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Jan 31 2014

Torah MOMentary: What is the Point of All These Rules?

By at 9:41 am

girl watching tv

This post is part of our Torah commentary series through the perspective of a new mom. This Shabbat we read Parashat Terumah. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

After binging on Internet reading last Wednesday (thanks in no small part to the polar vortex that kept me and my kids inside far longer than is healthy or recommended), I spiraled down the rabbit hole and beseeched my Facebook friends to tell me if I was letting my kids watch too much TV.

Thirty-six comments later, and I had been reassured that basically, I was within the “acceptable” zone. After the fourth or fifth Curious George episode, I shut the TV off and took the kids to the basement to do some puzzles. I brought my phone. After a half hour of being semi-attentive to them, I realized I wasn’t being even remotely mindful, and spent a few ill-advised minutes panicking about their emotional well-being.

The next morning my husband suggested that we start drizzling the girls’ pancakes (and everything they eat, really) with flax oil. Later that afternoon, my mother intimated that perhaps it’s time to get serious about the potty training. Then I got a call from school that one of my twins had bitten the other one (because we are forever in and out of the biting stage, a Groundhog’s Day of biting, if you will). Sometime around exasperation-o’clock, I read this Forbes.com article about the “crippling” (CRIPPLING!) behaviors that we, as parents, are guilty of. And then after all of that, I read this week’s Torah portion, Terumah, and wanted to cry.

There are too many rules. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 24 2014

Torah MOMentary: Just Like Toddlers, the Israelites Needed Rules

By at 9:50 am

toddler drawing on wall

This post is part of our Torah commentary series through the perspective of a new mom. This Shabbat we read Parashat Mishpatim. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

As a former wedding-industry employee, I can say with confidence that the Revelation at Sinai would have been a very high-ticket event. It had all the elements of the perfect day: a dramatic natural setting; elaborate sound and lights; and at the center, those simple, moving ten commandments –the vows that would eternally bind the Israelites to God. This all happened in last week’s Torah portion.

Rabbis do compare the revelation to a wedding–it’s not just me–and after such a blowout celebration, you might expect a bit of a honeymoon. But instead, the Torah launches straight into a highly unromantic list of rules and laws, ranging from the mundane to the disturbing. Like what to do if someone asks you to watch their cow and the cow dies (depends what happened to the cow). What to do if a man seduces a virgin (he has to marry her). What about the punishment for violent attacks (“eye for an eye,” though as a side note, the rabbis pretty much legislate that out of existence in the Talmud). There are rules about letting slaves go free every seven years, and not taking interest on loans, and, well, I’ll stop, but the list goes on.

It seems a little weird as a wedding follow-up. On the other hand, as the parent of a toddler, this litany of rules feels disturbingly normal.  Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 21 2013

My Daughter Got Busted Wearing a Bikini

By at 9:53 am

bikini at campI am pleased to report that Lilly, our 10-year-old, is enjoying her time at overnight camp at this very moment. In fact… she looked ever-so-happy in a picture posted on their site yesterday… in a bikini …the kind that I don’t allow her to wear.

That’s right; I’m one of “those” mothers. My daughter can pick out whatever she wants at the store but knows that I have veto power. Like the president. Only without any provisions to override.

Except she has now figured out a way to get around my veto; borrow the forbidden bikini while she’s at camp. Away from Mama Dictator’s eyes. Very clever. However, she must have forgotten I’d see the photo when she was mugging for the camera.

BUSTED! Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 17 2012

From Sesame Street to Say Yes to the Dress

By at 9:56 am
sesame street characters

Hello, old friends.

I love to read and I average three literary novels a month. But I also admit, without shame, to loving TV. And except for Modern Family, now that Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire are off the air for the season, there is just not that much to watch.

Except the really dumb shows. Which I love. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 11 2012

Mama’s Dinnertime Rules

By at 2:29 pm

home cooking that will please youI love it when other parents pull back the curtain and expose their parenting style, and not just so I can indulge in a little schadenfreude. It provides me with an opportunity to gaze inward, question, and perhaps modify my own parenting choices.

Cara recently wrote a post about her life as a Laid Back Mama, and it got me thinking about meal time at our house. I’ve written before about feeding toddlers, but that was about the food, not the manners. I’d like to think of myself as pretty mellow, but as my husband, my daughters, or anyone who has spent at least seven minutes with me will tell you, I’m just not. Especially not at dinnertime.

Now, before I share with you my own brand of Mama Crazy, you should know I come by it honestly. My father’s heritage is German, and even though our family has been in the States for over a century, we’ve still got the obnoxious last name and the anal-retentive obsession with manners and punctuality to prove it. My great-grandfather used to bark out numbered rules at the dinner table; my father remembers that 1 meant “sit down,” 2 was “shut up,” and 7 was “elbows off the table”. I think my Dad has blocked the rest from his memory, and understandably so.

I haven’t numbered our mealtime rules (yet), but like a good yekke, I do have expectations for how my daughters (ages 3 and 18 months) should behave at the table. Yes, it’s probably genetic and cultural (my husband is also half-German, and he and his parents also appreciate good manners), but I do believe that teaching your children how to act at the table is important. Most social gatherings and Jewish holidays include meals–prime opportunities for family and friends to judge you and your parenting abilities get to know your kids (and vice versa), which tends to go a lot better for everyone if the kids behave. Even when you’re home alone, you’ve still got three meals a day to get through, and there’s no reason why they can’t be enjoyable for everyone. Read the rest of this entry →

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