Sunday, October 24, 2010

Raising Little Individuals

Someone said to me recently, "I can't believe you are having your sixth kid!" And it made me stop to think for a minute as well. Wow - that's a lot of children. It's a lot of seats at the dinner table (or at a restaurant). It's a lot of laundry to do each day, a lot of menu planning and a lot of beds to make. However, I rarely think of it as such.

First of all, I'm surrounded, in my community by people with very large families. Most of our friends have between 4 and 7 children, with a few who have 8 or 9.

Even more importantly, however, I see myself as Matan's mom. I'm Yehuda's mom. I'm Amichai's mom. I'm Eliav's mom. And I'm Azriel's mom. I don't see the collective count here - but I see each boy as the individual that he is and each relationship as standing on its own.

I am absolutely loving, lately, watching each of the boy's personalities develop. Matan, 10, has a fantastic sense of timing and a great sense of humor. Last week, he lost a tooth right as he was leaving for school. He put it under his pillow, but I managed to completely forget the incident all-together.

Two or three nights later, after he had already gone to bed, he came back up the stairs. With a sheepish grin he declared, "You know, the tooth fairy hasn't exactly done her job yet." Josh and I both burst out laughing. He had definitely called us on that one - and done it in such a cute way.

I gently apologized for the tooth fairy and reminded him that the tooth fairy might very well be a tired mommy who was 9 months pregnant.

Giggling, he returned to bed...and was happy the next morning to find that the guilt-ridden tooth fairy had left money - with interest.

Zeli, our two year old, is the kissiest kid I've ever seen in my life. I will sometimes hear something near my ear and, not realizing what it is, turn to find him kissing the air and trying to get to my head. He loves offering kisses and hugs to me, to Josh and to his brothers and he has the most gentle, tender little disposition (well, when he's not throwing himself at someone or tackling them to the ground) that we've seen.

I could go on and on. But, the point is that I see my job, as the mother hen of this collective, and often quite raucous, brood, to be that of an artist. My job is to watch each of these boys grow into his own spirit and to help him to develop into his own personality.

While the boys are very competitive, we try all the time to explain to them that each one of them is special and unique and that he doesn't have to be like his brothers.

Quite a monumental task we have before us. And one that I'm thrilled to be given the privilege of undertaking with baby steps each day. I can only wonder who this sixth personality is, waiting to arrive and to make our family complete sometime very soon!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Parsha in Action

Each year, the third grade kids at Matan and Yehuda's school are tasked with creating their own Tevat Noach, or Noah's Arks. They bring them to school and have a competition to see who has made the most authentic, creative version of the Ark.

When I first saw the notice for this event, I took a DEEP breath. Matan is very artistic, but also insanely driven when it comes to tasks of this sort. Two years ago he spent multiple tens of hours putting together his ark made of popsicle sticks. Two glue guns, many burns, and hours later, the ark was complete. It was quite a process.

So, when Yehuda came home a few weeks ago with his excitement, it was hard for Josh and me to show ours. Oh dear, I we go again. And - on top of the pressure to come up with a creative idea, he had to top Matan's idea. What ever were we to do?

And then, Yehuda had a brilliant idea. Could we, he wanted to know, buy a huge loaf of bread and make an ark out of it? It was was simple...and it was doable overnight!

We have a professional baker in the Yishuv, and I commissioned a huge loaf of bread from him. It was far more beautiful than what I needed, and I almost felt badly that we were going to use it for an art project and not for a festive event.

Oh well...Noah was calling.

After less than one hour of work, Josh and Yehuda had finished the ark. It arrived safely at school the next day - and...Yehuda ended up winning second place in the competition!

Josh and I are now dreaming about future projects, and trying to figure out how to make sure that all of them can be made from bread. Just think of chanukiahs made of bread....dreidles from bread....Pesach seder plates from bread....hmmm...I get carried away here, but you get the point : ).

Sometimes the best things in life come from quite simple ideas thought up by an 8 year old boy. Amen to that.