“What are you eating?” I asked my sister.
Shani was sitting on the tall stool at the kitchen counter munching on something pink and yummy
looking. “It’s a cupcake,” she said with her mouth full. She swallowed. “Baila started selling them and I got free samples. Want one?”
She pushed a small plate towards me. Three small cupcakes, piled high with perfectly swirled tie-dye
frosting and topped with glittery sprinkles, looked up at me invitingly.
I pulled up another stool and picked up a blue confection. “What are your plans tonight? Besides eating,
I mean. Want to go to Target?”
“I can’t,” Shani said. “I have two more bracelets to finish that need to be picked up tomorrow.”
Of course she did. Shani was all about beading these days. I was surprised a few weeks ago when she
actually got orders, and even more surprised when they started coming in fast.
“Need help?” I asked.
“Nah,” she answered, reaching for another cupcake. “You know me. I’m a perfectionist.”
I ignored the implied barb – that my work would never enough for her – and beat her to the last
cupcake as I got up to leave the room.
As I turned, I nearly crashed into my little brother Moshe, who was staggering under the weight of a few
“Did someone say something about help?” he huffed. “Because that would be very nice.”
He dropped the boxes on the floor with a crash– wrong side up apparently – and red cans scattered all
over the floor.
“Are you selling sodas again?” I asked as I bent down to retrieve them.
“You bet,” he said. “Look at this.” He pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket. “This is from yesterday! And
I used some of the money to buy all this!”
“Wow,” I said.
I sighed. It seemed everyone around me was creative and enterprising, while I…I was just a good consumer, buying their stuff and offering my help. What was I missing?
That night I decided to brainstorm. There must be something I’m good at that I can offer, I thought as I
stared into space.
Cookies? Nah. I make excellent chocolate chip cookies, but they aren’t special enough to sell. And I don’t
love the kitchen enough to spend that much time cooking.
Photo books? I’m good at doing those, but they do take me hours and hours to create. Forget it.
Hair? I know how to use a hair iron and curler, but that’s about it. No marketable skills there.
Rachel painted, Ariella gave a dance class, and Batya tutored. Everyone, it seemed, had found a way to
I thought and thought but could not come up with a single thing I could offer.
It was not a very good feeling.
The next day I shared my concerns with my best friend Adina.
“What’s the big deal?” she said. “So you won’t start a business. I don’t have a business.”
“Yes, you do,” I pointed out. “You put on those fluffy tutus and help your sister with parties.”
“That’s not a business,” she scoffed. “She roped me into that. And I hardly get paid. I just fill in whenever
her assistant is not available.”
“But it keeps you busy,” I insisted. “It gives you something to do, something you love, outside of school.”
“Oh, please,” Adina said. “I so do not love it. It’s fun sometimes, but trust me, you are better off at home
relaxing than running around like that.”
But I was on a mission. I had to find something that would help prove my worth that would showcase
my hidden talents and allow me to make some money.
It didn’t help when I overheard my mother on the phone. “…So yeah, it’s amazing to see how these kids
just find something they’re good at and run with it. It really builds their self-confidence. Even Moshe,
he’s such a little businessman…”
I left the room so I wouldn’t have to hear any more.
On Sunday, Adina had a party, Shani was busy with her jewelry, and Moshe sat at the table discussing his soda enterprise with my father.
I sat and read a book. I was really absorbed in it when Shani came stomping in.
“That’s it!” she cried. “I’m done.”
“Huh,” I said in response, turning the page.
She pulled my book away. “Seriously! I’m done! I just snapped a bracelet and the clasp went flying – a
clasp that cost me five dollars – and there are beads all over my room, and you – you get to just sit here
“I get to just sit here?” I echoed. “I’m sitting here because I have nothing else to do. I can help you if you
“Fine,” Shani grumbled. “Sorry, I’m just really frustrated. All I do is look at beads.” She handed back my
book. “Thank you. If you want to help, that would be great.”
I followed her happily. Maybe I’d be good at this. Maybe I’d be so good that I could work with her. We
could have a real business!
But an hour later, I wasn’t so sure.
My fingers were hurting from threading, and the work needed so much concentration that I had a
“Are we almost done?” I asked.
“You wish,” said Shani. “But I really am good on my own now if you have other stuff to do. Thanks again
for helping me clean up and finish that bracelet.”
“Ok, yeah, I do have other stuff to do,” I replied. I got up and stretched my stiff legs, headed back to the
comfortable armchair and picked up my book.
Maybe one day I’d discover some sort of hidden talent I could develop or start a business on my own.
For now, I just want to be a teenager.