My daughter’s preschool teacher has created a daily task in which we, the parents, write “mitzvah notes” for our children each day. These notes are meant to describe the ways in which our children are helpful, cooperative, or did good deeds. The notes are read in class with the children, who, I am told, are excited to hear and discuss the good things they have done.
I must admit that when I first learned about this task, I considered it a burden. How, I wondered, could we be expected to come up with a good deed that our 3-year-old did each day? Have you ever met a 3-year-old? I knew it would be far easier to rattle off “not so mitzvah notes,” like so:
You are coming soon. And when you arrive, we will bless you. But for whom is this blessing? Is it for you? Or is it for us?
I can already feel the moment. It’s January, and the wind is leaking through the window. Your mother will be spent, and in the drafty night, crankily demand that I try to soothe you.
You will be at my shoulder, both of us stuck between sleep and alertness, barely able to see.
And then will come my blessing for you, remembering how my father and I recited the Shema together before bed. We would name each aunt, each uncle, each cousin, and then finish with a patriotic flourish that invited God to look after “all the Jewish people, the United States, and all Earth.”
My wife and I often talk about how fascinating it would be to be flies on the wall at our daughter’s Jewish preschool. It’s the ultimate parent fantasy–to see how your children behave when you’re out of sight. At home, we take delight in those few moments when our 3-year-old daughter cozies up in a corner of our apartment reading to herself; creating a story with toy figures or stuffed animals, unaware as we watch from a doorway.
As parents, we see our children in all of their many phases and moods.
And it is precisely because we are their parents that they feel
comfortable enough to scream and tantrum and test us in many ways
as they learn life’s boundaries and the limits of their autonomy
during childhood. But then (as if it’s a minor miracle) there are
those moments when our children are so sweet, inquisitive,
insightful, or loving, and I’m pretty sure this is how my daughter
behaves most of the day at preschool.
So, I want to take kvelling to the next level.
Imagine if I could be reduced to my daughter’s size and attend
preschool with her.
What fun I could have filling my days with coloring, painting, and
sculpting clay next to my daughter. We could build with blocks, read
wonderful books for the first time, and make first friends. There’s
also this thing called naptime. NAP TIME. Did you hear that? I need
more of that in my life.
When I was a kid, my mother was the only one in our apartment who would ever even attempt to make repairs. The rest of us would hover around her like tribesmen watching their Medicine Man heal a baby. And my mom was the one who would tighten light switch plates using the edge of a butter knife because we didn’t own a flat head screwdriver. Thus the only thing I entered adulthood knowing how to fix was a martini. And trying to repair anything else made me want that martini.
So as Sukkot rolled around, there was no way my daughter could have known how stressful it was for me to decide to build a sukkah. She stood next to me on our deck, wearing an eager smile and brand new Cinderella work gloves. I should note that it was her enthusiasm that landed me in this spot in the first place. Her Sunday School teacher had asked if anyone’s family was planning to build a sukkah, and almost all of her friends raised a hand. I recall it was the manner in which she later asked me that made it impossible for me to say no–it was so adult.
If your Facebook was anything like ours, it seems the new Father’s Day tradition is to post as many cute pictures of dads and kids as you can. We asked you send in your favorite photos over the weekend, and you definitely delivered in the cute department! Check out the slideshow below to see amazing photos of dads with kids–from then and now. If you’d like to add your own picture to the slideshow, it’s not too late to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
If Father’s Day and Mother’s Day threw down in a commercialized holiday ultimate fighting championship, Mother’s Day would serve up a knock out win, hands down. Using the greeting card aisle as the litmus test, mothers are honored for selflessness and beauty while fathers are honored for farting and grilling. Mothers are pampered and fathers are mocked in a time where Y chromosomes are stepping up and into the parenting arena like never before. What used to be touted as novel, hands-on fathering is now just considered: being a dad.
Here we are in the middle of viral posts and best-selling theories about how to have it all, do more with less, and bend over backwards transcending physics to prove we can truly be in two (or five) places at once without anyone suffering. But one of the major accomplishments of our generation is the blurring of gender roles in child rearing. How can we celebrate what women are doing in the workplace without honoring what men are doing at home? Al Bundy didn’t cook a meal or clear a plate and now if Daddy isn’t changing diapers you better believe he’s getting the stare down. Fatherhood.gov (in addition to producing the most adorable PSA on the planet) reports that almost 90% of today’s dads spend more time with their children than their own fathers did with them. Being a dad, more importantly being an involved dad is, dare I say it–trending. Read the rest of this entry →
It’s one of the first rules of parenting: don’t play favorites. And I don’t, really, even on those days when my daughter’s initially polite gurgles turn into screaming demands for a bottle at 5 a.m. and my son strolls downstairs closer to 9, well after I’ve had my coffee and am a cheerful–well, functioning–human being.
But when it comes to my son playing favorites (my daughter is still a baby, and thus still unversed in the art of emotional manipulation), it’s hard not to be delighted when I am clearly the preferred parent. There were always certain things–breakfast, shopping trips, snuggling, and especially bedtime stories–that were entirely my domain. And I liked it that way. Our home was Mommyland and I was the queen, minus the Corgis and inflated salary. It wasn’t so much being picked over my husband, really, that gave me a rush, but being so utterly adored and needed and the only one who could kiss a skinned knee, clean and bandage it, and make it all better.
Few of us can deny loving being needed, and fewer can deny the exceptional high that comes from being so unabashedly admired. Read the rest of this entry →
I have never liked having a fuss made over me. I skipped both my high school and my college graduation ceremonies because I didn’t see a point to the long-winded, tedious ritual (held outside in the heat, no less). My husband and I got married at City Hall, because I felt the same way about weddings. (Maybe I inherited the trait from my own mother. Whenever we go to a friend’s wedding, she always tells my husband and I, “Thank you so much for not putting me through this.”) Read the rest of this entry →
I am not a fan of baseball. I’ve never understood the draw of the game, and could never comprehend the passion people have for it. My closest friends from college are all crazy baseball fans; they’re involved with fantasy leagues, spending hours arguing over who has better players.
I didn’t get it. After all, I didn’t play baseball as a kid. I never watched it on TV. I never played catch with my dad, who was never around. My only real experience with baseball was occasionally–very occasionally–going to Shea or Yankee Stadium to see games with my camp or friends. We’d sit all the way at the top, in the cheap seats, directly in the summer sun. There we’d sit, broiling, as all the action occurred amongst the ants on the field far below. In my opinion, a slower, duller game could not have been invented. Y-A-W-N. Read the rest of this entry →
I recently read an article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek entitled, “Alpha Dads: Men Get Serious About Work-Life Balance.” Don’t be fooled, though–these are not dads who fight for work-life balance for all. Rather, they’re serious about work-life balance…for dads. Deloitte Dads, one such organization, is a group to help fathers with time management and family issues in the name of spending more time with their kids. Dads, they contend, are an unacknowledged victim of all the talk about mothers’ work-life balancing act.