Sunday, December 26, 2004

Come All Ye Faithful

What a wonderful Shabbat!!! One of our board members had a great idea; invite everyone to a potluck so Jews would have somewhere to go on erev Christmas. Remember: if you feed them, they will true! We had just over 100 people come for a fantastic Shabbos dinner and then more people joined us for a service in the round. It was warm and freilich and just altogether wonderful.

Though I purposely avoid secular music on Shabbos, I decided to listen to some Christmas music on the way home from shul. Yeah, weird I know! But I unabashedly adore Christmas music. When I was a little girl, KBIG used to play 36 uninterupted hours of Christmas music on Dec. 24-25 and would publish the playlist ahead of time. I used to find the particular songs I liked and would even go so far as to setting my alarm to wake up in the middle of the night! Now that I have kids, I tend to to avoid Christmas music. I know that the time will come when they will certainly hear it, but I just want to wait a little while before inundating them to the sounds of the season. In any event, KMZT was playing "Christmas with Kiri" (that's Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the famed soprano from New Zealand) and I was just enthralled! There is something beautiful about erev Christmas. The air is crisp and so still. Very few cars on the road as I made my way home after services were over, and exquisite music to carry me home.

Yesterday, Beernut and I were on our way to the J for the Shrek-a-Thon (both Shrek films, back-to-back!) and I thought of turning on the radio to listen to some seasonal music. Beernut asked for Rick Recht, and as I popped in his CD, I just smiled...

Friday, December 24, 2004

That's a niggun...

We were sitting in the car this morning, listening to a CD, when Beernut exclaimed, "that's a niggun!"

If the thought of taking my kid to the dentist filled me with SuperMommy accomplishment, let's just say that my cup overfloweth!

I can't really take too much credit, however. The environment certainly is teeming with Judaism. We are all-Judaism, all-the-time in our house. But that is only part of the equation. In Beernut's case, he just emerged into life with a deep connection to God and all that God has to offer. Sometimes his love of Judaism and God is so palpable that I wish I could bottle it and share it with my congregants. And so genuine...

"That's a niggun..." -- the whole world is waiting to sing a song of Shabbos....

Gut Shabbos!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Dental Visit

Yesterday was the big day -- Beernut's first trip to the dentist. It occured to me, about 3/4 through the visit, that a Supermommy would have brought the digital camera to document the event. I, on the other hand, am hoping to remember to bring the camera in 6 mos. and just restage it b/c I forgot the camera. I forgot "Wormie" (the lovie) and I also forgot to take a little something to ease my pain! No, I am not one of those mommies who has a physical reaction to her little one's pain. It is just that I had my cleaning first and felt a bit inhibited screaming my head off in front of the aforementioned child!

My appointment was first and as I mentioned in the last posting, I thought that having Beernut see what occurs during a visit would ease his anxiety. An interesting idea in theory...except he's four years old and was far more interested in using the window seat as a stage for his show. At least that kept him occupied while I was undergoing an only slightly excrutiating cleaning.

Then it was his turn...first, the Xrays. The first tech actually attempted to take a full mouth's worth of pix. That didn't go so well since Beernut just couldn't hold the film in his tiny mouth. Another (and more experienced) tech came in and was able to take just two pix that captured all his teeth. That really calmed him down.

Dr. T then came in to do the exam and cleaning. Beernut actually held up pretty well, though his giggling did make things a bit more difficult. Since the dental chair had gravity on its side, all the sand in B's shoes fell out! (That was a little concerning to Dr. T until I explained that B has a knack for attracting whatever sand happens to be in the sandbox at school.) No problem! Dr. T had showed B how his air blower works and B proceeded to use it to clean up all the sand. Once the dentist was finished ("no active decay"), it was time for the polishing. Well, they were a little backed up and we had to hang around for about 35 which point I thought Beernut was going to explode. Luckily the polishing didn't take very long and he was able to choose the flavour -- bubblegum.

When his teacher inquired about the trip to the dentist, Beernut replied "great!" So all-in-all, a positive experience.

I feel as though I have passed some sort of mommy test. Going to the dentist isn't some major accomplishment and yet taking my son for his exam and cleaning felt so mommy-ish. And I'm never really certain how I measure up in the mommy area.

I grew up with a really traditional mom who did all the mom things. Well, most of them. She didn't do breakfast, but that's because she was still asleep. My parents had the perfect set-up; he was the AM parent and she was the PM parent. You need lunch -- Dad will make it. You need to get to school -- Dad will take you. You need help with homework -- ask Mom. You have a huge project that will keep you working til the wee hours of the night -- definitely ask Mom b/c Dad has this funny way of fading around 10:45pm. Our household is slightly different. Sadly, for our children's sake, we are not morning people. It is going to be a long and grouchy road...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Hodu L'Adonai

So I find myself in the chair and mostly prone, as I succumb to the effects of the novocaine administered by the good-natured dentist, Dr. M. The drilling is what really gets me. Well, that is not completely true. The smells of cut tooth get me too, as well as the sounds of the screeching ultrasound wand meant to cut through the plaque. OK, so all-in-all, I despise visiting the dentist. And as I struggle, through tears mind you, not to vomit all over sweet, good-natured Dr. M, something catches my eye. Above my head, I glimpse a half-dozen faded "smiley face" stickers on the ceiling. Is this someone's idea of a joke? Or could it be a half-hearted attempt at providing joviality for the patient? When I inquire, Dr. M responds that perhaps something else might lend comfort to the anxious patient. "I completely agree," I say. He says, "maybe a massaging headrest?" "Maybe an epidural," I say. He laughes.

Why do people laugh at me? I wasn't joking...not in the slightest bit was this an attempt at humour. I was making a solid suggestion backed by the fact that having had two children I can expertly state that dental work is the worst pain I have ever experience. Of course, since I DID have an epidural with Beernut and Poppyseed...

In any event, in my everlosing battle of being Supermom, I have (finally) scheduled Beernut for an appointment with the dentist. Not Dr. M, who will be out-of-the-country during the holidays, but with another one in the practice. As suggested by every parenting expertise in the entire world, I will submit to a cleaning in front of said child in order to model the importance of a dental visit. Of course, I will be taking something to "take the edge off" in the hopes that I in no way scar the child for life. That runs in the family, BTW. I watched my DM for years as she would take a little something before her make it less excrutiating.

An interesting point. Why is it that we women (yes, guys -- I am excluding you here b/c generally speaking it is women who go to such incredible lengths) are willing to experience pain, humiliation, and so forth in order to make ourselves presentable? Forget beautiful...beautiful is a whole other level. I mean, I sometimes spend hours at the salon undergoing treatments in order to feel more confident, more sassy, less hairy, etc. Shouldn't I be satisfied with all that God has given me?? [Note to God: I am oversatisfied...You might consider cuting back on what You gave me!!]

Friday, November 26, 2004

Through the Valley of the Shadow

There is a blessing for everything. Remember the musical "Fiddler on the Roof"? This topic comes up and in order to prove the point, the Rabbi gives the proper blessing for the Tzar [May God bless and keep the Tzar...far away from us!].

I love that we have blessing for every action, every food, every thing that we encounter in life. Blessing God is how we become aware of the Divine Presence in our lives.

Well, there is a blessing when one enters a cemetary after not having been in one for 30 days. I was reminded of this when I attended the funeral of the father of one of my son's schoolmates. And reminded what an odd existence I lead for I was not eligible to recite that prayer, having been in a cemetary just a week before...and a week before that...and now I have been to the cemetary twice since then. [For the mathematically-challenged, that makes 5 cemetary visits in the month of November alone.]

Death is sad, no matter when or how it comes. Certainly, some circumstances are more tragic or more painful...but loss is loss. Our Tradition teaches that "the eye never has enough of seeing" (Ecc. 1:8). It does not matter how long we is not long enough. At one funeral this month, the widow cried out, "How could You be so cruel??? We didn't have enough time!" -- and her husband had been in his nineties.

This week, I had to explain to a room of 4 year olds why their friend "Yoni" was going to be very, very sad when he returned to school after the Shiva week was completed. As always, I was stunned by the depth of understanding children have. Not of the concept of death itself, for generally speaking, they are not yet able to truly grasp the finality of it. No. I was moved by their compassion and ability to relate to loss. When I asked the class what they might do to help "Yoni" feel better, they offered "make him cookies" and "give him lots of hugs!" One girl responded, "we should remind him. We should talk about his dad with him and remind he isn't aftraid of forgetting him." What previous loss has that young girl experienced? We adults often shy away from mentioning the name of the dead for fear of upsetting the surviving loved ones. In fact, as "Yoni's" classmate knew, mentioning the name is one way to reassure the survivors that the loved one won't be forgotten.

I am sad. Sad that "Yoni" and his sister have to grow up without their dad. Sad that a classroom full of children must confront the realities of life (and its twin) at such a young age. Sad that my son has asked me every day if I will not die until he is finished growing up.

And I am grateful. Grateful it is not my children in that position. That is so selfish, I know. Now that I am a parent, I thank God for each additional day He gives to me...for each day is yet one more I have with my babies. Grateful that I come from a Tradition that teaches us to value each day by seeking God's Eternal Presence through righteous behaviour and acts of lovingkindess.

Psalm 23 reminds us that we must continue through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. May God continue to be the Navigator as I emerge from the sadness of the past week and look forward, God-willing, to a week of peace.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Greetings & Salutations

Apparently it is now possible to be a writer without publishing one's work!!! I keep a diary, but somehow it just seems more REAL if someone else is able to read my often disjointed, but usually entertaining thoughts. And my musings should be somewhat interesting b/c I have an interesting life. I am a rabbi by calling, a mother by blessing, a wife by lucky fate (more on this at a later time), a sister, daughter, friend, etc. So my days and nights are busy and my life is very full! Is it not rather chutzpadic to assume that anyone will be interested?

Do you recognize the title? It is from "Charlotte's Web," written by long-time New Yorker columnist E.B. White, in case you don't have that tidbit at your fingertips. It so happens that he was mostly known for his columns and less for his outstanding Children's Lit -- though as a child, this fact did not impress me. And after years, I have finally discovered (thanks to my dear friend Dr. M) the antonym of 'salutation' is 'valediction.' On that note, I bid you adieu...