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Posts Tagged ‘raising children’

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968

Each of us has a threshold of what we consider to be acceptable.  In some ways I am so accepting and mellow and then a moment occurs when I have to question whether my voice should have remained silent.  Have you ever spoken when you should have remained silent? Have you ever spoken from your heart and soul and had it trampled on by the person you were hoping would hear your voice.  Rarely have I ever wondered if my voice was worthy of the words being spoken, but last Sunday left me questioning my thoughts, my voice, and my actions.

Over 60 years ago, Hitler orchestrated the killing of millions of people; Jews suffered, as did the entire human race.  Last Sunday, my husband Michael and I finally felt that my boys were ready to go to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  My children are both teenagers, wise and thoughtful in every way that counts.  They were ready to face the atrocities of the Nazis and all who supported them through both their actions and inactions.

As we entered the museum, we were amazed at how many people felt compelled to be there.  Although seeing at least five families with toddlers or young children perplexed us.  As both a parent and an educator, I was a little speechless at seeing such young children at the USHMM.  How could anyone bring a toddler to witness the heinous acts of the Nazis? How could people subject their young children to the dark energy that surrounds this particular memorial? I don’t understand and it made my entire family uncomfortable.  Of course this is coming from the person that waited until both of my children were teenagers to go to the Holocaust Museum with them.

One of the families, allowed their child to run around the museum like it was a playground.  I found myself voicing my thoughts aloud to my own family on more than one occasion.  My own kids were fairly incredulous at the toddler.  All of us were wise enough to realize that the toddler was being a child.  Children are supposed to treat the entire world as a playground.  But as adults, it is our job to allow our children to explore suitable playgrounds that surround their world.

At one particular moment, I watched the child pointing to a photo of people on the second floor of the museum.  The child was selecting which people were boys and which people were girls.  Each and every one of the people were emaciated and difficult to view because of their condition.  At that point, Michael decided to go and speak to the parents of this toddler in a reflective way.   Both of the parents became loud and abusive in how they responded.  My husband felt physically threatened although no punches were thrown.

After the couple was done yelling at Michael, they came looking for THAT MAN’S WIFE.  It was quite an interesting altercation.  The toddler’s mom asked if I was that man’s wife and I quietly responded that I was.   She then asked me if I agreed with my husband.  I warmly responded that in fact I absolutely agreed with his wisdom.  The words spoken by her were less than appropriate to repeat, but you can imagine the scene.

Upon reflection, I realize many things. Perhaps I should have

  • spoken sooner and not under my breath like I originally did.
  • asked that someone from the professional staff of the museum to talk to the couple.
  • stood near my husband instead of giving him the space to be thoughtful in how he maneuvered the situation.
  • kept my mouth quiet.

There are so many ways I could have responded.  I can see each side with clarity and all sides have wisdom.  I do not believe in being silent when I see something disturbing.  I believe that “it takes a village” to raise children.  Much of the time, I appreciate others sharing their wisdom even when they are questioning my parenting -though, not always ☺.  When it comes to children I feel strongly about what constitutes good parenting.  I also know that my opinions are my opinions and while I have the right to my thoughts, others have the right to their thoughts too.  For the most part, people have the right to raise their children how they feel is best.  Physical abuse is never OK, but so many other behaviors are fine even if I don’t agree with how some parents choose to raise their kids.

Tomorrow I will call the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum so that I can ask some policy questions.  I will try to figure out if I can make a difference in the future.  We were blessed to have one staff member approach my husband at some point and offer assistance.  The question remains, how can the policy be changed and do I have a right to even move forward with trying to make a change?   As someone who saw violence as a young child, I feel compelled to voice my concerns and perhaps do what I can to make a difference for the future.

Should I have kept my mouth shut? I don’t think so. . . .  Instinctively, I feel like we Michael and I were wise, but perhaps not so much. . . . . .
PS- My children, Aryeh and Dovi, were amazing throughout this experience and the conversations that followed showed their wisdom and their thoughtfulness.  Growing up, no matter how old we are, can always be filled with questions and perhaps some insightful moments too.

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“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” ~Stacia Tauscher

With Passover fast approaching, I’ve been considering what our ancestors might have been thinking or feeling as they were living as slaves in Egypt and then as they were traveling in the desert for forty years.  My guess is that they were stressed about how they would make it through the day; the future was a dream that might or might not have felt attainable.

The closest I can come to relating to the Hebrews as they were called back then is when I reflect back to when my older son Aryeh was struggling for life.  I have this distinct memory of someone asking me how we were dealing with the realities of High School for Aryeh.  As Aryeh sat recovering from brain surgery, I didn’t once consider his High School experience.  My one and only goal was I was to help him survive each day. (Note: This Fall, Aryeh was able to return to school after 2.5 years at home and he is doing well too!)

Today, as we move through our daily lives, we often save for the future, plan for the future, and work towards the future.  I think we often forget to live for today.  Instead of remembering to live for today by taking care of our loved ones and ourselves for this moment, we push ourselves to exhaustion so we can have what we need for tomorrow.

Our children are the center of our lives; they are our future.  Whether or not, we are parents, the village that surrounds the children should mentor them as they grow into the future.   I want to take a lesson from our own Passover story.  Let’s prepare for now, let’s make some matzah and make certain we have some food.  It only takes 18 minutes to make matzah and then we can have our scrumptious meal.

Appreciating the moments we have with the people in our lives is really what makes a difference.  The more moments we take advantage of, the better we will be in the short run.  And guess what, if we take care of ourselves fully today, tomorrow will go much more smoothly.

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Laughter is vibrating throughout our entire house; the energy is spreading a pure sense of joy throughout each of us.

As I am sitting here writing, I have seven boys hanging out on our main level, some are eating breakfast, two are playing with one of our three dogs, another one is snuggling another dog, and the puppy Is locked up in his kennel because if he was out of the kennel Pita, as we call him, would be eating a portion of everyone’s breakfast.  Sigh.

Dovi is reverberating with happiness; he is surrounded by what I call the ‘pack animals’, his friends.  They are pure joy and sweetness!  I am so profoundly grateful for these boys that Dovi calls friends and for Fairhaven School, the democratic school, which many of them attend together.

For Dovi, I am feeling exhilaration; he has wanted to have his friends over for so long, for two years in fact.  Aryeh’s health wouldn’t allow it.  Even though we are still having a roller coaster ride towards health with our older son, we are absolutely moving in the right direction.

Last week, Aryeh told us it was time to schedule Dovi’s sleepover party for his 12th birthday.  Three months late and lots of good excuses later, we called all the parents with five days notice and viola it happened.  We had nine boys hanging out last night with seven of the boys sleeping over!

Aryeh has felt his own sense of loss that Dovi’s life has been altered due to his illness.  At 15 years old, he feels responsible for the evolving family dynamics, for the quietness we have all endured due to his pain.   I can’t change the way Aryeh feels, but I am so proud of him for enduring the pain as he does and also for his thoughtfulness when it comes to looking for ways to again fill our lives with the kinetic energy that we all love.

Our home was once filled with music, dance, and all sorts of drumming rhythms, but today is a little less energetically kinetic.  Aryeh probably remembers our Friday evening drumming before our Shabbat dinner; Drumming and singing nigunnim (tunes) was part of our Kabbalat Shabbat, Welcoming the Shabbat.

While our world has quieted a bit, we are slowly learning not to cringe with each extra sound.  Our dogs haven’t really quieted too much.  In fact, as Dixie has gotten older, she has the bark of a paranoid being.  In some ways that is probably a gift; we haven’t been allowed to get too used to silence.  The dogs won’t allow it.

Even though the ‘pack animals’ have gone home, there is a strong sense of peace and gratitude filling my soul.  For all the parents that trusted their children to hang out with us on a Saturday night, thank you!!! Sharing your children has added so much life back into our home!!!

We have moved one step closer towards health this weekend! Yippee!!!!

With blessings and light!

Chava

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