Monday, February 25, 2013

Is giving in worthwhile?

Two moments from this Purim.

We were supposed to make groggers, We were supposed to make them from the beginning of Adar. 6 yo asked to make groggers. When we got to the specifics, he wanted his to be wooden, with a gear inside around which the rest of the grogger turns. Well, we do not have any like that. I even Googled it, and it required power tools whose names I did not know, let alone how to use them. I kept hoping to make it to Michael's and see if they, by any chance, sell wooden gears, but it never happened. We were in the middle of making a paper towel roll grogger, when 8 yo said that we need to poke it with toothpicks and make it like a rain-stick. 6 yo listened to his brother, it did not work, the toothpicks fell out, and now the paper towel rolls was pockmarked with holes. I tried taping up the ends, but this was not satisfactory. Bottom line, I assumed that we will survive without groggers.

I was proven wrong on Shabbos, when 6 yo innocently announced that he does not want to go to a megillah reading because he does not have a grogger. Oops.. and we cannot make one on Shabbos. He was willing to stay home. I was planning on splitting up the kids with my husband, especially since they all decided to have a sleepover in 3 yo's room on Friday night and all were woken up at 5:30, so the chances of everyone being human by 7:30 pm were slim to none. Except that my husband got called in to a delivery around shalishudes time, which meant that if I wanted to hear a megillah, I have to make it to shul by 7:30, with all three kids in tow, and keep them quiet. That is hard to do when two of them are on men's side. And one of them was quite clear that coming to a megillah without a grogger is unacceptable.

Shabbos was over at 7:10. I grabbed three plastic cups, dumped some kidney beans in each, told boys to grab scissors, and traced three circles for the openings. I told the boys to cut theirs out, while I was cutting 3 yo's. By now I know better than not to make something for her when the boys are doing a project. Then I grabbed packing tape and taped the circles on the cups' openings. Most creative grogger ever? I don't think so. More like quickest grogger assembly.

We got to the megillah reading just in the nick of time, huffing and puffing. And I was so pleased to see that some of the kids' friends had very similar groggers (two cups taped together)! The boys sat quietly, and gleefully shook at Haman, 3 yo bounced between my lap and the floor space, and also shook while everyone booed.

In the morning, we went to a megillah reading after shacharit. Since parking can be an issue, we decided to go all together early enough for my husband to daven. This meant that there was a good 40 minute davening before we got the the megillah. This time I only had 3 yo to watch. I did get to daven, but she was getting a bit restless. I showed her Torah, pulled out her books, gave her a few little toys. All was going well till the actual megillah time. I was holding a Youth Megillah, the one she barely glanced at the night before. As soon as the reading started, she decided that she HAS to hold it and look at it now. I could not talk, so I was trying to give her another book, or somehow indicate that mommy needs this book. She was starting to get whiny and that whine was about to escalate into a scream. But I needed a text to follow... suddenly I remembered that I had a Laffy Taffy in my purse from the carnival the week before. I quickly gave her the candy, hoping to distract her temporarily. She asked me to open the wrapper. I slowly unwrapped it, still thinking where can I get the text to follow. She got busy with the candy, and I had fifteen seconds, during which I spied a megillah in the next pew. Yes, I fed my child candy at 9 am. But I was able to reach for that megillah and give up the decorated one, and there was no screaming and interrupting everyone else.

I used to think that both of these moments would show me to be a weak mother. A 6 yo should understand that not making a grogger beforehand will result in no grogger on Purim. A 3 yo should understand that now Mommy needs this book. But then I am thinking about the conflict that would create, the tears, the screaming, the disruption, the hurt feelings. Is it more important to be right, or to make the best out of the situation?

There are other times when I can teach my kids the consequences of their (in)actions or the appropriateness of their behavior. But in these circumstances, giving in seemed like the best response.

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