She could handle fudge sundaes, but having a conversation here would be super-awkward. What if one of her friends turned up? What if Etty came in?
he ice cream store had to be the worst possible place for an intense conversation.
Rachelli fidgeted. Daddy and Mommy wanted to talk about the high school situation, and apparently it warranted a private outing, just the three of them.
Okay, she could handle fudge sundaes, but having a conversation here would be super-awkward. What if one of her friends turned up? What if Etty came in?
“The Friedmans all go to Toras Banos,” Rachelli said. Caramel sauce dripped from her sundae, pooling on the scratched wooden table. “How come it’s good enough for them? Etty’s father is a mashgiach in the yeshivah.”
Mommy looked over at Daddy. “Let’s not start by comparing ourselves to other people,” she said.
Rachelli’s father nodded. “That’s right. We’re going to make our own decision, based on what we think is the right thing, not because of what so-and-so is doing. You know that, Rachelli.”
She pouted. “But why? Why isn’t it the right thing? So many other people are okay with it — I mean, it’s a good, frum school! Why do I have to be different?”
Mommy leaned forward now, something persuasive in her voice. “Look, Rachelli, you’re right that in this community, this is the school we have, and most people are absolutely fine with that. But how about thinking of it differently — going away to Bais Rivka Leah is a chance to have something that’s better than just ‘fine.’ Imagine someone’s offered a spot in Harvard University and he turns it down to go to his local community college…. That’s how we look at it, sweetie.”
Rachelli’s eyes stung. She wasn’t sure why.
Daddy spoke again. “We did a lot of research on Shani’s school, and it paid off, look how happy she is. It’s a large school, they have so many extracurricular clubs and events. Maybe you’ll want to join one of them, like, you know, singing or something….”
“Or art,” Mommy supplied, encouragingly. “They have an art club, and there’s the option of private art classes too. The school does a huge production every year, remember Shani’s dance last year? Wouldn’t you enjoy getting involved in that? The community there is larger, they have much more going on.”
Rachelli stirred the whipped cream with her spoon. Crested waves disappeared into an angry froth. “I don’t want to go with Shani,” she mumbled.
Daddy’s eyebrows flew up. “Really, Rachelli, what does that mean?”
There was something heavy and prickly in her chest. But how could she explain the feeling to her parents? That being the little sister, stalked by Shani’s perfect example, would choke her? That she wanted to make her own choices, even though Tehillah messed up her own? If she started arguing, she’d sound like Tehillah already.
(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 769)
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