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Jr. Tales: The Sweeter Side of Zero

Rivkah Small

Breindy was definitely dragging her feet now at the thought of having to study sloooowly with Tirtza instead of breezing through it on her own

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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T irtza wasn’t good at math. In fact, she was somewhere between not great and average in most subjects. She also wasn’t like those kids in the books who aren’t good at school but have an amazing hidden art talent or who save the game by being able to hit a homerun none of the studious students can. No, she wasn’t great at anything. Which didn’t really bother Tirtza. At least most of the time it didn’t bother her. There was so much more to life, right?

While her classmates seemed lucky to be able to understand the teacher right away, it also seemed to Tirtza to be a bit of a drag: the girls who were good at Chumash were so upset when they got a 90 on a test. She was thrilled when she got a 90. She almost felt bad for them as they frowned down at their good grades.

Look at poor Breindy right now, Tirtza mused, as they walked home from the school bus. Breindy was saddled with her, Tirtza, as a study partner for the math test tomorrow because Mrs. Mandelowitz had suggested that helping a weaker student might be a nice thing for Breindy to do. Breindy took it like a trooper: she didn’t act annoyed, and she didn’t make Tirtza feel like a nebach case. Maybe that was because they were sort of friends — or friendly non-friends or very friendly acquaintances — but Breindy was definitely dragging her feet now at the thought of having to study sloooowly with Tirtza instead of breezing through it on her own.

 

Tirtza felt she should say something encouraging. “Cheer up, Breindy. You don’t have to teach it to me too well. Mrs. Mandelowitz is used to my doing badly on tests. You just have to teach it to me so I do a little better than I would on my own.”

Breindy brightened at that thought, but her forehead crinkled in puzzlement, “Okay, fine about Mrs. Mandelowitz, but won’t your parents be proud if you bring home a good grade?”

Tirtza considered. “Shocked, more like. And they might want me to do just as well next time, which would be a pressure I don’t need. As things are now, they just tell me to try, that that’s all they ask, and that I not actually fail.”

The girls walked down Breindy’s block, past stores and a barber shop and a gate outside one house that had a sign advising passersby to beware of the dog.

That’s was where Breindy urged, “Let’s walk faster, I hate that dog.”

That’s where I excel, Tirtza suddenly thought. I am very unafraid of animals. I feel about barking dogs the way Breindy feels about a big math test: no big deal. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 656)

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