| Teen Serial |

Upper Class: Chapter 21

I’m 16, not six. I can control myself, right? Pretend to be a nice person even if inside I know I’m a snob.


The amazing thing about having your mother as your 11th-grade teacher plus mechaneches is that after braving it for the first day, you then have the privilege of doing it again, over and over and over.

I don’t think Debbi understands this. She keeps yapping on and on about how “the hard part is over” and how I “made it.”

I don’t want to be a downer, but if she doesn’t stop talking, I’m going to abandon her on the street corner.

“Oh, this is me,” I say, as if it’s the first time she’s ever seen my house.

She stops talking and looks at me like I’m insane.

“Okay, so byeeee,” I trill and I march into my house, very aware that I’m acting like a nuthead.

I don’t look back to see if Debbi’s watching.

Pushing the door open, I’m met by blessed cool and quiet. For like half a second.

“Tanta Naoooooooooooooooooooooooooomi!!!”

I’m almost bowled over by a tiny, gorgeous missile in fireman pajamas. I blink in shock.


My nephew is jumping up and down, shrieking. “We came over! We came over! Mommy said we couldn’t for soooo long, and now we couuuuld!”

He wraps his little arms around my leg; I step-drag him into the kitchen where Yocheved is sitting at the table, drinking an iced tea and grinning at me sheepishly.

“How was the big first day?” she says.

I do not need this right now. I need quiet and calm and chocolate.

I rub a hand across my forehead and open my mouth to give Yocheved a piece of my mind.

Then I snap it shut. I’m 16, not six. I can control myself, right? Pretend to be a nice person even if inside I know I’m a snob.

I paste a smile on my face and plop into a seat across from her, hoisting Levi onto my lap.

“Hey, Chevs. Baruch Hashem, day one was fine. Just doodled mostly, and ignored the whole thing. How are you?”

I’m still smiling and my face is really hurting.

Yocheved blinks at me in surprise; I hide my face in Levi’s damp, Johnson Shampoo-smelling hair.

“I’m, uh, good. Baruch Hashem. Well, okay, I guess. Long day with Levi. His morah asked me to come get him, because he was b-i-t-i-n-g.” She spells it out.

I open my eyes wide. “Omigosh, so what’d you do?”

She smiles. “I took him to a park and we had a loong conversation, right, Levs? Mommy explained that when we’re upset, we need to use our words.”

Levi turns around and looks at me solemnly. “Tanta Naomi, when you’re sad or something, don’t bite people, okay? Just say, ‘I’m sad.’”

I roll my eyes. “Thanks, Levs, and here I was just randomly biting people in Chumash class today.”

Yocheved snorts. Levi looks horrified.

I paste the smile back onto my face. “I’m kidding. You’re a cutie, did you know that? ’Kay, Tanta Naomi needs to take a looong nap before she jumps into the world of homework. See you guys later.”

I give Yocheved a little one-armed hug and practically run out of there before she can ask me to babysit. Not today.

Kicking off my shoes, I pull out my scrunchie so my hair falls forward, free. My bed is soft, and the ceiling fan is moving hypnotically, and my whole day was just so draining… my last thought before I drift off is that a long conversation with my three-year-old nephew is going to get Yocheved exactly nowhere.


I wake up to the smell of hot stew wafting up the stairs. Yum. I’m actually starving. But first, coffee.

Stretching, I feel around for my Uggs, untuck my uniform shirt, and head downstairs for some cold brew.

Thankfully the kitchen is empty; must be Ma’s turn to nap. I wash my hands, then fill my favorite blue sparkly cup with ice, pour the cold brew on top, a splash of milk, a squirt of whipped cream, and voilà: pure heavenliness.

I practically run back upstairs before anyone walks into the kitchen and engages me in (gasp) conversation. Passing the family phone, I think of taking it upstairs and texting Debbi’s family phone, but I’m not sure Debbi is the right address right now. Shan? Zeesy? Nah. I’ve had enough of 11th graders for today.

I settle into the giant chair in the corner of my room, the one that looks like a giant cream doughnut, and sip my coffee. I actually have very little homework. Easing us in slowly, I guess. I swing my legs, humming to myself. My mind is moving in slow motion; I feel foggy and drowsy, and I don’t hate it. It’s kind of exhausting keeping up with my normal stream of obnoxious thought processes.

My eyes travel slowly around the room. Should I read? Sketch? Organize my summer clothes?

I sip lazily.

None of the above, thank you.

I could just sit here, until my life slides back into focus and I need to concentrate on all the craziness.

My gaze lands on a brown leather book lying carelessly on my desk.

What is that?

Oh! Mommy’s notebook.

Well, then. Placing my iced coffee carefully on the windowsill, I hop up to retrieve the notebook and pen.

Write down my feelings, Ma? Don’t mind if I do.

And all haziness burns away as my thoughts of the day come sliding back into razor-sharp focus.

Gripping the pen, a feeling of power floods through me.

And I write.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 968)

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