Oct 23 2014
As soon as the ultrasound revealed that my wife, Abi, was pregnant with a boy, I started worrying about the bris. Not worrying about who would perform it, or where we would order the cold cuts from, but about the conversation I would inevitably have to have with Abi about the fact that I didn’t want our son to have one.
Being an accomplished catastrophist, I have a knack (and a formalized strategy) for making things seem worse than they actually are, and when it finally came time to have the dreaded summit with Abi about the dissection of my future son’s penis, it didn’t go anything like I had anticipated. It wasn’t stilted or awkward or painful, it wasn’t violent or even dramatic. I said, “Look—I don’t want Elijah to have a bris. It’s a medical procedure and it should be done in a hospital by a physician.”
She patted me on the shoulder and replied, “Gabe, I know you hate being Jewish; it’s OK. We’re having a bris and that’s it.” Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 9 2014
My youngest baby, Hope, is fast approaching 7 months old. Though we are not currently members of any synagogue, our lack of shul membership doesn’t necessarily translate into a lack of faith. My husband and I are Jewish and we want to raise our children Jewish. And while one of their first introductions to this faith will be the ceremony where we give our child a Hebrew name, we haven’t done it yet. But it’s time to start planning.
In Judaism, the naming ceremony for boys is part of the brit milah or bris, the ritual circumcision that most Jewish boys receive in the first week after their birth. It’s a straightforward, if not uncomfortable process that looked something like this with my son: I was eight days post-partum and was largely a walking ball of emotions. Our house was filled with some close friends and family but mostly extended family that I did not know or recall or even like. A mohel (one who performs ritual Jewish circumcisions) showed up and claimed he had circumcised nearly every little boy in the tri-state area. He said a couple of blessings that I did not understand over my tiny helpless son who lay sobbing on top of our card table, and he carefully removed my son’s foreskin. Everyone celebrated as my baby screamed. Someone removed the baby and the iodine and replaced it with a platter of rice that my husband’s grandmother had made for the occasion. A group of old women sat down at the exact same table where this whole ridiculous scene had just taken place and started noshing and kibitzing. I grabbed my son and the rugelach tray and hid in my bedroom where I sobbed and binged on pastries.
In every way, this ceremony felt like it was more about religious to-dos and tasks and less about faith. I recognize this was my personal experience with my son’s bris, but nonetheless it cut me sharply (no pun intended) that his first introduction to Judaism was seemingly so full of ritual, yet so lacking in spirituality. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 10 2014
This Monday, for the first time, my eldest son and I saw eye to eye.
I do not mean in the metaphorical sense.
After I’d driven the other children to camp, Aryeh joined me on the sidewalk outside our apartment building so we could take our morning walk. Glancing over my left shoulder to ask him which direction we should walk in, I discovered that I no longer had to look down to catch his eye. Our gazes were exactly level. My son–my baby!–was now as tall as me. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 1 2014
So I saw this Verizon commercial going around on Facebook that had really good intentions. The purpose was to help encourage girls to go into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). And while I fully support that idea, the way they did it really ticked me off.
If you haven’t seen it, it starts with a young girl (maybe 1 year old or so) running towards the camera and a parent calling her a “pretty girl.” Then it moves onto the girl growing up and exploring and trying new, mostly science/engineering things, and the parents continually stopping her from trying these things and reprimanding her for getting dirty or whatever else. The commercial ends with the girl, now in high school, looking at a sign for the science fair, but then getting out lip gloss–choosing instead to focus on her looks. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 29 2014
While giving my children cups for a meal the other day, my 5-year-old son rejected the pink cup I offered. “Not pink!” he said. “Pink is for girls!”
I was pretty astonished, even though I knew he had already been picking up on the societal dictation of gender colors. He had requested purple and pink shirts from my parents when he realized he didn’t have any but his sister had plenty in her multi-colored wardrobe, a wardrobe we have worked hard on. In fact, when we found out that we were pregnant with a girl, we immediately told our families not to give her anything pink, completely aware that this would only manage the flow of pink that she would inevitably receive, not make it go away completely.
It’s not that we actually hate the color pink. Pink used to be my favorite color when I was my son’s age. In fact, when we moved and my parents asked me what color I wanted my room, I said pink. And there I was for the next 10-12 years in a pink room. By high school, when it was time to re-paint, I was relieved to request a green room. I was done with pink as my favorite color. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 12 2014
I’ve always found the nature versus nurture discussion interesting. Now that I am the mom of a boy and a girl, it’s downright fascinating. It’s from that perspective that I rolled my eyes after I watched the commercial for GoldieBlox that Kveller posted.
The thing I probably love the most about my daughter, Ellie, who’s 4, is that she will dress herself in full princess garb, crown to slipper, and then march outside to examine bugs with her yellow magnifying glass, moving dirt around and onto her tulled tushy with a red or blue shovel. This is also her outfit of choice to wear while she does experiments from her multicolored science kit.
Ellie’s favorite color is pink, with purple in close second. She plays with her dolls – stuffed and Barbie–and is always the mom. She has a jewelry box stuffed with plastic baubles that she wears with the pride of a woman who just received an engagement ring. Ellie couldn’t be girlier if she tried. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 6 2014
Charlie White with ice dancing partner Meryl Davis
First, I was a figure skating fan, then I was a figure skating TV researcher/producer, then I was a figure skating mystery novelist, and currently I’m a hodge-podge of all the above.
I am referencing my C.V. in order to explain why, while I don’t know the total number of Jews on Team USA for the Sochi Olympics, I do know that there are three of them in the figure skating delegation: two-time World Ice Dancing Champion and defending Olympic silver medalist Charlie White, singles skater Jason Brown, and pairs skater Simon Shnapir. (Ladies’ singles skater Gracie Gold is, alas, not Jewish, despite the name.)
That’s right, the US is being represented at the Olympics by three nice, Jewish boys. The latter actually emigrated from Moscow as a toddler.
It stands to reason. Figure skating is a huge sport in Russia. It’s a huge sport in America, too. But, primarily for girls. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 27 2012
We’ve made some pretty lovely budget-friendly birthday parties in our day. For my older son’s 3rd birthday party we celebrated him reaching the “age of education” by decorating kippot and tzedakah boxes and doing Aleph Bet Yoga. For the baby’s 2nd birthday we did an all-out Elmo party that cost just $25.
But our schedules have been jam-packed these days, and poverty be damned, I was totally resigned to throwing money at the birthday party problem this year. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 11 2012
My son loves garbage trucks. Every morning, without fail, he keeps his eyes peeled. When he finds one, he says, “Mommy, Ga-bage Tuck! Watch it?“
Having raised three girls before him (and another girl after), this vehicular fetish is a bit new to me. The novelty of his request is a big part of why I am so willing to indulge my waste-dump-loving little man whenever possible. Plus, I never tire of seeing his wide, saucer eyes light up as the stinky garbage cans get dumped into the truck and crushed by…whatever that crushing thing is. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 30 2012
I guess these guys are cool?
I knew as a mother, I was going to have to teach my kids things, like teach my daughter to put on makeup, or my son to ride a bike. But this? Seriously?
I am now expected to do something as a parent I never expected to do. I need to teach my 6-year-old how to be cool. (Huh, what? Can’t I teach him about sex instead? That might be simpler.)
To the outside world, Reuben is like every other 6-year-old. But we have a secret. What comes natural to other kids can take upwards of 100 hours to teach him. My son is on the Autism Spectrum. So far every issue we have faced, I have taken in stride, until now…. Read the rest of this entry →