M r. F. F. Faigelbaum, the famous bird expert, was going away on another of his trips. This time, he was flying to Venice, to observe the habits of the widgeon — a fascinating type of dabbling duck that made its home on the Venetian canals.

“Are you sure you and Efraim will be all right?” he asked his wife for the tenth time.

“Yes, dear,” replied Mrs. Faigelbaum. “I told you that the Morrises have offered to take Efraim on Sunday afternoon. The rest of the time we’ll be fine. Don’t worry about a thing. You go and enjoy your dabbling ducks.”

The Morrises watched from across the road as Mr. Faigelbaum loaded his luggage into the car, waved goodbye to his wife and son, and drove off. Efraim, who was in his mother’s arms, waved his pudgy little hand back vigorously.

“Aw, isn’t he cute?” commented Leah Morris. “I can’t wait for him to come on Sunday.”

“Me, either,” agreed her sister Chavi.

“I’m gonna prepare all sorts of fun activities for him to do,” declared Leah.

“And I’ll put out some picture books. I’m sure he’ll enjoy them.”

Moishy Morris too could barely contain his excitement. It would be like having the brother he’d always dreamed of, even if it was for just one afternoon. Oh, what a great time they would have together.

“And you’ll have a little friend to play with,” he told his little sister Miriam. “Won’t that be nice?”

Miriam just stared unblinkingly at Efraim and said nothing. How could anyone think Efraim Faigelbaum was a suitable friend for her? Why, she was a big girl who went to Morah every day, with a proper lunchbox, while Efraim just stayed home and played.

Sunday finally arrived, and Mrs. Faigelbaum brought Efraim over in his stroller, bundled up in a blanket embroidered with duck motifs. The big Morris girls pounced on him excitedly, as Mrs. Faigelbaum made a quick exit.

Efraim stared at the two girls for a moment, then looked around for his mother. As soon as he realized she was gone, he opened his mouth and began to wail. Loudly.

“Waaah! Waaaaah!”

And as Leah and Chavi looked on in horror, he turned the volume up higher:

“Waaaaah! Waaaaaaah!”

In vain they tried to soothe him, and reassure him that his mother would be back soon.

“Sshhh, sweetheart,” crooned Leah.

“Hush, honey,” echoed Chavi.

It was no use. Efraim refused to be comforted.

Leah rushed to bring the coloring activity she had prepared. Efraim flung the crayons all over the room. Chavi tried to get him to look at a picture book. He threw it on the floor.

“Here, I bet I can get him to stop,” declared Moishy. “We boys understand each other.”

He grabbed some toy cars, and presented one to Efraim.

“Nice car!” he said. “Vroom vroom!”

Efraim knocked the car out of his hand, narrowly missing hitting Moishy on the nose.

“Hey! Watch out!” cried Moishy.

Leah, Chavi, and Moishy looked at each other despairingly. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 698)