Thursday, December 22, 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Lately David has been exhibiting somewhat more interest in reading. He even gets excited about going to the library. He returns home with stacks of books, although I'm not always thrilled with his selection. I think some of them are way too easy. Some are reference-type items that he skips around. Others are comic books. But his teacher recommended that at home we foster our kids' interest in reading by letting them choose whatever they wish to read (whether for pleasure or for daily reading homework); we should let her be the "bad one" who forces the kids to read what they might not otherwise choose.

I have to say that I'm a bit shocked at what passes for children's' reading these days. Themes I don't like. Inappropriate language. Foul humor. Etc.

For a while David has been asking us to get him the popular Diary of a Wimpy Child. At one point I did pick up a copy at Costco. But when we looked at it at home we thought it was inappropriate and returned it. I couldn't believe his friends' parents let them read it. I guess times change? Well we finally broke down and let him buy it on the most recent book order.

He can't put it down. Getting ready in the morning takes even longer than usual because he tries to sneak in a few pages. And putting him to sleep at night is even more tortuous than usual because he wants to read more of it. I've spoken in the past with classmates' parents who complained their kids won't go to sleep at night because they stay up reading under the covers. "How horrible," I would sarcastically comment. Thank God my kid doesn't do that, I would add with a ting of jealousy.

Last night we let him stay up later than usual because of Chanukkah. As usual it was a bad decision. The nightly rituals didn't go so smoothly, words were exchanged and fists flew (just kidding). We sent him up to bed but when I went up to check on him I saw him reading in bed. I didn't have the ko'ach to argue anymore and gave up. When Kinneret checked on him a little later she found that he had literally fallen asleep in his book. Maybe he is turning into an ohev sefer after all? How can I get angry at him for reading in bed after bedtime?

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On the subject of "how can I get angry . . . ?"

David broke the pencil sharpener by sticking trying to sharpen the eraser end. We told him not to do that again, but just to be safe, I replaced it with one that has a stronger motor. Then Kinneret caught him sticking in all sorts of items, e.g., chop sticks. She was furious, but I couldn't stop laughing. I really did think it was funny. I also think that a measure of mischief fueled by curiosity, the desire to try something new or different, and independent decision making is healthy in a child.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Modern Orthodox Inconsistincies?

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In my estimation the core elements of American Modern Orthodoxy include (but are not limited to) Zionism (idealized as aliyah), American patriotism and integration within civil society. Lately I have been wondering how we can subscribe to the first at the same time as the latter two. We talk about living in Israel as the ultimate actualization of halakhic, nationalistic, communal and social ideals, all the while being disdainful of the particularism, insularity and ghetto mentality that are hallmarks of the right wing. But doesn't the aspiration of MOs to live and interact with Jews only in a Jewish state represent particularism, insularity and ghetto mentality par excellence?

Maybe to a certain extent we are on the same page after all with regards to how we conceive of ourselves vis-a-vis the non-Jewish world? Is MO patriotism and commitment to civil society in fact just a bedi'eved to accomodate the reality of us living in America?

The Sermon

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Sometimes we have to fight with David to pay attention. And other times he pays attention when we least expect it.

Kinneret told David that if he does X then he will get Y. He responded, "but the rabbi said never to promise to do something only because you want something in return."

At first we had no idea what he was talking about. Then I realized that he was actually repeating the message of a sermon that a guest rabbi had delivered that morning in shul. (It had to do with the take-away message of Yaakov's promise to Hashem at the beginning of va-Yetze.)

I wasn't even paying attention to the rabbi, and yet davka now he was?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pacifier Stunts

Ora can't go anywhere without her pacifier. Sometimes she carries an extra one for backup and sometimes she even uses two at the same time. David didn't really use pacifiers. We didn't really let him and I don't recall him expressing interest. This time around I'm willing to surrender this battle.

Ora has become very adept with the pacifier. When it falls to the floor she just bends over and picks up in her mouth without hands. She also spits it out and then just as it as about to fall down she sucks it back in.

The best was Saturday night. We were sitting in Toby's apartment. The pacifier fell out of her mouth and Ora put it back in upside down. With just one motion and without using hands she spun it around in her mouth that it would be right side up. It was so funny. We kept on taking it out and putting it back in upside down. She started getting it annoyed but for us it was real entertainment. I wish I could post a video but I can't obscure her face.

(A few months she was very into "yoga." She would bridge herself with her head on the floor and the pick up her hands.)