| Jolly Solly |

All Kinds of Ball Games

"That does sound like a problem. But you know, dear, there are very few problems that can’t be solved"

Moishy Morris came home from school and flung his backpack onto the floor.

“Dat’s not what you do wiv your bag,” pointed out his little sister Miriam.

“I don’t care!” snapped Moishy, walking off.

Miriam stared after him in surprise. This was not the kind, helpful brother she knew. What was going on?

That night, Mommy also noticed Moishy was extremely grouchy.

“Sounds like you’ve had a rough day,” she said.

Moishy stamped his foot.

“I don’t like school! I wish I didn’t have to go.”

Mommy decided not to say anything just yet. She could see there was more coming.

“It’s because of recess,” continued Moishy. “All the boys want to do is play stupid football. I hate football. I have nothing to do, and nobody to play with.”

“I see,” said Mommy. “That does sound like a problem. But you know, dear, there are very few problems that can’t be solved. Come have supper. Then we can think about what to do next.”

But after supper Bubby called. Then Miriam had to be put to bed with her raggedy rabbit and her five favorite dollies. By the time Mommy was done, Moishy was half asleep himself.

“Let’s talk tomorrow instead,” suggested Mommy.

The next day, Moishy walked home from school feeling grumpy again. It had been just the same. His class was busy with football, while he stood there feeling dumb. He was unlatching the front gate when he heard, “Yoo-hoo, Moishy!”

Moishy turned and saw Jolly Solly.

“I say! You look like a hen left out in the rain!” The clown wiggled his eyebrows up and down, so that Moishy couldn’t help giggling.

“That’s better.” Jolly Solly smiled. “Now what’s going on? Spill the beans, young man. There are very few problems that can’t be solved, you know.”

“My mother said the same thing,” said Moishy. Then his face fell. “But this is a really big problem, and I don’t think there’s any solution.”

The clown listened intently to Moishy’s description of how bored and lonely he felt in the playground.

“Is there anything you’d like to do instead of playing football?” he asked.

“I don’t really know.”

“Hmm. Are there other boys that don’t like football? Maybe you can keep each other company.”

“Dunno. There are a few, I guess. But they also just stand around doing nothing, like me.”

“What if you brought something from home to do?”

“I can’t think of anything to bring.”

“Well, what do you like doing in your spare time?”

Moishy thought for a moment.

“I like reading. But I don’t want to read in the school playground. It’s too noisy. And I like riding my bike, but we’re not allowed bikes in the playground. I wish I could do tricks like you, Jolly Solly. Then I wouldn’t be bored!”

A gleam came into Jolly Solly’s eyes, which meant he had an idea.

From the next day onward, Miriam noticed that Moishy started to be very busy after school. He would grab something to eat, and then go out again. His big sister Chavi would watch him walk up the road.

“Where you goin”?” Miriam asked curiously.

“Gotta practice, and practice some more,” Moishy muttered, before disappearing.

A few weeks later, Moishy was ready.

The bell rang for recess. The boys rushed downstairs, busy talking about passes and touchdowns. Moishy found a relatively quiet corner. Then he took something out from behind his back.

A set of super-charged juggling balls! Up into the air he sent them, one after the other. The balls had colored lights inside that flashed and winked. One ball made the sound of a tinkling bell as it flew through the air; another chimed like a clock.

Moishy was too busy keeping his eye on the balls to look around, but he sensed a boy coming to watch, and then another.

“Wow! How do you do that?” the first boy said admiringly. “Can I try?”

Moishy neatly caught the balls, one after the other.

“Sure! Start with just two at first, until you get the hang of it.”

The football game was in full swing, but Moishy and his companions didn’t care. They were having too much fun.

That afternoon, Moishy walked cheerfully up the front path after school.

Mommy and Miriam watched him from the window.

Mommy smiled. “I do believe Jolly Solly has done the trick once again. I think I’ll bake him a cake. He’s always on the ball!”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 890)

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