Archive for the ‘Life as a kid’ Category

I am the first to admit that I have my moments as a mother. Like when I make enormous mistakes, yell too much, or am generally super-impatient-slash-expect-too-much of my little people.

But where I go right, I think, is leaving the kids alone to be inventive and creative and let them do kind of bizarre (though 100% safe) things in the fertile soil of their imaginations. I don’t make them clean up right away, unless it’s taking over the dining room table.

Then sometimes days go by and my environment seems kind of…Dali-esque.

(Those are carob pods, by the way. Not dried dog poop or something like that.)

Because I am hoping that for all my faults, and they are numerous, my kids will have nicer things to say about me than Calvin does about his parents.


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More books

I started reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to AM last night. He probably was around when I read it to Miss M, years ago, but now he really understands it. He made me read two chapters and wanted more. But it was late.

I’m excited to read it again; classic Dahl (like James and the Giant Peach) never wears out its welcome.

But is this the beginning of the end for picture books?

I hope not. Some of them are mind-numbingly bad or boring or stupid, but here are a few of my favorites. I could read these over and over again–and get to more often now, because half the time AM says, “You choose one!” at reading time.

  • Miss Rumphius – Barbara Cooney
  • Little Blue, Little Yellow – Leo Lionni (I believe he wrote this for his grandchildren)
  • The Incredible Book Eating Boy – Oliver Jeffers
  • The Hello, Goodbye Window – Norton Juster
  • Say Hello to Zorro – Carter Goodrich

What are your favorite picture books?


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Just the normal stuff going on here at Chez Tired. Work, school, dog shenanigans, crankiness, coffee, and disorganization. Achla! (Excellent!)

I have been doing some reading though. On my bedside table is Anne of Green Gables, which I am re-reading and (of course) loving. Anne Shirley reminds me so much of Miss M. Minus the orphan thing. But the spunky ‘tude, red hair, daydreaming, and 25-cent vocabulary? Yes.

Of course, the 25-cent vocabulary of an 11-year-old is different than that of a 7-year-old, so I’m holding on to this book for myself until Miss M is more willing to use her dictionary.

I’ve read some really amazing things this week on the Internet though. Apologies if you’re my Facebook friend because you’ve seen a lot of this.

  • My parenting style, carefully honed for years, is validated. Seriously, if there is one thing I am pretty sure I am doing right, it’s letting my kids have a lot of unstructured time. Reading and writing and drawing and fantasy scenarios are so important to Miss M. AM loves his cars, lining them up and scooting them around. They both love books. They run around the park playing imaginary who knows what, but I try to stay out of it. Unless someone is doing something dangerous or potentially criminal. Kidding about the criminal part. (I think.)
  • One of my biggest issues with Orthodox Judaism. Sexual and physical abuse, corruption and fraud? Well, whatever, people are only human. But trying to make Orthodox Judaism more inclusive, attempting to push the envelope for more committed Jews? Not acceptable. I think this attitude is pretty messed up. Glad others do too.
  • Someone mentioned in passing in the above article, a gay, Modern Orthodox rabbi, explains why and how he chose to perform a civil partnership ceremony, with Jewish religious elements, for two men. Honestly, it made me want to stand up and cheer. This rabbi, and this couple, are being so incredibly brave by simply living their lives as they were created. Rabbi Greenberg went so far as to create vows for them–because there is no such thing as a religious gay wedding ceremony in Orthodox Judaism–and how they would dissolve them, religiously, if they decided to end their civil marriage. So much thought and care.
  • A Facebook friend tagged me to read this article, and I think it is so true. My day job(s) involve(s) a lot of content writing, and it is a fine line between using real words and SEO words. Bleh. At least I am no longer actively working for the US government. Those people eat, drink, sleep, and breathe acronyms.
  • A dose of heartbreak. Please don’t let this happen to any child.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

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Once again, Miss M astounds me.

Remember The Case of the Mitzvah Coupons?

We certainly learned our lesson from that experience. Miss M and Taxman pored over the extra-credit packet that came home over Sukkot and completed about 90% of it. (There was a page that Taxman puzzled over for a while and finally said, “I have no idea what this is about.” So I wasn’t going to touch it. Clearly.) She earned about 30 coupons for it and stashed them in an envelope that she hung on the fridge–waiting for the end-of-semester junk fiesta.

Then the other day Miss M mentioned that she was given a coupon for, essentially, best tefilah (prayers) of the morning.

“Wow,” I said, “that’s great.”

And it is, because it probably meant that she was not only participating, but doing so appropriately–with her prayerbook open, voice modulated, and being generally attentive. These are not usually her strong suits, so I’m guessing that she’s working at it and her teacher noticed. While I think her teacher loves how her mind works and her enthusiastic participation, she generally does not bring home rave reviews for behavior while in class.

“So you can put your coupon in the coupon envelope,” I continued.

“But I gave it to C,” she said.

“What? To hold?”

“No, I gave it to her. Because she doesn’t have many coupons.”

(C is also the oldest child, as well as the victim of equally fresh/seasoned Immigrant Parenting ™–twice as many kids in her family, though.)

“That was really nice of you,” I said. “Did she ask you for it? Or did she look sad?”

“She looked sad. I know she didn’t have many coupons.”

So, wow, I guess. She either remembered that people shared coupons with her last year, or she is being taught All the Right Things. Or both?

I seriously doubt that as a pretty new second grader I would have felt compelled to share my rewards like that. Hell, I’m not all that compelled to do it now.

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Instead of coming to synagogue in the second shift (with me and AM) lately, Miss M has been going when Taxman does. This gives them some time to work on her tefilah together. She prays and listens a bit to the Torah reading, perhaps looking at a book after that or slipping outside to play with her classmates who attend the same synagogue as we do.

Both kids are getting reliably mature enough that I can leave them to their own devices (the kids’ service, in with Taxman, or playing with friends) and go in to pray myself.*

I did just that yesterday, poking my head out from time to time to check on them.

“Did you hear?” a lovely British fellow said to me just as things were finishing up. “Miss M gave the dvar Torah [little speech about the Torah portion of the week]!”

“Um. What?” I asked, panic rising in my voice.

“Well, during the dvar Torah she gave a little speech. It was adorable!”

“She interrupted the rabbi?”

“No, it was someone else who spoke. But she was so poised and clever!”

I kind of buried my head in my hands as he was telling me this.

“You know, it’s funny,” he remarked, “Taxman had exactly the same reaction when she opened her mouth.”

Half a dozen people made comments (uniformly positive) to me as they were coming out of the sanctuary. I corralled Taxman as he emerged. “What did she say?” I practically hissed at him.

He told me whom she had interrupted (the father of 3 little girls–thankfully the synagogue is full of parents who are likely to be tolerant of…things like this) and explained that the speaker had asked a rhetorical question.

O ho! Well. That’s just like stinging Ferdinand on the tush. Letting questions–rhetorical be damned–go unanswered is tantamount to treason.

So Miss M answered the question. With aplomb, apparently, because easily 60 men and 10 women heard it and were impressed. “She should give the dvar Torah next week!” someone told me. Even today, someone I did not even know stopped me on my way to school pickup. “I heard your daughter was the star of the week yesterday!”


* This is, remarkably, worth mentioning–as it’s the first time in about 7 years that I’ve been at this point.

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Being five

Before I was a parent, I had no idea what I was getting into.

(Of course.)

I had no idea what parts I would enjoy, and what parts I wouldn’t (although I could guess at some of them), or even that the same parts manifested in different children would feel different to me.

I did, however, guess that having a five-year-old would be great in a lot of ways. The reason I thought this was because of my brother. I’m significantly older than he is; when he was five, I was already in high school. He was (and is) gregarious and funny and smart, and dinner time with him was like (clean–and also entertaining) amateur standup. My mom and stepdad and I would just sit there and eat, waiting for terribly amusing stream-of-consciousness chatter to drop from his lips.

We rarely left dinner empty-handed. (As it were.) No filter makes for funny stuff.

Now that I am the parent, I readily admit that the constant WHYS and HOWS are wearying. I am, frankly, looking forward to my brother’s next visit, when I become the persona non grata who makes the food, and he is the SHINING BEACON OF ALL THAT IS GOOD.

But I digress. Here is my story that I am pretty sure at least two of you will find raucously funny.

Thursday night, the second night of Rosh Hashana, we hosted our lovely friends the Altmans. They are used to our children. And our dog. So they can pretty much come whenever they want.

AM was abuzz because he had scored my permission to use my subway mug as his cup during dinner. It is an enormous 20 ounce behemoth, but NO MATTER. It has a map of the New York City subway system on it, so therefore it trumps all other ceramicware we own. He of course pointed out the features of the mug to all within earshot.

And the conversation moved on.

A few minutes later, in a lull, he piped up: “I’m so frustrated!”

(Alissa shot me a look to say, “Um, what?”)

“AM, are you sure you’re frustrated?” (This is a word that I use all the time, but I didn’t know that he knew what it meant.)

“Yes. I’m frustrated,” he patiently explained, “because [pronounced sing-songingly “bee-CAUSE”] I’ve only been on a few of these subway lines. Not all of them.”

And then he and Miss M proceeded to have an animated discussion about our Manhattan adventure this summer that involved service disruptions and switching from the C to the A to the 1.

And…fin. Being five. Still six months to go.

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But it’s ok.

To wit, today’s conversation from the car, after swimming pool + picnic dinner.

Miss M: “Ema, what happens if you get sick when you’re on the ocean?”

Me: “Do you mean traveling over the ocean or swimming in it?”

Miss M: “If you’re swimming. If you’re swimming across the ocean! Alone!”

Me: “Well, there are people who can swim very far distances in the ocean, but they’re not by themselves. They have…”

AM, interrupting excitedly: “What if they were giants?”

Me: “Giants?”

AM: “Yeah! Giants could swim very far!”

Me, trying to go back to my point about long-distance swimmers and their support teams: “Ok, but are giants real?”

Miss M: “No!”

AM: “Yes!”

AM: “I know a giant! He’s very, very tall!”

Miss M: “How tall?”

AM: “Up to Hashem!”

Miss M: “To the reykiah!” [heaven, firmament]

There was more about the measurements of giants vs Hashem. Interesting since, you know, one of them is supposed to be INFINITE. If I were quibbling, which I am not, because if you’ll notice I dropped out of the conversation and was singing along to a Yehuda Poliker song on the radio.

Topics of discussion during bathtime included: the Earth’s tilt on its axis to create seasons and white blood cells vs germs. No, didn’t complete a thought on those either. It could be a very interesting summer…if you have the attention span of a fruit fly.

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