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Windows: Full Snack, Full Mother

C. Spira

What do you know? Every woman above the age of 40 sided with my father. They were completely unimpressed with my chinuch

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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I f you see a kid wearing a white Shabbos shirt on a regular weekday, it’s not my child. Ditto if you see a kid in long pants in the sweltering heat.

How would you know that? Simple: I’m under the age of 40 (and I don’t have boys).

The kid you’re seeing is likely my baby brother. Or another mezhinik out there who decided that it’s time to take ownership of his dressing habits.

The other day, I visited my parents after 9 p.m. My six-year-old brother was munching on popcorn and drumming on the table while schmoozing with my father. Apparently, his bedtime is three hours later than mine was at that age. “What do you say to his ear for music? It’s a pity to put him to sleep. You gotta listen to him, he’s adorable!”

Um… okay. I get the logic. I guess.

My father of a jam-packed schedule. My mother of serious bedtime routines and teeth-brushing charts and a rigid rule against drumming on tables. Oh, well. Who am I to judge 50-year-old parents?

But I would never stoop so low. A case in point: Friday night I was getting my daughter into pajamas. I managed to take off her tights and then the tantrum started.

“I want to wear my tights!!! I WANT TO SLEEP WITH MY TIGHTS!! I WAAAANNNNT TOOOO SLEEP WITH MY TIGHTS!”

For 20 minutes. Straight. And it was after 10 p.m. But I, good mother that I am, did not lose my cool. Did not yell. Or potch. Or reason with her. (She was only semiconscious, anyway. And yes, I know, I’m worthy of taking kvittlach for my patience.)

Even though I suspected my neighbors were labeling me abusive, I knew I was doing the right thing. A kid needs to learn. Sleeping with tights is bad for the circulation and it can cause a rash. And your feet can rot. I could hear my mother’s voice in that last one.

Let’s not forget that the same kid had the same tantrum just a few hours before about the same pair of tights. Only then, she didn’t want to put them on. She wanted thick cotton gray winter tights. To go with a mauve summer robe, no less.

So this was daily fare. And yes, I know she’ll outgrow it. And yes, I know that these kids grow up to be the builders of Klal Yisrael, and those that break when they’re young build when they grow up.

But until then, I’m left with a lot of broken things. Like patience and aplomb and confidence in my mothering skills.

Problem is, I live next to my grandparents. There’s only a thin door separating my apartment from theirs. Hearing the noise, my father, who had come to wish them good Shabbos, ran into my apartment and picked up the poor, crying kid. I filled him in, waiting for good old sympathy from one who’s been there, done that. From the man who raised me and taught me not to sleep with tights. Okay, that was my mother’s job. But he backed her, I’m sure.

“Big deal. Let her sleep with tights. Nebach, she’s crying.” He gave her a candy and kissed her.

He was serious.

I checked his beard and his eyes and his glasses. It was definitely him.

Ruchy’s out-of-body tantrum stopped instantly. Zeidy was on her side. I’ll spare you the rest of the details. Bottom line, she did not sleep with tights.

Shabbos afternoon at the rowdy weekly Shalosh Seudos at Grandma’s, she brought up this story. “Why was Ruchy crying like that yesterday?”

I told her. I told her how special I am that I didn’t lose it. And then I told her my father’s reaction. What do you know? Every woman above the age of 40 sided with my father. They were completely unimpressed with my chinuch. “What do you care if she sleeps with tights? How can you cope with the crying?”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 584)

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