| Jolly Solly |

A Sneeze-Filled Lesson

“Mr. Potts warned me I gotta do better or I’m in big trouble, but this is impossible!”

Life seemed dull and unexciting, and Fishel Friedman had had enough. All he would do was go to school, do homework, and go to bed, and the next day, it was school-homework-bed all over again. And the things they taught you in school! Times tables and grammar and spelling — all totally unnecessary in Fishel’s view. Who needed to know all that stuff? Fishel felt that how he spelled words — according to how they sounded — was way better than how the dictionary spelled them.

Fishel daydreamed for a while about what school would be like if he were in charge. Well, the rebbi was alright, he thought. Fishel would leave the mornings mostly unchanged, although he’d redo the playground to make recess more exciting. He’d put in a roller coaster and a merry-go-round. He’d bring in animals for rides: ponies, camels, and an elephant.

The afternoon would be spent mostly out on the playground, of course….

Suddenly, Fishel’s fabulous fantasy was interrupted.

“Fishel! Where are you? Have you done your homework yet?”

Uh oh. It was Mr. Friedman.

“Coming!” Fishel called.

Faivish was already sitting, hunched and miserable, over a particularly complicated math problem.

“Mr. Potts warned me I gotta do better or I’m in big trouble, but this is impossible!”

“My homework’s even more impossible,” argued Fishel.

“Oh yeah? It can’t be impossibler than mine. That’s simply impossible.”

Fishel, whose head was starting to spin, changed the subject.

“Look, we’ve gotta do something to make life more interesting.”

Faivish looked up curiously.

“Like what?”

“Bubby sent us that Science Kit for Kids a while ago. Maybe we can do some experiments. Maybe we can invent something that makes math teachers forget if they’ve given homework.”

“Good idea!” Faivish agreed with his brother for a change.

The troublesome two hurriedly finished their homework, paying little attention to getting the right answers. It was done, and that was the main thing.

Fishel brought down the Science Kit. There were all sorts of interesting powders and stuff inside, with an instruction booklet. Fishel glanced quickly at the instructions. There was a warning that one of the powders could make you sneeze.

Fishel looked thoughtful as ideas slowly formed in his mind. He decided not to share them with Faivish yet, until he saw whether one could work. After all, a powder that made people sneeze had so many possibilities. For example, he could take some to school and slip it into the math book of Gershon Genius, the class math whiz.

“Why can’t you all be like Gershon?” Mr. Potts would say over and over again. Or, “Gershon’s finished that whole page — surely all of you should be past the first section by now.”

Well, if Gershon was busy sneezing, maybe Mr. Potts would go easy on the rest of them. Besides, Fishel told his conscience — which was trying to discourage him — sneezing was simply another type of exercise for the face, and surely it would be good for Gershon Genius to get more exercise.

Fishel carefully placed a bag of the powder between the pages of his math book, ready for the next day.

The next morning went quickly. Recess, despite the absence of ponies and camels, was fun. Fishel completely forgot about his trick. Mr. Potts told everyone to take out their math books. Fishel dug his out and opened it. What was that bag of powder doing in there? He opened and smelled it, before he remembered what it was.

Three sneezes, one after the other, followed. “A-tish-oo! A-tish-oo! A-tish-oo!” went Fishel.

Fishel tried to stop himself, but another one came, louder. “A-tish-oo!”

Mr. Potts glared at him, sure that this was another one of the boy’s silly tricks.

“What’s going on with you, Friedman?” he demanded. “Are—”

“A-TISH-OOOO!” sneezed poor Fishel.

Mr. Potts pointed to the door.

“Out!” he snapped.

“B— b— but I— A-TISH-OOOO!”

Fishel found himself outside the classroom, hoping the principal was somewhere far away.

He heard the rest of the class continue with the lesson, and then there was a loud cheer. Fishel wondered what was going on. He put his ear to the door.

“Yippee!” “Extra recess!” “It was worth doing all those hard problems.”

The door opened, and Mr. Potts appeared, ready to lead the class to the playground for their extra recess.

Fishel put on his most sorrowful expression. He simply couldn’t miss extra recess! He opened his mouth to plead with Mr. Potts.

All that came out was a small, weak, “A-tish-oo.”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 960)

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