This morning, after having spent a Shabbos at home (finally!). the kids are getting back in the groove. I sent everyone to shower this morning and the boys got dressed before breakfast, which produce unexpected results: when my husband got up to go to shul and asked boys whether they would like to come with him, both of them decided to go. He asked them before, but they have not been taking him up on his offer.
When they got back, an hour and a half later, 8 yo glowingly told me he said the whole Shemone Esre and he read Shmuel Aleph through tenth perek. My husband could not corroborate, but I like that they went and davened and learned.
After their breakfast, they wanted to watch TV. I said they could watch after we talk a bit about today's fast. That did not go over so well. They went outside to water the plants, hung out a bit, but then decided that they would like to learn and then to watch. I pulled our Kitov's The Book of Our Heritage, as I know he quotes the Mishna listing 5 calamities of the day. I am giving myself a pat on the back for finding the right Mishnah, as Kitov has it listed incorrectly, and I guessed that Taanit is in Moed. I never studied Mishna formally, so I am groping here, too. I asked 8 yo to read the text, just the first part. 6 yo stayed on the floor, playing with 2 yo. About halfway through, 8yo said he does not want to read any more, it is making him too sad. I felt a bit stuck; I was not sure whether this is his sensitivity kicking in, or desire to finish an unpleasant task. I decided to push through a bit, helping him translate. I also explained the concept that I picked up from a shiur yesterday, how the disasters of 17th of Tammuz are reversible with Teshuva, and are not finalized. I thought we would finish on a high note of how these things could be undone, but 8 yo sulked and closed his ears and said that this is all making him sad and he does not want to hear any more. I basically got 6 yo to say how the golden calf was undone through teshuva and 13 attributes of mercy and how Hashem gives us an opening for repentance and even the right words.
I also stressed how fasting is secondary, but his feeling of the horribleness of this day is more important. I gave an example of how many FB statuses this morning had to do with people complaining of being hungry and not focusing on the reason they were fasting. By the way, we do not give out desserts or treats on fast days to kids.
I am not so sure whether my message was received. I know that a lot of what I think falls on deaf ears does get compartmentalized somewhere, so I am hoping that it was not just learning to get to TV watching. I will see how things go on Tisha B'Av. I am looking for meaningful, kid-oriented activities. I am thinking they might be old enough to watch Paperclips and who knows? Tennessee is only a state away and maybe that will be another filedtrip.