| From A to Z |

From A to Z: Chapter 15

“Why,” I demand, “do I have to go to stupid graduation?”


The weeks now are a hazy fog of metallic sounds in my earphones, memorizing bits of unimportant information that I will forget the minute I am out of the small exam room, Miss Symons’s friendly help, and exhaustion.

So, so tired; I never thought I could be so tired and still function. My friends are having the time of their lives, sleeping over with other girls, pretending to read textbooks while consuming piles of nosh… Nechami just did her third “study night” this week. I know for a fact she hasn’t studied for even 60 seconds.

I cannot afford that. I am fighting for survival here. I can pass, but if I neglect to listen to every section of the study guide, I will fail. I can’t skim over the page the night before and then just turn up at the test and jot down whatever I remember from that read. I really have to work hard.

I feel like I’m in a whirlwind. But then, just as I forget what my name is, and why I am here, it’s over.

Just like that.


It’s 10 a.m., and my mother is in my bedroom trying to wake me up.


“Go away,” I mumble, without looking up to see who it is. “I don’t have to go to school!”

“It’s graduation day.” My mother doesn’t know what “give up” means. “You have to go!”


My fuzzy brain processes the information slowly. Graduation?

Oh. The ceremony where happy students wear caps and gowns and get their diplomas from smiling faculty members and, after the parents leave, they shriek and cry and take pictures until the janitor comes to kick them out and ends up locking the gates on a bunch of teary eyed friends… Oh.

Not my type, I decide, turn to the other side, and continue to sleep.

“Shulamis…” My mother is back.

“Let me sleep,” I try begging her, but the sleep is slipping off me like a blanket pulled off. Wait a minute — my blanket!

My mom is the culprit. I tug it back and yawn.

“Why,” I demand, “do I have to go to stupid graduation?”

“To get your diploma and finish high school.”

“I don’t need a diploma! No one cares anyway,” I say, tired again. “Let me just go back to bed.” At least I’ll get some hours under the blanket, if not sleep.

“I ordered a taxi for an hour from now. It’s taking you to school.” My mother sealed the argument when it was still premature.

She left, and I know I have no choice but to get up.

School, like I thought, is a mess. All my classmates are crying and laughing and taking pictures in their gowns and just acting silly.

I munch on an energy bar, and say hi to Nechami while she rushes past me to the bathroom to fix her hair; one curl is out of place. What a disaster!

Eventually, after a long day dotted by escapes to the pizza store around the corner and three boring choir practices, and endless speeches, the doors open and parents are starting to arrive.

From my spot in the corner, I see my mother coming in, dressed in a brand-new blazer. Next to her…

I take a step back, and bash into the wall. Mrs. Adler. What is she doing here? What is she doing here, chatting to my mother so animatedly? What is going on?


When Mrs. Weiner, Shulamis’s mother, called me up to offer me to come to the graduation, I immediately agreed. I had to know what became of Shulamis — I had heard so many wonderful things about her lately, I had to come see her in person.

And how gorgeous the child looked! She was so tall, and stood confident, with none of the despaired dejection I remember her having. She looked like she had made some friends…

This was like a cure for me, to see her graduate. “See, Pessy?” I told myself, “Not every child like Yonah has to end up like he did.”

There is hope for every girl and boy with a reading disability, and they can all be successful! If I would invest less emotional energy and stay focused, perhaps I would be able to help more children… like my neighbor’s nephew, a sweet young boy who just can’t master the alef-beis… I think I need to call her up.

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 884)

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