Thursday, September 16, 2010

May He Continue to Grow



We had a great time at Eliav's birthday party yesterday in his Gan (nursery school). At the same time, neither Josh nor I seems to be able to get away from the memories that this particular class brings to us. Eliav is in the same classroom this year that Yehuda was in when he was four. And Yehuda shared his fourth birthday party, in the same exact space, with Chanan. It was Chanan's last birthday, and the last picture that we have of him is of the two of them at their birthday party.

The memories are very powerful when we enter the same room, with the same birthday costumes, the same birthday songs and the same birthday atmosphere. It's a bit overwhelming.

We've already had Amichai's fourth birthday in the space, and I would have thought that we'd have moved beyond the memories by now. But, seeing Eliav sitting at the table where Yehuda and Chanan took their birthday picture certainly brought it all back.

What really struck me was the bracha (blessing) that one little girl gave to Eliav. During the birthday party, the teacher has the kids give the birthday boys brachot. It's a lovely idea and one that I find very powerful. So, this little girl's bracha to Eliav was that "he should continue to grow." What a strange bracha, I thought to myself. She didn't wish for him to continue to grow big and strong, or to continue to grow in ways of Torah learning, or to continue to grow into a great person. She simply wished for him to continue to grow. Period. End of bracha.

Indeed.

With Yom Kippur, the day of judgment, approaching in two days, and thoughts of Chanan in my head, her bracha gave me chills. Sometimes, it's the most simple brachot - the most straightforward of wishes - that truly have the most power.

He should continue to grow.

May Hashem grant this wish for Eliav and for all of us this coming year so that we may continue to grow, to live, to thrive and to do our best with what we've been given.

He should continue to grow.

Amen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's the Small Victories that Really Matter


We all get set in our ways at times, and my kids' nursery school teachers are no exception. At the beginning of the year, they won't hear of having a birthday party before the class has settled in. Eliav was born two days after Rosh Hashanah, which means that his birthday is right at the beginning of the school year. Last year, the teacher refused - and I mean refused - to even consider having a party for him until after Sukkot. The kids don't know each other...they don't know all of the dances...they don't know how to sit nicely...they don't know the songs....and on and on and on. She just wouldn't hear of it. And so, by the time that Sukkot had ended, I simply gave up. It wasn't Eliav's birthday anymore and he would have been confused about why he was suddenly having a party. End of story.

Come this fall and we are at it again. Since Rosh Hashanah fell so early this year, Eliav's birthday was this past Sunday, at the beginning of the second week of school. So, the kids have only been in school for a week, or even a bit less, and I knew I was in for a battle. It was, however, a battle that I was willing to undertake.

I find myself being willing to get more and more pushy the longer that I live here - and even to argue in Hebrew (yes, I impress myself!) Over Rosh Hashanah, I spoke with two other moms, both of whom said, "Oh, Romi, there is just no way that they will agree to have a party this week. Just wait until after Sukkot. It's no big deal."

So, armed with this knowledge, I took Eliav to school on Sunday and prepared for the fight. Of course, his teacher's day off is on Sundays, so I wasn't able to do anything. Grumbling in my car, annoyed that I was late to work without even accomplishing my goal, I noticed someone zipping into the parking lot. Behold - it was his teacher! I zoomed over and cornered her before she could leave. I explained the situation to her and the conversation went something like this:

Yael: Oh, no, we couldn't have the party yet. It's much too early. We can do it after Sukkot.
Me: Yeah, about that. Let's see. No. Eliav's birthday is today, he knows his birthday is today and he wants a party for his birthday - not a party for a month from now.
Yael: But the kids don't know each other yet and they don't know the routine.
Me: Right, so which day are we doing it?
Yael: And they are still confused about the songs we sing and they don't know the birthday routine and...
Me: Right, so which day is it again?
Yael: And.....what?
Me: I said which day this week is good for you. Don't care if they know the routine. Don't care if they sit well. Throw on some music, have Eliav dance and we'll blow out the candles.
Yael: But, but...really?
Me: Yep, really. He's having his party this week, so which day was that?
Yael: Well, um...I guess I can use some of the routines we did last year.
Me: Sounds great. Which day?
Yael: And, um, well, I guess, if they don't know everything it might still be ok...
Me: Yep, sounds great. Wednesday?
Yael: (Looking side swiped) What? Wednesday? Um, ok. But you'll have to find someone else to pair up with.
Me: Ok - already done. That will be Suriel, whose mother told me I'd never get this party before Sukkot. Sounds great.
Yael: Um, ok, how about 11:00.
Me: Nope - too late. Gotta get to work. How about 9.

And that was that! I left there feeling like the queen of the world! I had conquered the nursery school teacher and lived to tell about it! So, tomorrow we look forward to Eliav's birthday party in Gan. A celebration of four wonderful years for him - and a celebration of becoming a pushy advocate for my kids for me (even if the topic is only about birthday parties!).