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Aug 27 2013

Dealing With My Firstborn at My Daughter’s Naming Ceremony

By at 3:19 pm

baby naming ceremony howard wolkeSo last weekend was my daughter’s simchat bat, or baby naming ceremony…

First of all, I’ve got to say that the baby naming was SO much easier to deal with than the brit (circumcision) was for my son J. Of course for starters, you don’t have to worry about any snipping. My wife was thankful for that if nothing else.

Also, it was really nice to be able to decide for ourselves when the ceremony would take place. The eight day requirement is kind of restricting. For E, we were able to look at a calendar and say, “Hmm, when would be the best time for us to do this? When will family be able to come for sure?” Plus the fact that you can basically create your own ceremony that fits your style is really nice, too. So, for all those reasons, there was a lot less stress with the baby naming than the circumcision.

However, the second child’s ceremony does introduce a different type of stress–how to take care of the elder child. J is at that unique age where he isn’t young enough to totally ignore everything that is going on, while still not being old enough to fully understand why people would all be gathered for his baby sister who doesn’t really do much and certainly can’t play with trucks or trains like he can.

Overall, it has been a bit of a challenge for J to adjust to his new baby sister. On the one hand, he loves her. I mean absolutely loves her. All he wants to do is touch/hold/kiss/hug her. He speaks sweetly to her and loves singing “Wheels on the Bus” and the Thomas theme song to her. On the other hand, he got used to having nearly three solid years of practically undivided attention from Mommy and Daddy, and he has been acting out a bit in response. Throw on top of it all his particular sensory needs (he has a sensory processing disorder), and his very verbal nature, and the change has been tough. Fortunately he hasn’t taken it out on E yet, but there have been outbursts and tantrums, particularly when Mommy can’t focus on him but instead has to nurse or otherwise take care of E.

Because of all of this, I wanted to make sure that J had a part in the ceremony and didn’t feel totally ignored by the whole thing. I sent out a tweet a few weeks ago (thanks to @Kveller for retweeting and helping here) asking for suggestions, and I got a few good ones. My favorite was for him to say the final blessing, the Shehechiyanu, the blessing said after a first-time event. He has been particularly interested in Hebrew recently (asking about the Hebrew word for everything from truck to fishbowl), so I thought this would be good.

We practiced for a few days and got through his silliness over some of the words (I think we go to the farm too often; he started saying v’cowimanu, v’pigianu, v’goatimanu). I realized eventually that this was his way of coping with unfamiliar situations–he likes to joke around.

The big day came and he did a great job overall. He was acting out a bit before the actual ceremony got started, so we had a little talk about everything and he became OK with it. I get his issue though. He doesn’t know why his sister gets this special ceremony, particularly considering he doesn’t remember his own (nor would I want him to…).

The ceremony started with us bringing E into the room and having her sit in D’vorah’s chair (instead of the prophet Elijah for a brit, we did the prophetess D’vorah). We explained that piece of things and read a few blessings. During all of that, J was sitting to the side while E was on my wife’s lap. We then passed E to my mother (her nana) and J took that moment to run over into my wife’s lap. This actually made for a nice family moment while we wrapped the tzitzit (fringes) of my grandfather’s tallit (prayer shawl) around E’s wrists and ankles to wish her positive thoughts for the rest of her life. Then my wife and I explained her English and Hebrew names (plenty of tears there), and then J finished it all off with the Shehechiyanu.

He did great with the blessing, but I think the best part of the ceremony was not only his ending prayer, but also that he sat on my wife’s lap and was able to do his own thing while being part of the family event. All in all, I was really proud of him. He’s still jealous and wants more attention, but a few days later, when the baby was crying, he said to her, “It’s OK, you had a party!”

I think that’s his way of saying that he was OK with the party, too.

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