My school, my teacher, my classmates, my homework, my hair, my shoes, and the color of my room.
Yeah, in that order.
What happened that suddenly made my life look like a can of black paint had spilled all over it? Honestly, I don’t know.
One day I was happy in school, liking my teacher, enjoying my classmates, tolerating my homework, flipping my hair, loving my shoes, and hardly noticing the color of my room. And then all of a sudden everything changed.
It was like a dreary cloud had settled over my eyes and things I had always liked started feeling like an impossible itch. The type of itch that hits between your shoulder blades — in that spot you can’t reach no matter how athletically you twist yourself around. Gah! It’s annoying.
“It’s normal,” my mother said when I finally finished telling her about all the (many) things that were getting on my nerves. “You’re just stuck in a rut.”
“A rut?” I asked. Her words made me think of our car that got stuck in a huge snowstorm last winter. My father had pressed the gas pedal to the floor but the tires just spun like wild wheels.
“You need to do something different,” my mother said.
“Different?” I asked.
I leaned back and glared at the ceiling. The same, old, tan speckled ceiling I’ve stared at hundreds of times before. Ugh.
“Something that will yank you out of your rut,” Mommy said. She leaned forward. “Maybe a new hobby?” she asked.
“You can try coloring,” my sister Racheli said as she sliced a green pepper at the kitchen counter.
My nose crinkled. “Coloring?” I said. “Uh, no thanks, I’m not five.”
Racheli popped her pepper slices into a ziplock bag. I shuddered as I watched her put the bag in the fridge right next to her tuna sandwich.
“How do you eat the same food every single day?” I asked.
Racheli glared at me.
“For your information, I like tuna and green peppers. Besides, I was talking about adult coloring books. Not that you’re an adult or anything,” she said as she flounced out of the room.
“Hey!” I called as I sat up straight.
Mommy patted my hand. “Coloring sounds like a nice idea,” she said.
I shrugged. “Maybe,” I said.
The next morning, Penina was the first person I saw when I walked into my classroom. “Nothing different about this,” I muttered as I slung my backpack behind my chair. I looked at my backpack hanging there and flicked it onto the floor.
“Hey,” Penina said. “Why’d you do that?”
She bent down to pick up my water bottle that was rolling down the aisle.
“And what happened to you this morning?” she asked. “I waited by the corner for five minutes, but you never showed up.”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 731)
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