he tears are streaming down my face, and I can’t see anything. “Sari,” I choke out. “If you don’t stop cutting onions near me, I’m going to accidentally chop my fingers off and then you will have peppers and thumbs in your taco.”

Simchi had been watching my mouth carefully, bewildered by my tears, and he breaks out in hysterical laughter at my line.

Peppers and thumbs! He signs and runs off to share the joke with Chunah.

“Ahh, to be six,” I say to Sari, scraping the contents of my cutting board into the frying pan.

She pops a cucumber into her mouth. “Almost seven,” she muses.

That’s right, Simchi’s birthday is coming up. “Hmmm, do we need to make him a party?” I wonder aloud, starting to dice the pickles.

Sari groans. “I hope not, I’m feeling pretty partied out and it’s still two months to the wedding.”

I nod tiredly. “Tell me about it.”

Mommy pokes her head in to check on us, a dab of neon pink paint decorating her forehead.

“Let me guess,” I say, pointing a spoon in her direction. “A doll carriage!”

Sari shakes her head vehemently. “No, no. Hmmm, a knapsack.”

Mommy looks at us like we’re crazy. “Your forehead has paint on it,” I say, dimpling.

Mommy cracks up. “You guys. It’s actually a saddle for my horse. Uch, I was getting bored of it. How’s it going in here?”

“Good, good, all under control. Ten-minute warning, I guess.”

Mommy nods, Tzippy comes in to set the table.

I take a deep breath. “We’re playing ‘Guess what Mommy was painting,’ ” I say brightly.

She just nods, pressing her lips together the way she does when she’s pressured.

I roll my eyes. I am so done with her. She thinks she’s mature enough to get married and yet she can’t get over a silly little fight.

We settle around the table, passing and pouring and creating our tacos to perfection. There’s an awkward moment when Tzippy and I both grab the hot sauce at the same time. I don’t let go and neither does she.

Everyone grows quiet.

Abba breaks the tension. “Pass the peas, please,” he says in a squeaky voice.

Sari laughs. “There are no peas, although I’m sure Simchi is dying to tell you a joke about peppers and thumbs.”

I grin and relinquish the hot sauce.

But inside, I’m rolling my eyes again.


I’m deep in conversation with Mommy over the color of napkins for the wedding when my phone beeps.

Guy picking you up in ten. Be ready.

I am so tempted to ignore Tamara, especially after that radiator incident, but my sense of self-preservation is too strong.


(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 754)