The other day I was running errands, and had to drive on residential streets to get to a couple of places. At one stop, I saw a 4 year old girl on the side of the road beckoning to someone on the other side of the street. I had to quickly slam on my brakes as there was a toddler, an 18 month old, wobbling her way across the street when there were cars driving on both sides. The toddler stopped in front of my car and smiled and waved, and promptly sat down. (As I read this over, I can hear you say that there is no way this really happened. It did. I wish I was making it up).
The sister beckoned to the little kid, who took his/her time getting up and moseying on over to the other side of the road, leaving it clear for me to drive. I was shaken. Where the heck was the mother? The father? You leave your toddler in the care of a six year old, who is unaware that the road is not a place for her younger sibling to be playing?? What is wrong with you?
Happens to be I know these people. Not well. Just enough to say hello to if I see them at the grocery store.
Do I say something? If I say something they are going to feel judged, as they should. They may just take it as if I am sticking my nose in where it isn’t wanted. My purpose in telling them would be so that they could keep a closer eye on all their children. G-d forbid one of them gets hurt due to their negligence. This isn’t the first incident that I have seen negligence on their part concerning their children. Or do I just pray that the children are kept safe by G-d? What would you do?
Why is it that I feel so awful after I discipline my kids, even though they totally deserve a consequence to their actions?
Case in point – one of the boys was asked to tidy something away before bedtime. A reasonable request, one that was asked in a calm tone. The answer was an extremely defiant “No” which escalated into said child yelling and slamming doors. A huge no-no in this house.
I told him that the next five times he asks something of me, my answer will be “No”. He didn’t like that idea at all. He didn’t think that was fair. But I figure it puts the point across fair and square and the punishment indeed fits the crime. He is also not allowed out on his bike today after school. That punishment is for the tremendous chutzpah he showed in his defiance, the slamming doors etc.
He deserves to learn his lesson. So why do I feel awful? I already used up one of the noes. I was making his lunch. I got the cream cheese out of the fridge. He asked if he could have tuna instead. I said “No, not today.” And reminded him that he has 4 noes left now. (And truly, making him tuna would not have been difficult at all).
He left for school, as if nothing happened yesterday. Yet I still feel hungover from it. I am also still waiting for an apology. I will stand firm and follow through, I always do, but why does it have to hurt so much??
My son was trying to unscrew something and got a little mixed up with what way he was supposed to go. The littlest guy piped up “lefty loosey rightey tightey.” I asked him where he learned that – he said he has known it forever. But it works! And this cute phrase is something that will always remind him which way to turn a spanner or a screwdriver. I still get confused. Wish I had learned this as a child.
What other cute but helpful sayings did you learn as a child, or have your children learned?
In our house either everyone volunteers to help in the kitchen at once, or no one volunteers. I cannot have everyone helping in the kitchen – too many cooks, and all that. KoD loves to help in the kitchen too – being married to a man with detailed knowledge of food safety practices is always interesting, lol!! So much I didn’t know….
Anyhow, with the back pain issue, and with me wanting the kids to be willing to help and to think helping is second nature, we had to come up with something that would teach them the skills, help me at the same time and not drive me insane while in the midst of food prep.
The “Weekly Kitchen Slave” was born. See, we already have a weekly turn of who gets to sit in the front of the car when the KoD is driving and Ima isn’t in the passenger seat. This cuts down on fighting when you have 3 old enough to sit in the front!! So why not have a weekly turn of who gets to help Ima in the kitchen.
We started it on Friday, and there have been no fights. It’s Lenny’s turn (oh the fun of being the oldest). He was watching a movie when I called out “Oh Kitchen Slave, Oh Kitchen Slave!” and he came running. (Ok, fine, he slouched into the kitchen with remote control in hand).
For five minutes he washed some dishes and opened some canned veggies for me, and put some stuff in the dishwasher. He must have looked at his watch a bazillion and seven times! But no complaining, because he knew it was his turn to be the kitchen slave. I should really call them sous chef, but kitchen slave has a nice ring to it.
We’ll see how it works once they all go back to school – but I think that we are onto a winning system here.
How does it work in your house?
Sometimes the kids, they surprise you. After a day of telling them off, and picking up after them, because after your bazillionth reminder to pick their socks up off the floor, they still haven’t heard you, and after a day of slowly watching your hair turn grey (or fall out) after their latest antics, they can do it, they can totally remind you just why you love them so much.
It can be a simple hug at bedtime, or an “I love you” thrown over their shoulder as they go to brush their teeth. It can be the instinctive act of catching a brother as he trips over his own feet, or sharing a forbidden piece of candy with him. It can be as trivial as “I remembered to put the seat down” and as big as “I folded all the towels when the dryer dinged, Ima”.
There are days when we totally need reminders of why we love these little people. Sometimes we just take it for granted that they are there, in much the same way that they take for granted that we will always be there for them, picking up their socks and cooking their meals and nagging the heck out of them.
Take a moment to remember why you love the little people in your life. Cherish that thought. Savour that feeling. Make it your mantra. Because you know, you know 1000%, that these kids will test you more tomorrow and the day after. And it’s only because you love them so darn much that you look forward to everything they will throw at you and will accept it with grace and fortitude, because you are Mom, and you know that all this testing is helping them to grow up to be decent human beings. Life lessons must be lived to be learned.
Embrace it all, the good and the annoying, because it is a blessing to have our children in our lives.
When I am out without my kids or my husband, invariably at least one person asks me “oh, so is your husband babysitting?” I always answer “My husband is not babysitting, he is spending quality time with our children”. I take great offense to the assumption that if a father is watching the kids, it is called babysitting!! You would never dream of asking any mom if she babysits her kids – it just would seem an outrageous question, an insult and totally moronic.
So, tell me this, why do so many people call it babysitting when Dad is in charge?!!
We have a rule in our house, no matter where you are or who you are with, everyone is at the supper table at 6pm, and all friends must return to their own houses. The supper hour is family time for us, a time to reconnect and bask in familial love.
If you are a parent, you are familiar with the question that gets asked a million and one times from 4 pm onwards. “What’s for supper?” My favourite answer to them is “fresh air sandwiches” – after all if I am making something they have decided not to like, I will have to hear whining about if for two hours, and I am so not in the mood for that any day of the week.
I make a wicked lasagna. Really really good lasagna. But two out of the brood will not eat it. That’s fine. I know in advance and I have another option available, usually. It’s their loss, but hey, all the more for us lasagna eaters.
The other night the boys (a selection of them) decided to go hang out at a neighbour’s house around 5pm. “Be home for supper” I called to them as they left. “No problem, Ima”. And they came back by 6pm. Having eaten pizza over at their friend’s house. I was more than a little miffed. I cooked supper, was looking forward to having everyone around us at the table, they had eaten already and were not interested in sitting at the table watching everyone else eat. They had brought their friend back with them as they had plans later on together – so I was not going to embarrass them by making a big deal about it.
Is this worth making a big deal over if it’s just a one time thing? Is this typical child behaviour or does it show a lack of respect? If they left to the friend’s house with the intention of eating pizza there so they didn’t have to eat at home – to me that’s heinous, and shows premeditation and sneakitude. If it just so happened that they were over there and then decided to have pizza, it’s less heinous.
What do you think? Heinous or harmless?
I have a close friend who has an adorable 6 year old daughter who hasn’t met a question she didn’t want the answer to. This delicious bundle of energy asks questions on your answers, so you had better not be telling her porkies.
Well, school is out for the summer and she has been home chilling out at Camp Mommy. While her mother was busy with cooking dinner and doing laundry she took it upon herself to explore the house, to see if she could find some treasure. She found herself in her parents’ bedroom.
My friend is in the kitchen cooking dinner, when her daughter appears with a box of condoms in her hands. “Mommy, what are these?”
Now, my friend is of the belief that you always need to tell the truth to your kids, in an age appropriate manner. But these people are somewhat religious (and this manner of birth control is frowned upon), and to hear her daughter tell a friend the next day that mommy and daddy don’t want a baby so they use these things called condoms, and then explain the whole baby making thing – well, she didn’t want to have to deal with that and the potential fall out.
The child received a lesson in not going through other people’s stuff, but we know we all did it as kids. (Sorry Mum!!)
How would you have answered this bright and inquisitive child?
I try hard not to demand too much from the boys, especially in the summer where they are supposed to be able to chill out. However, yesterday, as they were getting ready to go to shul for maariv at the end of the fast, I insisted that my son change his shorts for long trousers. There was much eye rolling. Apparently “God doesn’t really care what you wear to shul so long as you show up”. Um. No. I believe it is inherently disrespectful to show up to a place of worship looking like you just stepped off a basketball court. The night before he had ridden his bike for an hour before maariv and I insisted he showered before going – I am apparently a very demanding mom. Seriously, to me, when you go to shul, you must show more respect than when you are just hanging out at home with your friends. It doesn’t make me a hypocrite – it’s not pretending that you are different, it’s just dressing appropriately for the occasion.
While there was eye rolling going on, his friend who was hanging out with him told him that he was going home to change before shul as his mother also doesn’t let him go to shul in shorts. Score one for the mommies.
Demanding? Or justified?
It’s summer time and the living is easy. Well, easier than getting the kids up and off to school every day. The pace is more relaxed – life is less stressful. That being said, we never forget that we are religious Jews, and our religious practice still dictates the same things that they do in school time.
I have two boys over barmitzvah, one 9 months away from “becoming a man”. The KoD goes to shul every morning, to daven (pray) with a minyan (a quorum of ten men over the age of 13). I expect the same of my oldest two – and there is a later minyan than the 7 am one the KoD goes too. There is one at 8 am throughout the summer.
How much do I push for them to go? Shouldn’t this be something that should be their choice, or should I expect it of them and do my darndest to drag their tired selves out of bed? They can daven at home, but it is so much better to daven with a minyan.
What do you do with your teenage boys in this regard? What worked for you as a teenage observant boy? What are your thoughts?