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Popsicles, Anyone?

Sari Blum

It was so close to Shabbos; who would be checking their e-mails? Even if they did, why would she want to help me, a relative newcomer, who didn’t know many people on the block?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

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"M y three-year-old just ran into a door. She now has a very swollen lip and bruised gum. Anyone have any kind of frozen popsicle for us so we can try to contain the swelling?”

This was the text of the desperate e-mail I sent to my local Neshei one hour before an early, winter Shabbos. Thankfully, all my last-minute preparations for Shabbos were done, but that didn’t help the fact that the neighborhood stores were all closed, and we had nothing in our freezer to help stop the bleeding and swelling.

The timing of this mini-emergency couldn’t have been worse. I was feeling particularly vulnerable that week since my parents, who’d come from abroad for a short once-a-year visit, had left just a few days earlier. It had been a difficult few months for me, so it was particularly nice to have my parents around, spoiling me with attention, emotional support, even some extras. Their departure left me crying and — even more embarrassingly — begging them like a young child to stay just a bit longer. My parents were surprised at my display of emotion.

“Sari, you’ve never once cried over the last ten years when we leave. What’s going on?” my mother asked me with concern.

“What if I really need you?” I meant that in a general sense, but my parents thought I was referring to my upcoming labor, which they would be missing.

“But you’ve managed to have and raise four kids without us. You’re doing a great job. And don’t worry; if there were a real emergency, we could always hop on a plane and come back.” That answer came from my father, the logical one.

But it wasn’t a real emergency I was worried about. It was all the in-betweens, the times you could really use an extra pair of hands or a favor that you just don’t feel comfortable asking from a neighbor. Or simply those times when you just need a parent’s warmth and support up close, not over a phone line.

I recalled the Thursday evening of their visit, after a fun but exhausting day trip. It was a busy night for me as I tried to manage bedtime with the kids, who were still wound up from the day’s outing, while simultaneously juggling the cooking for Shabbos. When I was finally able to take a break to eat, it was already ten, and I had no strength left to prepare something. I eyed the instant oatmeal in the pantry, but I knew I needed something more nourishing. I called my parents, who had gone out that evening with some friends.


“Mommy, are you and Daddy still out?”

“No, we’re back in the rental apartment already, starting to pack. Why?”

“Never mind. If you were still out, I would have asked you to pick something up for me to eat. But I don’t want you going out if you’re already settled in for the night.”

“Sorry, sweetie. We should have called you on our way back to check if you needed anything.” Not five minutes passed before the phone rang.

“Sari, we’re in the bakery. They have hot soup, blintzes, kugel. What should we get? Should I tell him to give us one of everything?” My mother didn’t even wait for my response, and I could hear her telling the guy behind the counter that she needed large portions for her hungry daughter. I probably should have felt embarrassed, but I was enjoying the attention too much to care. “Mommy, maybe get something for Chaim too. He hasn’t had a real dinner either.” My poor husband had eaten cereal for dinner that night, again.

“Make that two of everything,” I could hear her telling the proprietor.

How loved and pampered I felt that evening! Who, if not my parents, would spoil me like that every once in a while?

Now, here I was, a week later, on Erev Shabbos, with my screaming and suffering three-year-old. My husband had tried the one makolet that stayed open late on Fridays, but since it was winter, they had no frozen popsicles in stock. As I was trying to figure out what to do, the phone rang, and instinctively, I picked it up.

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