Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Monday, November 26, 2012
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Friday, September 7, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
The assumption is that when a baby arrives in a household, the former “only child” feels dethroned and envious. I proudly report to everyone who asks, that Zev is handling his big brotherness beautifully. He adores Oz, reads to him, draws pictures of him. When Oz does some new baby trick, Zev brags to everyone from his teachers to the supermarket cashier.
He even does a great job if sensing when the baby needs my full attention. When I’m nursing, soothing or putting Oz to bed, he is careful to give me a wide berth. And that’s the problem.
Zev has gotten so good at giving me space that I feel as though a whole solar system has grown between us. My husband says I’m crazy to think this, that I’m the center of Zev’s universe. But I know better.
“When is Abba coming home?” Zev asks, looking at the clock as though it will conjure his father faster.
“The same time he always does,” I say. “Are you enjoying your double-scoop of ice cream with three toppings?”
“Yeah,” he allows. “Can I get into my Ninja costume so when Abba comes home I can sneak up and attack him?”
“You could,” I say. “Or you can hang out with me, and we can bake cookies and draw pictures and read a little.”
There is a pause as he considers his options.
“I know! What if I dress up like a spy and set up a booby trap for him instead?”
For about four months I tried to shake off the feeling that I’m a third wheel. Sure, I don’t play video games or know all the members of the Justice League, but I’m still fun. Zev still thinks I’m fun! Right?
Then one morning I stumbled into the kitchen after a sleepless night to find Zev engaged in an animated discussion with his dad about Inspector Gadget. I waited for him to say “Good morning.” When he didn’t, sleep deprivation and my own petty insecurities got the better of me. I snapped.
“You never even look up at me when I come into the room anymore!” I said to Zev. “It hurts my feelings!”
Yep. I directed an emotional outburst at a 6-year-old. I might as well have said, “You love him more than you love me,” before refusing to eat my peas.
Zev hugged me, and I apologized. Later, Hubby tried to remind me, again, that Zev still loves me very much, and the fact that I’m spending a lot of time with Oz does not change our older son’s feelings for me.
The truth is, my role has diminished. I look at how dependent upon me Oz is – I’m not only his primary comforter and protector, I’m his sole food source! – and I realize that Zev needs me less every day. While it’s silly for me to feel jealous, I know the slight distance I’m feeling now is just a glimpse of a much bigger separation to come.
No less an authority than the Torah prepares us for this. All through the Bible are stories of children leaving their parents to strike out on their own. These stories are meant to be inspirational. To remind us that we shouldn’t feel threatened by the natural development of our children.
Eventually, Zev will engage the world on his own. He’ll succeed and fail outside my peripheral vision. He’ll make some friends I may never meet.
I should take comfort in knowing that his growing independence is part of the circle of life. After all, if I hadn’t grown up, there would be no Zev. From here on out, I will try to not be jealous. I will embrace Zev’s growth. As Genesis tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave onto his wife.”
I hate her already.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
I hate seeing summer fade to fall. The days grow shorter, the temperature drops and blockbuster superhero movies vanish from the Cineplex in a, ahem, Flash.
Many people developed Superhero fatigue this summer, what with Thor, the Green Lantern, the X-Men and Captain America all battling for our movie-going bucks. But I have a 6-year-old son and a geek for a husband; so in my household there can never be too many square-jawed men saving the world in skin-tight outfits.
The other day, I was feeling glum about the changing of the movie seasons – fall always brings Serious Grownup Movies to the theatres (yawn), but Zev reminded me that I need not say goodbye to the Superboys of Summer. Just because Ryan Reynolds isn’t on every magazine cover in a glowing green bodysuit, doesn’t mean that superheroes can’t be seen all over the place. It just takes a little imagination. And a tallit.
“Look, Eema!” Zev shouted loudly as we passed a group of black-hatted Orthodox Jews walking down the streets with their overlong tallits blowing in the wind like capes. “They look like Super Jews!”
The gaggle of Orthodox men inspired Zev to design the perfect Super Jew. Some would argue that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster already designed the perfect Super Jew when they came up with Superman in the 1930s. But Zev’s mind is faster than a speeding bullet, and I wasn’t about to slow him down:
“Their tallits are capes,” he began.
“Naturally,” I said.
“And those little curls,” he continued.
“You mean peyos?” I said.
“Yeah, the peyos can deflect lasers. Oh! And they can shoot lasers out of their tefillin!”
If the men in black hats could hear Zev, they certainly didn’t let on. What else would a Super Jew look like? I asked.
“He’d wear all Blue and White, like the Israeli flag, and he could have spikes on his head like Darth Maul. Except, the spikes would be in the shape of a Mogen David,” he said. (I know, I know. The world doesn’t need more horned-Jew imagery, and yes, Darth Maul is a Sith, not a Superhero. But I wasn’t going to quibble because, seriously, how cool is a Mogen David-headed Darth Maul?)
Eventually Zev moved on to some other pressing topic. But I ruminated on Super Jew for a while. If we distill our reasons for engaging in our religion (and, let’s face it, for most of us, this is the only time of year in which we do engage), it is to – kinda sorta – tap into our inner superheroes.
We may not don cod pieces for Yom Kippur, but for many of us this is the only time of year we put on a kippah – an article of clothing that draws as much attention as a facemask with bat ears. And why do we do it? Because it feels right. Because we want to do better and make the world a little better.
Taking the analogy further, it’s easy to see the Torah as headquarters, the thing we turn to to remind ourselves that we have a purpose on this planet. The minyan is our Justice League. And the shofar is, of course, our Bat-signal.
Every year we promise to be nicer to people. To worry less about the things that don’t matter and rail against the things that do. This year, with Zev’s brilliant imagery in mind, how great would it be if we got closer to attaining those goals?
No we can’t shoot lasers out of our tefillins. And, no, our tallits can’t help us fly. But imagine if we tried to model ourselves on the tights-clad saviors we watched all summer long. Imagine if we all vowed to spend less time acting as our mild-mannered alter egos and more time really being heroic, trying to do right in the world in whatever ways we could.
In the next few weeks, our communities will be teaming with suited men and women sporting billowing tallises and embarking on heroic quests to do good, seek justice and make amends with their fellow men.
What’s that, up in the sky? It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Actually, I have no idea what it is, but down here, at shul, I hope to see a legion of Super Jews.