I sit by the kitchen table with you, my beautiful nine-year-
old son. Would other people call you beautiful, with your
unruly copper payos and scarred chin (from falling out
of a tree this past summer)? Well, a mother looks at her son
with eyes that see beauty, creativity, a heart of gold and
You've been expelled from cheder and you, your Tatty
and I are in pain. How will you increase your Torah learning?
How will you become a talmid chochom? Today the hours
drag along slowly, and finally you despondently creep off to
bed. I call my friend, Sora, and pour out my heart.
"The school kicked him out and any comparable cheder
that would take him in is an hour's bus ride each way. Nine
years old is too young to travel so long each day, and he
won't have any friends in our neighborhood."
"Was he chutzpadik to the Rebbe or is he just not keeping
"Neither. He started up with another boy outside of
cheder grounds. It really had nothing at all to do
with the school. What aggravates me the most is that the
other boy's parents went to the school. Why couldn't they
come directly to us?"
Sora gasps. "Oh, no! I would NEVER go to the parents."
I'm baffled. "Whyever not? You go to the parents and they
take care of it. There's no need to involve the school."
"Absolutely not! The reason I wouldn't go to the parents is
that parents never forget. Every time you'll see the mother,
you'll both remember what happened."
"Oh, come on. I'm grateful when someone comes to me to let me
know what's going on with my children. I can't be everywhere.
I appreciate that they're helping me raise my children
properly. I tell them, `Thank you so much for coming to me.
I'll look into it and I'll take care of it.'"
"Leah, you're exceptional."
"Not at all! Wouldn't you rather have a chance to talk the
matter over with your son and hear his side of the story, or
would you want him tossed out of school?"
"I see your point... But there are times when talking to
parents is an utter waste of time."
"If we're talking about parents who get all defensive and
say, `My tzaddik? My son would never do anything
wrong. It's all YOUR son's fault.' Or apathetic parents who
shrug, `Yeah, well, boys will be boys. What can y'do?' Then,
O.K., maybe it's time to go to the school. But it's like when
you have a problem in the classroom and you go straight to
the principal instead of first speaking with the teacher.
There are instances where there's no other choice, but
usually, the teacher would prefer that first you approach him
before going over his head and bringing in the big guns."
"Well, how do you know which kind of parents you're dealing
"Speak to them! Either you'll get a quick answer to which
kind of parents they are by how they respond, or you'll wait
and see if the situation improves. If not, then you can try
the school, or a rov, a social worker, the police, the
"Mmmm, when one of my Avi's classmates broke his glasses, I
called the school. They said to call his parents."
"Yeah, O.K. They agreed to pay for a new pair, but it wasn't
so pleasant. And now there's someone bothering Shmuel on the
school bus. I want to call the school about it because it's
the school that's responsible for what's happening on the
"But why not first give the parents a chance to take care of
Sora gives a tired sigh. "Look, I think we're going around in
circles on this one. I'll pray for your son. Good luck."
I hang up the phone and reach for my Tehillim. Here we go, my
beautiful son, my precious pikodon.