| Madame Chamberlaine |

Madame Chamberlaine: Playing Hooky

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hprintzy, wake up!”

I turned to face the wall. “Go away.”

Shuly pulled my blanket. “The bus is almost here. Why aren’t you up yet?”

“Shuly, I’m not going to school today or ever again.”

Shuly’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh? Does Mommy know about this?”

I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep.

I heard my mother’s footsteps.

“What’s this, Shprintzy? Why are you still in bed?”

“Ma, I’m not going back to school.”

“Young lady,” my mother said, putting her hands on her hips. “You were home for over two weeks as it was Yom Tov. The party is over. It’s back to school now.”

“Uh, my stomach hurts. And my little toe might have a bruise.”

“And my bubbie’s cat had a baby,” my mother laughed.

“Ma, this is real. I just want to stay home. I don’t want to wear a uniform, I don’t want to sit at my desk all day. And I hate most the homework and tests. Whoever invented that was never a kid!”

“Sorry, but the law is that every child must attend school.”

I started to cry. “I just want to stay home.”

My mother left the room. She must have gone to her office (which is in our basement) because I didn’t hear her anymore.

I lay in my bed, my hands behind my head, and thought.

Why did we need to go to school? I already knew how to read and write. I knew how to daven. I knew how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Anything else I needed to know I could figure out as I went along. Whenever I asked my mother a question she didn’t know, she answers: “Oy, I was in school a million years ago! I don’t remember.”

I would just say the same to my children!

I davened and sat around all day. I must admit I was a bit bored, but then remembered that all my classmates were probably elbow deep in math questions while I had a cold glass of lemonade in front of me and a good book open on my lap. Ahhhh, nothing like playing hooky!

In the early afternoon, the door suddenly opened.

I jumped up from the couch. No one was supposed to be coming home yet! I hid behind a door and held my breath.

I heard heels clacking and someone humming. I jumped out from behind the door.

“Madame Chamberlaine!”

Madame was so shocked that she flew into the air, somersaulted twice, and landed back on her heels.

Vraiment, Shprintzy! Don’t you know that you shouldn’t scare an old femme?”

“Sorry, Madame. But you scared me! I thought you were a robber.”

Ma petite, your mother gave me the key in case I ever arrived during the day when no one is home. Why are you not in l’école?”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 729)


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