Wednesday, February 27, 2008

put in your place: a shabbat story

Shabbat morning.

Inevitably, I'm doing my best to be asleep, while the Man does his best to practice the Torah reading he'll be doing that day in the synagogue (he is that rare creature, the reliable leiner, a person who performs - cantillates? - the Torah portion while the congregation reads along with him. I love to just sit and listen to the sound and texture of the words, but that's me). He's also trying to feed the children, pack a snack for the Eldest, get the children dressed, toothbrushed, clotting, and clean up any leftover dishes from the night before.

I think. Like I said, I'm doing my best to sleep in.

Eventually, the Man will wake me up and hand over the Toddles. The Toddles is allergic to nearly every snack the other children eat at our shul (synagogue), and so stays home with me on shabbat. This is in the process of changing, as our little synagogue has burgeoning children's programming (the Toddles was one of 10 babies born in a single year), and the programming committee decided that going Imperfect-friendly was entirely manageable.

No, really. They called me and politely asked if I would be interested in coming to shul with the Toddles, and if so, to the children's programs? I nearly burst into tears on the spot. Of course, I said, but I really, really don't want to put you to any trouble. Our syngagogue is tiny and poor, and allergy friendly snacks - Toddles-friendly, especially - are expensive. I pointed this out, and was told to hush up. The children's programs are about learning ritual and building community, I was told. You are part of that community. I sniffled a bit, and agreed.

And so the Toddles stays home - every other shabbat. Feeling a new freedom, he's asserting himself. So, one shabbat when the Man dropped him off at my bedside, the Toddles rebelled.

I go to shul with you! No, I GO TO SHUL WITH YOU!
No, sweets, the Man soothed, I'm leining today, and I can't keep an eye on you properly when I lein. The Man grinned. You're such a little imp!
The Toddles was the picture of offended smallness. I'm not an imp, he informed his erring father. I'm a little boy!
The Man, slightly stumped, finally realized that there was nothing but to run for it. And he did.

By this time, he and the Eldest were late for shul - and with the Man a crucial part of the service, this was a problem. They walked half-way, and then the Man was struck with a sudden thought. he felt around in his knapsack, and couldn't find the EpiPen Jrs for the Eldest.

I don't have the Epis, he told the Eldest, grinding his teeth. And we're late already!
The Eldest regarded him calmly. Daddy, what's more important, that we get to shul on time or that I'm safe?

The Man, put in his place by his offspring again, knew exactly what to do this time: he advised the Eldest to run for it, and they did. They ran all the way home, where the Man shoved two Epis in to his bag. When they didn't fit, he realized that in fact there were already two Epi Jrs in the bag... Although I rather felt it was my turn to take a run at the poor guy, I held my peace.

After all, I do want to sleep in next shabbat morning, as well.

1 comment:

Zina said...

Oh your poor Man! I feel for him. I really do.

I love participation in our Mass. My husband is more the Sacristan and not a Lector.

And it will be great for your synagogue to have a program for you all. That's just great. I can see why they would want your whole family to participate in shul.

There are probably people in your community who are troubled that they couldn't have made it work before. Its not just about your family. It's about sharing your faith, and you and your little articulate Toddles have lots to share. I bet you they know they missing out big time when they don't have you there. ;-)