“Chana Adina Goldman, come down already!”

That was my mother calling me, for the second time actually. She sounded a bit exasperated.  I slowly closed my eyes but opened them a second later. Better go see what she wants.  With a wistful look at my fat book and iced coffee, I slowly pulled myself out of bed with a groan and lumbered down the stairs.  When I reached the bottom, I felt like running back up again.

Shifi was pulling apple after apple from the fridge and letting them roll in all directions. Eliyahu was sitting in his high chair rubbing mashed banana into his hair with a big smile on his face.  And worst of all, the four-year-old twins – Sari and Yehoshua, who should have known better – were coloring on non other than… the wall.

Mommy was standing in the middle of it all, and she couldn’t do anything about it because her hands were full of sticky challah dough. She didn’t look amused.  “There you are!” Mommy said, sounding relived.  “Can you please run over to the Rosens’ to borrow some yeast? I’m in the middle of making challah, and I just realized that I’m all out.”

“Sure,” I said, eager to escape the bedlam. It’s not like I don’t like my siblings or anything like that, but they can get a bit too exuberant at times. I wish I wasn’t the oldest. Sometimes I feel like a second mother – I constantly have to help around with the kids. I’m a teenager! I need some time to myself sometimes!  I arrived at the Rosens’, and Mrs. Rosen opened the door.

“Chana! How nice to see you! Oh, I was just wondering, would you mind babysitting tonight at 7:00?  I’m sorry that I didn’t give you any earlier notice, but, you know how it is…”

“Well, ok, I guess,” I told Mrs. Rosen. At least I was getting paid…

Our family isn’t so well off, so babysitting jobs usually allow me to go out with a few of my friends for pizza or something. It’s annoying, because usually I can’t come along with them, and when I can it’s like a special treat. (Shh, don’t tell that to my friends though, it’s not meant to be a special treat…)

I thanked Mrs. Rosen for the yeast and took the elevator down one floor to our apartment.  I opened the front door, expecting to see the same scene as before, and was quite relived to see that things had calmed down somewhat.  “Hi, Ma! Here’s the yeast, oh, and I’m babysitting tonight, that’s ok, right?”

“Chana, couldn’t you have told me that a little earlier? I was hoping you could babysit over here

Boy, I was popular.

“But Ma, I just found out about it right now! Mrs. Rosen asked me to come,” I said, hoping that my mother would make other plans.

“You know what? Maybe I’ll visit her tomorrow evening instead.”

“Visit who?” I asked curiously.

“Mrs. Greenberg. You know, every couple of weeks I go visit her,” my mother said.

“Oh, right,” I nodded. My mother does so much chessed, even while juggling my four younger siblings. I feel guilty sometimes thinking what she does in comparison to me.  Then I registered what my mother had said.  “Oh, thanks Ma!” I said, trying not to sound too eager. She might have gotten hurt that I had chosen Mrs. Rosen’s kids over ours.  7:00 arrived and I hopped up the one floor to the Rosen’s.

The babysitting job went as babysitting jobs usually go, with a few fights and tears, but all in all it didn’t go so badly. Two-and-a-half hours later, I fell onto their couch, breathless. Mrs. Rosen was supposed to come back any minute, so I packed up my few things.

Knock, knock. Yes, just as I thought. Mrs. Rosen came in looking harried.  “Thanks dear, I’m expecting an important phone call any minute now. Now, how much do I owe you? 17 dollars? Let’s round that up to 20 for your being such a good babysitter.”  Mrs. Rosen rummaged around her purse.

Suddenly I remembered, I have a quiz tomorrow! It was nearly 10:00 pm, and I had to start studying!  Just at that moment, the phone rang. Mrs. Rosen thrust the money into my hands and dove for the phone with an absentminded wave in my direction. I put the money into my pocket without even looking at it and ran up the stairs two at a time.

Like I thought, I didn’t do so well on the quiz today. As it was, I only studied for less than an hour. I knew I was bound to fail.  It was raining hard when the last bell rang so I put on my coat and opened my umbrella. My BFF, Malki, came up to me.  “Chan, I know you usually can’t come to these sorts of things, but we’re going out for pizza now, me and the club, and we really want you to come! C’mon, please! You’re the one that makes the whole

The club is a group of six girls in my class, including Malki and me. We formed the club in 5th grade, and we are still at it 3 years later. Our club is pretty popular, I guess, and it feels good to be one of a crowd. (I wasn’t always one of a crowd – but that’s a story for a different time…)

“Malki, I told you already one hundred times that – oh! I just remembered!” a slow smile spread across my face.

“What?” asked Malki curiously.

“I can come with you! I was just babysitting last night and I got some money!” I told her, trying to tone down my excitement.

“Oooh, amazing, This is going to be great! Wait a sec, I’m going to tell everyone.” Malki ran off.

I don’t usually come with the club after school- you already know why, so when I can come – I grab the chance.  Before we set out, I called my mother who gave me permission to go. I promised myself to help with
the kids when I would get back.  A blast of warm air greeted us as we arrived at the pizza store, along with the delicious aroma of cheesy pizza.

We stepped inside and ordered. I ordered mushrooms and double cheese. I knew I had the money on me because I had left it in my coat pocket. I reached my hand in my pocket and pulled out the money. Then I gasped.

“Chana, what happened?” asked Bracha who was standing closest to me. “What? OMG, why did you bring
so much money?” she asked me, her eyes open wide.

The bill I was holding was not a 20 like I thought, It was none other than a 100 dollar bill!  I have never even seen that much money in our household before, and suddenly I was holding it in my own two hands! By now all of my friends were crowded around me. Malki, who knew my money status, was shocked and puzzled.

“I, um… well…” I didn’t have anything to say to my friends who were gawking around me. The shopkeeper looked impatient. All of my friends had already ordered and paid.

Mrs. Rosen must have given me $100 by mistake! I remembered how hurried she was as I left.  Of course, I had to return it. That was the halacha! But suddenly I started to think about what I could do with that money. I could get new shoes. New linen – mine was like 1000 years old. I could get new Shabbos clothes or the sweater that everyone was wearing now. The sky was the limit!

By now everyone was eating and I was still standing. I slowly ordered and got my change (with a frown from the shopkeeper that turned into a weird look, as he wondered why I was giving him so much money).

On the way back home I thought about to do. The money was burning a hole in my pocket, but I wanted it so much! No, I needed it.

I finally reached our building.

And rode up one extra floor on the elevator.