The first time my nephew whistled

Every chance he’d get, my now-9-year-old nephew B would try to whistle. From the age of 5, on the way to school, lying in bed at night, wherever he was, whatever he was doing, was an opportunity to try to whistle.

Including, apparently, in the classroom. But one day, a few months ago, while sitting in class, an innocent activity – trying to whistle in class – suddenly became a disruptive one.

“A strange noise came out of my mouth and so my teacher kicked me out.”

“Wait, so the first time you finally whistled,” I asked him, sitting in my parents’ – his grandparents’ – living room on Yom Kippur, “was that day in class? And you got kicked out for it?”


“Well, I think you should have been invited to the front of the class and given a standing ovation for persevering to learn how to whistle for years and finally succeeding!”

And so he whistled a tune for us all.

B gave me permission to share this story.

Photo by Julia Freeman-Woolpert


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