“A h, another magazine here to tell us what a lousy job we did.” Zalman carried the magazine in from the porch and slammed it down on the kitchen table, where Pessy was still eating breakfast.

He peered at the cover; on it was some smug, up-and-coming chinuch superstar, arms folded, and eyes crinkling with good humor as he reminded parents, There are No Bad Kids.

Zalman shook his head. “Too late for us, stupid people; we thought chinuch meant teaching kids right from wrong and trying to make them better people. Teaching them how to try harder and deal with hardship and behave like a mentsh. No one told us—” he picked up the magazine, mock-reading the article even though the magazine was still ensconced in its plastic slip-cover, “so we didn’t know that every child is special, they want to be good, it’s not their fault. That you can’t teach an elephant to climb a tree—”

“A fish,” said Pessy, and then quickly regretted it.

“Oh, gevaldig, a fish, thanks for setting me straight.”

He picked up his car keys. “Have a great day, Pessy. I’m going to say mazel tov to Spitzer straight from work, but I’ll be home for supper around seven.”

She smiled. “Hatzlachah, Zalman.” She was determined that he wouldn’t leave on a bad note. “That’s so nice that you’re going. He’ll feel good that you’re coming, he looks up to you.”

He grimaced, but she knew he appreciated it just the same. (Excerpted from Calligraphy, Issue 704)