looked down and leaned my head on Daniel’s, smelling his hair, oh my, he needs a shower, but I was so happy he’s happy. Yet something nagged at me. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 576)