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More Kids Speak
by Chaim Walder
translated by Shifra Slater
Ilustrated by Yoni Gerstein
My name is Judy.
I'm writing this letter in bed. It's eight o'clock
at night, and I'm alone in my room. I'm really
An hour ago, my parents went to a par-
ent-teachers meeting at my school. They left
with smiles on their faces, and my father said,
"We're off to school to fill up our pockets with
nachas." He pinched my cheek and walked out
Oh boy. I've been sitting here since then, with
my heart beating so loud I can hear it! I am really
scared. Do you want to know why? Because my
parents are not going to come back smiling.
They are not going to be happy at all. They'll be
angry, and my father will probably punish me.
They won't be hearing any good news. Far from
You must be wondering why they went out
with such high hopes. I'll tell you. Until recently,
I was considered a really good student. I used to
get high marks on tests, I did all my homework,
my handwriting was neat, and my report cards
were really good.
Every time there was a parent-teachers
meeting, my parents would come home beam-
ing. My father liked to take out his little note
pad and read me all the good things he had
heard and jotted down. My mother would add
some things of her own. And then, they would
present me with the treat they had selected for
me on their way home. I always felt so good.
But this time, I dread the "present" they're
going to bring me. Even worse - - I dread how
disappointed they'll be!
They're going to hear some really bad things.
You see, a few months ago I stopped being a
good student. My homework, when I did it at
all, was half-done, and sloppy. And the marks
I've been getting on tests - - it's hard to believe
they're mine. In class, I just sit and dream...
The teacher keeps calling me to her desk to ask
me what's wrong.
But I never have an answer for her... because
I don't know what's wrong. Truth is, I never gave
it much thought. Maybe I should have talked it
over with my parents. Maybe they would have
had an idea for me. But now it's too late..
At this very moment, my parents are hearing
the awful truth. No... wait... I think I hear them
opening the door. Yes! Uh-oh, I'll write more
Whew. Baruch Hoshem, it's all over. About
an hour ago, my parents knocked lightly on my
door. I opened it, scared and shaking. My father
looked at my face for a minute and then he said,
"You must be waiting for your treat. Here it is."
He put his hand into his pocket and took out a
chocolate bar. He handed it to me and then he
and my mother started to walk out!
I ran after them. "Wait, don't go. Talk to me;
don't just walk away."
"You got your treat," said my father. "What
else do you want?"
"The note pad," I said, even though I couldn't
look him in the eye because I was so ashamed.
"I want to know what the teachers told you."
"I'm sure you already know everything that's
written there," said my mother. But they both
came back into my room.
Very quietly, my father read me what he'd
been told. It was just as I expected.
When he finished, he flipped the note pad
shut and looked at me expectantly. They both
seemed mad... and sad.
My mother spoke first. "Judy," she said, "It's
not the low marks. Of course, we're not thrilled
about them, but we're not angry. What makes
us angry is the fact that we had to hear about
them from your teacher instead of from you,
and that it's been going on for quite a while!"
"I was afraid to tell you about it," I said.
"Afraid? What do you think we would have
done to you if you'd come to us and told us that
you were having trouble studying, or that you'd
started getting lower marks? Do you think we
would have yelled at you?" my father asked.
I didn't know, so I kept quiet.
"Don't you think we would have tried to help
you?" my mother added.
I still kept quiet. Of course they were right.
My mother came over to my bed and gave me
the tightest hug. Suddenly, I felt so warm and
good and loved. I felt as if she had just given me
the strength to turn around the whole train that
was taking me away from doing well in school. I
felt I could get back on track and start working
the way I used to.
Then my father told me about the time the
same thing had happened to him in school. He
told me that almost everyone goes through a
time like that, when he can't seem to do well
in school. He had some ideas on how I could
change certain things.
He and my mother kept reminding me that
doing poorly in school would never make them
mad. But the fact that I didn't talk to them
about it and ask for their help was another
story. Finally, my parents made a plan with
me for helping me study and do my homework.
Before they left the room, they each gave me a
My father was at the door when I suddenly
He turned around.
"W-w-why did you buy me chocolate?" I
My father laughed. "We bought you chocolate
because we love you/' he answered.
"But you heard such bad things about me,
and you were angry that I didn't tell you, so I
didn't really deserve it."
"Well," said my mother as she poked her head
back into my room, "the truth is we thought
about it, and chose something to let you know
our feelings. Take a closer look at the chocolate
They left and closed the door. I took the
chocolate out of its little paper bag, and then
I smiled. The chocolate was bittersweet.
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