Tag Archives: boys

Are little girls so obvious?

I took my sons for an interview at the local yeshiva. During the summertime it is being used for a girls’ day camp. While we were waiting out in the hallway, two little girls were dropped off by their parent. Their bunk happened to be in the foyer where we were waiting. One of those assembled piped up as she saw her friend exiting the car – “she wore that dress yesterday! And when her friend showed up she told her the same thing to her face.

The teenage counselor will make an excellent teacher or parent. Straight after the girl’s comment about her bunkmate she told her that the little girl obviously was very careful with her clothes and managed to keep them clean to wear them again the next day.

I know boys don’t notice that kind of thing. But these were little 8 year old girls. To be so obvious and make an announcement out loud like that – is that normal for a little girl? Are they obsessed with clothes? Is it wrong for a little kid to wear something for two days in a row?

(This said by a mom who sometimes has been heard to say “you have worn those pants / that shirt / those socks for three days straight. I am sure they could walk away by themselves by now. Put on something clean” – Oh the joys of raising boy children!!!!!!)

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Target Practice

One of my tweeps in Israel was complaining this morning about her little boys. She in fact was bemoaning the necessity of sharing a bathroom with them and craving a bathroom of her own. Some others chimed in. When I was looking for an apartment a few years back one of my main criteria was that there should be two separate bathrooms. One for me, and one for my boys. I am thrilled to have my own bathroom.

I don’t get it. How difficult is it to aim and shoot in the toilet bowl? Mothers of boys all over the world are nodding with me, understanding the issue. I used to think perhaps it was just my boys, but was relieved (scuse the pun) to learn that it is quite a universal thing. I make my boys clean their bathroom. I was hoping that once they had cleaned and mopped up their own spillage that it would teach them to be more target oriented. Sadly, that did not work.

I remember a few years back seeing a Lysol commercial where the boy was in the bathroom doing his business, and a sibling or parent called to him, he turned his head, which made the rest of his body turn, toward the voice, and realized he was watering the floor, and turned back to finish. I giggled because it just rang so true.

So, moms of boys – what are your tricks to get them to aim and fire accurately? Or should we just give up and hand them over the mop and disinfectant?

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Bracing for the Bris

I received an email from a reader asking me my advice. She is currently towards the end of her pregnancy with a baby boy, and is preparing herself for his bris (circumcision). Seeing as she knows I have been through a bris four times, she wanted to know my “tips” (I know, groan) to help her son heal from his welcome into the faith. Her whole family is populated with girls, so she welcomes any and all advice to help her chart this unfamiliar territory.

I emailed her back with my advice, which basically boils down to “Polysporin is your friend” and some of my experience. I wanted to open the subject to you my readers, so we can help her emotionally and physically on this important day.

We all know that our baby boys must be circumcised. It’s a rite of passage for every Jewish baby boy. But even though we know this has to happen it’s tough for the mommies who have just given birth. The baby will have to go through some pain, and as a mother that really hurts, it brings fear to our hearts. It does get easier with each subsequent boy, I will say that. With the first I was loathe to give him over to the men to carry into the shul. I wouldn’t let him go. I huddled with a girlfriend in the back of the library in the shul during the bris so that I wouldn’t have to hear anything. I think I cried the whole time. (Before I get bashed for not saying that it hurts the fathers too, I am not a man, cannot see the whole thing through a male perspective). By the time the fourth bris rolled around, I was as close as I could be to the action. I won’t say his cries didn’t bother me, but I knew he would be ok as his brothers had been. I dosed each one of my babies up with Tylenol beforehand, so that the pain would be minimized, and we chose experienced mohels who knew what they were doing.

It is indeed a very emotional moment. Welcoming your child into your religion, into your community, into your family. Seeing him become one of us in front of all the community. Having the members of the family and the rabbis bless him and heap good wishes onto him and all the family. For me, the most awesome moment, indeed very spiritual for me, was Kriat Shem, the calling of the name. When the actual bris itself is over one of the community/family members is given the honour of calling out the new baby’s name. There have been so many stories about a couple deciding on the boy’s name, and when it came for the father to whisper it to the honoree, something different came out. Not a name they had thought of, but one that fit perfectly. A name is a holy label. Much thought needs to go into it. Many have the tradition not to mention the name they have chosen for their son until he is circumcised. All of our sons were named after family members who had passed on. Both grandfathers’ names were given; one was name for my favourite man in the whole world – my Saba, my grandfather, the baby’s great-grandfather; and one was named for a great-grandfather and a dear friend.

The recovery time depends, in my experience, on whether or not a clamp was used during the procedure or not. I had 3 sons circumcised using a clamp, the last was not. Some rabbis permit it, some don’t. I really do not understand all the issues involved, but I know my own experience. The 3 boys who were circumcised using a clamp healed faster and bled less. The other one seemed to bleed a lot more, and take a lot longer to heal. I will say, however, that other than sleeping more than they had been used to, they didn’t seem to be too much in pain. I kept giving the Tylenol every 4 hours for the first 24 hours, but they didn’t seem to need it after that. They just needed warmth and snuggles and to be fed and changed regularly, like any newborn.

So, parents of boys, can you give my friend any suggestions how to handle the emotional and physical sides of the bris?

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Boys Boys Boys

Why do they not notice when they smell? Seriously! My boys all shower every morning. It wakes them up and they are fresh smelling and clean for school. One of the older ones came home from school yesterday, and it was extremely obvious that he had been running around all day long. He really needed to shower and deodorize. In his school they do not change their clothes for gym, and they certainly do not have any showers there, so they can’t exactly shower after gym. (A rant for a different day). They all have deodorant in their lockers, but that can only mask so much even when they remember to use it.

He came home, and we schmoozed about the day, and I asked him politely to go take a shower and get comfortable. He didn’t feel like it. Sweetie, I think it’s best that you take a shower now. Nah, Ima, I’m cool. I took one this morning. The soft approach was totally not working.  Eventually I looked him in the eye, and told him that he smelled very ripe and needed to take a shower NOW. He got all offended and stomped off, complaining how I am obsessed with cleanliness, how he showers in the morning, and he doesn’t smell, and life just isn’t fair. But he got in the shower, and I stole his dirty clothes out of his room so he wouldn’t put them back on. (Do your boys do that? I cannot figure that one out!!)

When he had come out, got himself dressed and was calm I asked him how I should go about asking him to shower next time, when he really needs it and doesn’t realize it,  without him getting all stroppy with me. Telling him that he stinks is rude and offensive – something one of his brothers would say, not me. So I expected him to come up with a code or a cool catchphrase. No. At sleep-away camp his counselor had told them they needed to shower in a unique way. He wanted me to tell him the same way. “You smell like a horse, hit the showers”. He says if I ask him that way he won’t fight me. It just seems mean though.

Everyone tells me that once these boys discover girls they won’t need to be reminded about showering and deodorant and grooming etc. But what do I do in the interim? Invest in a gas mask?

Helpful tips desperately needed.

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A mommy of boys rant

We live in Montreal. It gets really cold here outside. Inside our buildings there is tremendous dry heat. Even with a job-lot of moisturizer and Blistex my skin gets dry and my lips get chapped. I moisturize my hands every time I wash them, and before putting on my gloves. I cream my face as often as I can.

My boys’ lips are chapped something awful. I bought them all different kinds of Chapstick but it apparently is not cool to apply it. It’s much better to suffer cracked lips. The little one puts it on, because then he can say he can’t kiss me and that makes him giggle. Gloves? Perish the thought. They will wear them until they are out of my sight line down the street, then stuff them into their pockets, unzip their coats and remove their woolly warm hats. God forbid they show up at school warm and snuggly. Their hands are in desperate need of intensive moisturizer. Squiggy will put cream on at night, because the dry skin bothers his fingers when playing DS or turning book pages, but that’s only when it gets really bad. I even bought non-scented moisturizer so they can’t complain I only have girlie stuff.

Apparently “real men don’t use moisturizer and Chapstick”. So sayeth the teens. Well, kiddoes, I have news for you. I am married to a REAL MAN and he takes care of his skin and his lips. He makes sure his hands are not rough, and that his lips stay soft and moist. (Mmmmmm). I think he is all the more manly for it.

There is nothing tough about being cold and having lips so cracked that they bleed. There is nothing “cool” about having fingers turn blue and feeling like sandpaper. There is nothing manly about wondering whether circulation will ever return to you fingers. There is nothing masculine about complaining to mommy dearest that the skin on your  knuckles are all cracked and you have no idea why. The cure for that, dear heart? Moisturizer. Lotion. Gloves.

Sigh. Will they ever learn??

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We don’t care about stuff like that

Is this a kid thing, a male thing, or just other people?

My son called me yesterday from school while I was out running errands. He had wanted to bring a friend home in his lunch break to install a program on his computer. (He got a hand me down computer from another friend this weekend.)

I said that the house was flying, and I really didn’t want him to bring anyone over until I had had the chance to organize and clean it. Plus his bedroom was not exactly in a welcoming state either. He told me that he doesn’t care about that kind of thing, that it only matters to me, and that they won’t notice the mess. Plus his side of the room was fine. (Hmm, his definition and mine don’t gel. Interesting).

I still put the kibosh on the whole idea. I explained to him that I wasn’t comfortable having any guests until the house met my standards of cleanliness and neatness. He thinks I am crazy. When he says that boys don’t care about mess, he is certainly right. (I just sent him back to his room to pick up hangers off the floor – how can he not notice that they are there? In plain sight!! Argh!)

Would you have done the same or am I obsessed with cleanliness as the kid claims I am?

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Shalom Zachor

This past Friday night I attended my first Shalom Zachor. This is a traditional Friday night gathering to celebrate the birth of a baby boy. I hear what you are thinking. I gave birth to FOUR baby boys and I hadn’t attended one Shalom Zachor? Yes, that’s right. In the neighbourhood where I live it is traditional only for men to go and ‘wet the baby’s head”. Women just don’t go. For two of ours, I was still in the hospital. But even when I wasn’t, it was not my place to go, or so I thought.

So we were notified of this Shalom Zachor in our neighbourhood, and the KoD asked me if I wanted to go. I said no. Women don’t go. He said, but here they do. I looked at him like he was an alien with three heads. The wise man didn’t press the issue, bless him. We ate out at friends Friday night (Rabbi L and the lovely Rebbetzin A – food and company was delicious and awesome as usual) and they asked us if we had planned to go to the Shalom Zachor. Again I gave my shpiel – and again was told that it isn’t like that in New Hempstead. Honestly, I felt really weird going – as if I was transgressing some sin. But if Rabbi L said it was ok, then fine. You know, with the KoD and Rabbi L teamed up against me, I was a goner…

We went. I wished the mommy mazal tov (she looked awesome, especially for someone just having given birth a day or two prior). The women were sat in the living room and the men were sat around a huge table eating yummy foods, drinking beer and having a jolly good time. I got to hold the centre of attention – 9 lbs of absolute yumminess. You forget how small newborns are (not that mine were that big until 2 months of age) and just how snugglable and delicious and cute (when did mine grow up so much?)…The best part of holding him? When he fussed I passed him back to his Grandma.

It was awesome to be part of this ritual. But it got me curious. What is the source for this custom? It is not a law. Just a custom practiced for a long time. And why do we eat chickpeas and drink beer at a Shalom Zachor? Why do we not have something similar for girls? Please quote your sources.

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Open letter to my sons

I love you, you know that. I also happen to know even if sometimes you dislike each other, you love your brothers very much. So please explain to me, dear hearts, why it is that your hands and feet seem to enjoy connecting at regular intervals with various parts of various brothers’ anatomy? You all speak wonderfully well and have enormous vocabularies – why can you not use words to ask your brother(s) to move? Why do you have to shove? And why do you then have to shove back?

Signed, your exasperated mother who wishes her sons could be more gentle yet still keep their masculinity apparent….

PS I am totally enjoying the hugs and squishes that I am getting throughout the day now that school is out, d’you think you could hug and squish each other lovingly too?

Is that what marijuana smells like, Ma?

We ate dinner, me and my 5 sons (yes tonight, I have an extra son, “Blessing” is over) and decided that after cleaning up we would go to the park. But then the oldest 3 (including the extra one) preferred to make their own plans as going to the park with Ima is extremely uncool. (I didn’t get that memo, how was I supposed to know?) Prince HockeyFan decided he wanted to ride his scooter and go see some friends, so it was just me and the ChatterBox who walked together to the local park.

It was a glorious summer evening, hardly a soul about in the park. I parked myself on a bench while he ran around blowing bubbles and then trying to catch them. Sitting on that bench I felt really tranquil and temporarily at peace. Ha!

I heard them before I saw them. Three big kids thundering up the pathway kicking up dust with their size 10 sneakers. Oh. MY kids. Plus one. Except for scootering kid. I guess getting to the park under their own steam was the idea, it was not uncool to “bump” into me and the little brother at the park. It’s the getting to the park that’s not cool to do with a parent. Gotcha.

They were in search of water. One of them has a remote control submarine that actually worked in the bathtub. They wanted to see if it worked in “real” conditions. In this park there is a serious of small piddly little streams, with slight “waterfalls” over them. Think what Barbie’s boat would sail in and then you can imagine the streams. We followed the streams and the submarine until we got to a bigger secluded pool. Perfect for submarine diving. Then Scooter kid showed up. 5 of my boys running around after a 3 inch remote controlled sub in the summer evening. Delightful.

The boys were having a blast until one of them said “Ima, what’s that smell”? I picked up my head and inhaled the pungent air. I looked around, and saw a guy sitting on the far bank smoking. Except it wasn’t tobacco. One of the kids asked me if that was marijuana. How the heck did he know to ask that, and how did he expect that I would know??!! Anyone who has lived in Montreal and visited the tam tam festival and breathed the fragrant air on the mountain in the summer knows. So I was confident in my answer that yes the guy was smoking marijuana and we should move. They were so funny – they tried hard not to breathe in until we were well away from the guy!!

I was initially a little ticked that we had come for a casual evening out and my kids had to be faced with a pot smoker, but then I told myself to chill out (or maybe the fumes got to me 😉 ). He was harmless, the smoke was harmless and there was plenty of space for all of us to “play” in the park. We didn’t make a big deal out of it, the kids learned a lesson to live and let live, and found another pool of water to go deep sea diving in.

The big 4 boys are all sat in front of a Hogan’s Heroes marathon, and the little one is waiting for me to scrub a days worth of dirt off of him in the bath. How do little boys get so darned filthy so quickly? But the best part of this evening – no homework and no school night bedtime. It’s so lovely that we are all so relaxed.

Boys will be boys!


I am quadruply blessed with sons. I am wondering if it is just my children or other male children (perhaps female children too?) that have a total inability to notice mess.


Case in point – their rooms needed *some* tidying up – the boys worked on their rooms for 15-20 minutes and said they were ready. Yes, the rooms looked slightly better than before, but still a lot of work needed to be done.


How hard is it to put clean clothes away? In the proper place? And to put dirty clothes in the laundry? And to have no clothes anywhere on the floor, dresser or windowsill?


I understand that when you are playing Lego you don’t want to clean up what you have built, but does there need to be 16,342 pieces all over the floor? Can’t you just take out of the box what you need and put the other pieces back? How many toy cars can you play with at once?


Answer me this too – they know I am going to check that they did what they were supposed to do. So why do they hide stuff under the beds? In the closets? Isn’t it just simpler to put things away as soon as they have no more need for them? In the correct place? That way when they need that belt or that pair of trousers or that book – it will be in the right place and we don’t have to throw a huge fit that “somebody keeps taking my stuff”.


Sigh. I refuse to go into their rooms and clean and organize without them being there, because I would just throw everything out, and then I would be hated forever, but the rooms would be clean and tidy and I would have less stress.


How do you get your tweens and teens to keep their space clean and tidy and organized?