To give a little background to "Penina Writes a Petek": I didn't realize when I walked into ulpan this September that my same teacher from last semester was now teaching dalet, a higher level course (which isn't even usually offered in our city); I had planned to take gimel one more time. The course is almost over and they haven't sent me back to gimel yet, but I work really (REALLY) hard to even remotely keep up with the class.
So here is what a typical evening looks like in our home: between dropping off/picking up the girls at various extracurricular activities, I do my ulpan homework. And pretty much every night we go through the same routine:
Me: "after I bring you home from dance, I need to focus on my homework"
Beloved Daughter: "You work too hard on that. You don't need to do it even! Just skip it."
Me: "I can't skip it. I need to do it so that I can understand better what on earth we're doing in class"
Beloved Daughter: "She gives you WAY too much homework! It's not like there's even a test. Just skip it!"
Me: "The test is every time I open my mouth to say anything. Now shush. I'm trying to do my homework. By the way, do you know what this word means?"
The other night I was *really* struggling with workbook page after workbook page (to the point that Shalom Shachne kindly took a long dinner break to be my personal tutor, after I almost threw in the towel and called a paid tutor to come help me). When I finally finished over two hours later, Penina decided she'd had enough: "THAT'S IT! I'm writing a petek to your teacher. This is a ridiculous amount of work she expects you to do each night". And she took a paper and wrote:
"To Morah (Teacher) Irit:
I would like to request that you not give so much homework to my mother. It takes her too much time--hours sometimes. It also makes her cranky when there is a lot of homework.
--Penina (age 15)
daughter of Ellen
p.s. this is also permission for her not to do all her homework"
Well, Irit had a good laugh over it . And then (as perhaps could have been foreseen) corrected it. Penina got a ✔➕, with some suggestions for grammatical upgrades. Irit kept the note to share with the head of the ulpan.
And on class break (or "recess", as Ilana calls it), Irit wrote back to Penina:
"Dear Penina--Hello to you,
Your letter was very nice and caused me to smile a lot.
Homework is not against your mother! I want everyone to make progress and your mother is a serious student.
How fun for your mother that she has a daughter like you!
Who gives a lot of homework"
At the end of class, Irit announced, "With apologies to Ellen's daughter, here is your homework for tonight" and gave us several workbook pages and the challenge of translating a page of text into our native language and then coming prepared to re-translate live in class and read it out loud in Hebrew.
Gotta go do my homework....