Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Balance - Part II

Hi Alex,

Thanks for getting past your tantrum.about going to Florida instead of Jamaica this year (that was a sarcastic 'thank you', in case that was not utterly clear).  In any case, I wanted to write a bit more about your continued evolution of understanding privilege and wealth.

We visited with friends that have a house in the Hamptons this past weekend.  From the moment we entered their house you began to speak about how you would really like to live in a house like this.  There were many instances throughout the weekend in which you made it clear that you were pleased with your surroundings.  The crown jewel of comments however, came when you and I went for a walk on Sunday afternoon.  Our hosts had told us which way to walk so that we could see the house that Beyonce and Jay-z own.  Standing in front of their estate, you counted seven chimneys, which meant seven fireplaces and you said, "This house is so huge it looks like a small factory with all those chimneys!" and then a bit further down the road, in a bit more contemplative manner, "I really would like to live out here and live like this.  I think this kind of wealth is really good."

I am not sure what to tell you Alex.  I think that kind of wealth can be good, but only if you are surrounded by family and friends who love you, and that everyone is healthy and that more than the money you have, that you have other things in life that make you happy.

I know you are bright and talented and that will hard work, you will achieve everything you want in life.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

The makings of a great story

"Avery?  Why did you make a bear who is frowning?  Is he sad?"

"Of course he is sad, Mommy!  He went home and he couldn't find his honey anywhere.  Wouldn't you be sad too?"

Being wondrous never grows old

Dear Avery,

You are having a lot of fun at summer camp this year.  And while we may be a generation or two later with DVDs and itouches and video streaming and constant social media, I am so very happy to report that summer camp and all that goes along with it are still very much the same.  Here are some quick photos (that I  took with my phone - so okay, some things may have changed!) on the walk to and from camp last week.

Continue to enjoy your childhood!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Goal Oriented

Hey kids,

It's August.  Another month until school starts and I'm not rushing the end of summer, but all the sudden I can feel it creeping up on us.

I have been wondering if you ever think about how I am performing at my job of mommy.  Do you think I am perfect?  I am not.  There is no one ideal for this job description.  I do however, imagine that each and every mom can close her eyes and can describe her ideal in minute detail.

My paragon of perfection is not unlike a well-rounded liberal arts education with a strong core.  I think about  music, visual arts, sports, literature, pop culture, social interactions, healthy eating, well-rested, clean rooms, clean bodies, indoor play, outdoor play.  One must be at least minimally proficient in all of these areas, if he or she hopes to lead a successful life.  Believe it or not, that is why I try to 'under' schedule you.  I believe that when left to your own devices that you will be most creative and engaged.

I wont apologize for pushing these ideals on you.  I will however be empathetic.  It must be tough to have a mom who wants you to be pretty good at so many things.  Know that in setting these goals, I hope you will both become well-rounded and uncover your passion in life, whatever that might be.  This is childhood as it should be!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Emerging Theme

Hi Avery,

I just had to write about this little tale. It is emblematic of one of the themes of this blog - finding humor in tragedy. Perhaps, that is how I should tag the posts that are now categorized as "therapy".

Tragedy is a strong word, sometimes sadness or melancholy will do, but in this case I think it's appropriate. You see, there has been another unexpected death. Our friend, Andy has lost his dad, Paul. And so, the community has gotten together to mourn. That's when people either deal with their own grief and sadness or help friends and family to do so. When you're Jewish, this process is called shiva. If someone in your family died, you are "sitting shiva" and when you are helping someone mourn you "pay a shiva call".

So when Andy's dad died, we were paying a shiva call.  I'll get into the rituals in a bit, but to begin with I just want to describe the wild scene at Katie and Andy's house.  It was one giant playdate of kids and parents and families and there must have been at least a hundred people in the home.  There was definitely a mood of life and energy with all the kids running around and acting as kids do.  It was most definitely not somber in that home.  So much so that when you emerged from the throng of kids and found me for a moment, you said to me, "Mommy, this is such a GREAT party.  We should have a party like this for Grandpa Lou!"  Grandpa Lou is my grandfather and Alex is named after him and I believe that this might be the only other person you know that is not alive.  So it would make sense to you that if you wanted to have such a great party, you would need someone dead to celebrate too.  Simple, right?

One of the shiva rituals is to have the rabbi come to your home every evening when there is a minyan (ten or more Jewish adults present) so that the grieving family can say a prayer called Kaddish which is a prayer to honor and remember the dead.  This is not to be confused with Kiddush which is the prayer we say before we drink wine or grape juice.  So anyway, at the "GREAT party for Bernie's Grandpa", the rabbi came and there was a bit more order for a few moments anyway as the adults quieted down and faced East and read from prayer books.  During this ritual moment of silence, I felt a tap on my shoulder and was directed to look toward the bathroom off of the Wedeens' kitchen.

There you were sitting on the toilet, grunting, pooping with the door wide open, during an extremely serious and sad moment.  I made my way over to shut the door and you exclaimed loudly, "Mom!  A little privacy, please!"  The adult giggled and I tried to be serious.  About 30 seconds later came the call that all mommies of young children are used to hearing, but not normally during a quiet prayer service, "Mom!  Will you wipe me!"  A few more giggles erupted as I made my way back to the bathroom.

It is interesting how this mundane (and slightly gross) moment could add levity to an otherwise very serious and very sad moment.  At a deeper level, I am reminded of the continuity of life.  Even in death, the next generation must choose to live and thrive.

Okay.  That's enough waxing philosophical for now.

Thank you for adding exuberance to this life.



Hi Alex,

This post is all for you.  I want you to know that you are growing up privileged (we hate the word 'spoiled'!) and that it is a struggle for us everyday to make sure that you are thankful for the amazing childhood that you have.

Today you burst into tears.  Why?  Because you had no food in your belly?  No roof over your head?  No mother and father and sister and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins to love you?  Nope.  None of those.  It was because we mentioned to you that you would be sharing a room with Avery in the summer house that we rented.  You have had a summer house every single summer since you were born, so I should not have to explain what that is, right?  Oh and that instead of going to Jamaica for your November school break this year that we would be going to Florida to visit Grandma and Pop in their new house.  With a pool. Right outside your bedroom door.

You poor dear.  How can you ever survive such treatment and injustices?

Or in other words, when you give tzedakah, not only should you want to help others, but you should always be cognizant of all that you have.  You are one VERY lucky little boy.  And I want you to behave as such.