Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Rarity of Terror: A Mother's Perspective

When bad things happen to us (terrorists strike, illness, death and tragedy), moms and dads have to weigh what and how much to tell their children. Our children will react according to their own levels of undertanding and their developmental ages. 
When my kids were younger, they were none the wiser. I did not tell my children anything. As they have grown, however, I now take care to be the first to tell my children about current events that apply to them, especially when it's big enough that they will hear about it in school. This morning I found myself telling the kids about the terror attack in the Synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem.
One rule of thumb that I have learned from various sources (organizations, psychologists, parents) is to explain to children that what occurred is "RARE." It is uncommon and unliekly to happen to them. Children who are approximately 6 and older can comprehend the concept of COMMON vs. RARE. Teach your kids they are safe because this is RARE and far from home.
I struggle with weighing the rarity of these terror attacks. 
9/11: See that building just over the river? Terrorits flew into that very site. Why? I cannot explain evil. Yes, it was in New York City where your father and grandparents work. No, it is RARE and won't happen again.
Boston bombing: At a Marathon finish line. Not Daddy's New York City Marathon, which Jeremy ran several times, but a different Marathon in Boston.
Palestinians driving onto train platforms and waiting areas: Cars, children, a baby flung from her stroller!
Har Nof Terror Attack: Men praying peacefully on a regular morning at a local synagogue. Synagogue - not ours, a different one in Israel. Someone else's daddy. Many children remain bereft. Only a block from where Mommy lived for a year when she was your age (second grade).
How RARE are these occurances? 
There are so many more examples but I prefer not to think about them, about how close to home they hit. Guns, axes, construction vehicles, babies, daddies, friends.
How can we claim that terror is RARE?
May G-d bring us comfort and peace so that we no longer have to explain the atrocities of this world to our young children.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Missing One

Where have you gone?
Why so soon?
I barely got to enjoy your presence.
Your softness. Your comfort and support.
Why did you disappear, leaving me so desperate?
I've searched for you, high and low.
To no avail.
You cannot be replaced. You have left me incomplete, desolate.
My drawer pines for you, the match.
One lone sock.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Camp Lavitt

This summer, we have 2 full weeks between camp and school. My 4 children are home with me while I attempt to work. We are going to go away the second week, but the first week is a real challenge because I have work to do. So I invented a strict but flexible schedule of activities to keep the children busy each day.
Each activity lasts for one hour and all the children must participate. If there is any fighting, the culprits will sit out for the remainder of that activity, Lunch and swim are a major part of the day!
We might have spent more money buying the toys, games, crafts and equipment for Camp Lavitt than it would have cost to send them to an after camp program!
I appreciate that the kids understand that they can entertain themselves at home, together (with supervision of course!) and without fighting.
We have activities that each of the children enjoy. When I say the schedule is flexible, I mean that if the kids are enjoying one activity, they can continue into the next hour, or if they choose to switch one day's plan with another, no problem, as long as they all agree.

Here is the sample schedule for Camp Lavitt:

On Friday, during baking, we were very productive! I of course supervised each child's recipe and Tzvi (5yo) and I worked together. In just one hour, we made 24 carrot muffins, 18 zucchini muffins from our home-grown zucchini, 2 pans of blonde brownies and 4 children's challah rolls. They were such a help with my Shabbos preparations!

Here are our baking results!

Looking forward to the rest of the week! I hope it goes smoothly!

TELL ME: What have you done to keep children entertained over the summer?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Night Camp... Say What?


ME: Hello?

HER: Hi, my name is [who knows?] and I am making a night camp for girls going into 4th and 5th grades.

ME: A Night camp?

HER: Yes, night camp. From 6:30-8 pm.

ME: No thank you, we have bedtime.

Am I crazy? Night camp so my child can be out later than her bedtime or perhaps get home right before she is expected to go to sleep? We have bedtime and we wind down before it. A child who is in a full summer camp program is exhausted at the end of the day. I cannot imagine sending Arielle to night camp so she will be even more exhausted.

On top of that, at 6:30 I am home alone with 4 kids. Even if I wanted to send my eldest to night camp, the younger 3 have to take baths, get in to pajamas, brush teeth and get songs and stories for their 7 pm bedtimes. How could I even consider dropping everything to drive Arielle to night camp?

You may say this program is good for some parents. Maybe they don't have bedtimes, younger siblings, spouses that work late, dinner to prepare (did I mention that I have to cook dinner?)... I just don't know who the market is for this particular program.

NEVER MIND how upset I am about the fact that the school must be distributing class lists because I get calls throughout the year about this camp and that camp for kids just my child's age... HOW DO THEY KNOW?

I will tell you that I have benefited from these camps in the past such as on Jewish fast days and between camp and school, etc. I still resent the fact that the school is giving out proprietary information to local teenagers.

So, I will not be sending any children to night camp. But thanks for calling!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Testing: Stay at Home Mom

The last time I wrote here I was gainfully employed and relishing in what I considered to be a very successful 2013. A lot has transpired since then. On Dec 31, I lost my job and was thrown into the world of SAHMs aka stay-at-home-moms.

I have never been a stay-at-home-mom before. I was excited to test it out: to stay home with my 2 year old daughter Siri, to be home when the older kids got home from school, to be calm for homework, dinner and bedtime and to finally tackle all those pesky home organizing projects!

Here are a few key lessons I learned during this time:

1. Loading and unloading a toddler into the car makes every trip take double the time. DUH! I still enjoyed getting out and bringing Siri with me but of course my errands took longer (including carpool).

2. Laundry is never finished and can consume your life. Especially when there are 6 of you! I still have baskets to put away.

3. Homework and bedtime is never stress-free even if you were home all day long!

4. SAHMs are busy, which of course I knew already. There is never a dull moment and the only time you have to accomplish anything is during baby's nap time. But you want to nap too!

5. The home organizing projects are endless and you cannot even tackle many of them because you can only work during baby's naptime (see #4 above) and laundry is never finished (see #2 above).

6. I now fully understand the feeling of upending routine and the uneasiness that comes along with it. Children are affected by this and express anxiety in various ways. Adults are affected too, but it is perhaps more subtle. We all had to adjust to a new situation and new routines.

7. Dinner can be ready on time if I am home!

8. Doctors' appointments and quick errands are SO much easier when I can go during the day. It is much easier to have a flexible schedule during the week. It also makes the weekends calmer.

I am grateful for the opportunity to spend more time with my children and to be able to appreciate my time at home. It has really been a blessing and I look forward to working on a brand new endeavor (coming soon!) that will allow me to continue to be available for my children and my home.
Come again!