okay, leaving the regrettable grammatical knot aside (political correctness don't come cheap, ya know), that sentence has been echoing in my head, making me wince. I winced while writing it, winced and hit "publish" fast, before I could try to rewrite it a seventh time, and winced long after I'd shut the computer down.
That's arrogance, that is. That's self-satisfied smugness. That deserves a zetz upside the head, it does. And oh, does it humble me.
For months now, we've specialized in being the proud possessors of just a little too much life to catch our breath. The siddur cover (your kid, the rabbi, the Divine and a book) declined to linger on the sidelines, and jumped right in to the Mike madness. While we bumbled through fabric stores and learned about such arcana as fusible webbing, bobbins and presser feet, the dryer declined to be fixed (a position it would maintain through Passover), the doctors refused to be pinned down, bosses to accept mere mortal limitations, and computers, well, alas the damn thing just sniggered, whiffed and shuffled off this mortal coil, not having completed its initial mozy download. So who had time to dogpaddle? Occasionally, we stuck our noses above water, if only to reacquaint ourselves with the idea of oxygen.
In the middle of the swirling, flaming chaos, the siddur cover was an oddly quiet space. I couldn't run while sewing. I couldn't email, blog, edit or just talk on the phone while stitching, nor during the hour-long drive to a hemo-mommy with mad sewing skills. But I could listen to the radio, and I discovered (yes, finally) NPR. And WTKK's Monica Crowley show, which I'll happily endorse as being just the thing for an overtired liberal to listen to during a long, late, late night drive home. She's Patrick Henry in a miniskirt. She told me so herself - and given that, how could I not listen?
Oh, but those were punchy, punchy days. Speckled by quiet hours with only a small amount of snarling over misplaced stitches. What you do is beautiful, my tea informed me. And I hoped like hell it was right. It will be beautiful, a friend informed me, sternly. He will love it. I hung on to that and muttered happily over my embroidery hoop. Upstairs, the Man hummed to himself, sketching micrographia for the bookplate.
Of course things went wrong. Sewing machine needles broke. At 10.30 pm, the night before the thing was due. I handed in a column, and laughed at my own gall. Purim came, giggled at us, and kindly left again. The Man and I fled to the Happiest Place on Earth for a training session, and oh yes, there were preschools. Many, many preschools, parading past my glazing eyes. And did I mention the Mikes? Yep. And of course, things went right. It takes a village to be this Imperfect, and I'm damned if I know when they all showed up. But oh, thank you thank you.
The morning of the ceremony, I screeched into the school office and handed it over. Done. I joined the rest of the parents and shared tissues while the kids sang bits of the morning davening (prayers), and explained them to us. They looked astonished and delighted as the teachers wheeled in the bookcase of siddurim, and with a flourish, handed them out. The Man and I watched the children and glowed. Damply.
The rabbi was right, of course. The Eldest hugged his siddur, and we only barely peeled it out of his arms at feeding times. By the end of the day, the bookmark was spotted with something oily, and there was ink on the spine. And a plastic cover, applied (as per the school's recommendation) to help the siddur survive all that love.
The plastic, while wise, didn't exactly encourage decent photography, but this might give you an idea:
Tiny details entertained and pleased us, and the Eldest loved discovering them: the seven dark green knots on the Tree of Life, the echoes of the front and back covers, the tiny almost-emu and not-quite wombat, the embroidery threads in the colors of the prophet's robes, used for this wee fellow:
Yep, a tiny prophet. Echoing his more dramatic buddy, he stands with one hand on the Tree of Life, and the other hand holding his staff. Taking notes, you see, because his turn will come.
We wish for you, we wrote to the Eldest, that you will hold on to the Tree of our family's traditions, and grow with it. And that you will use these pages to see the wonder in the world, and the gifts that God gave in creating it - and you. The prayers in this book are a way to connect with God...and those who treasure those connections may find paths open in unexpected ways..."
You are that unexpected path, we didn't tell the Eldest. But we didn't need to. He hung on to his siddur, examining it, delighted and fascinated, and told us just how much he loved...
Four days later, triumphant and now trying to catch up with myself, I climbed into the car. Early morning, time to go to school. The boys were dressed, fed, brushed (erm) and bagged behind me. I'd even remembered their buckles. I put my hands on the steering wheel and promptly fell asleep. Scraped my eyelids open, and peered at the windshield. Fell asleep. Scraped the eyelids open, rummaged around for something to yell at the kids about, in the theory that being pissed off might wake me up. Fell asleep. Gave up, and hauled the astonished children back into the house, supplied them with books and train tracks, and fell asleep on the futon.
You are being an idiot, a friend told me, and watched me scrabble the shredded bits of myself together. I was being an idiot. And Passover was coming....