Friday, October 31, 2008

Drinking Lessons

As we sat in our Sukkah, I resolved to make good use of the time and teach my children an essential life skill while celebrating the joy of Judaism's harvest festival.

I brought three little glasses and poured a bit into each. Then I showed them, first you tap the glass three times on the table. Then, before we clink glasses we shout out our toast. The classic is of course l'chaim which means, in Hebrew, "To life!" But others are possible, "To mommy," "To Spongebob," or "To waffles."

Then, we slammed it down. My son tried to sip, but I explained that this was forbidden, we must gulp it down and exhale with a loud, "Aaah!"

After the first few, my kids got tired and wanted to quit. But I wouldn't let them. I told them they needed to see this through. Together we finished a fifth - of Dr. Brown's Black Cherry soda.

In about a couple of decades they can graduate to the real stuff, I just want them to be ready.

Yom Kippur Lessons

On Yom Kippur there is an afternoon lull when the morning service ends and the evening service begins. Since it is a fast day, adults are usually getting a bit cranky and sluggish by this time. My son was in the Youth Lounge at our synagogue playing games and I thought he might want to go home and have something to eat (he's only seven, too little to fast.)

However, when I got to him, he didn't want to leave, and I saw why. He was engaged in an intense game of pool. A game to which he had just been introduced.

The written manual of Jewish law is called the Shulchan Aruch (which literally means "Set Table" in Hebrew - you can see how important eating is to Jews.) But somehow, I don't think this was meant to refer to racking the billiard bills.

But he'll always have fond (if atypical) memories of the Yom Kippur he learned to play pool.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cookie Campaign

I am tired of the elections (who isn't at this point.) But the are creating some difficult discourse in our home. The other day my son asked, "Dad, I need cookies."

I did what any responsible father would do and said, "Is that how we ask for things?"

My son walked away, surprising, but in the short attention span theater that is the mind of a seven year old, not unlikely. A few minutes later, my son and daughter walked into the kitchen - my daughter planting herself firmly in front of me and my son standing behind her. She began:
Daddy. Some people don't want us to have cookies. But a lot of people like cookies. Cookies would make us happy. You should give us cookies because we need to be happy. They will make us strong. Daddy. Consider it. It is your duty. Give us cookies.
Then my son stepped forward and announced, "I'm Barak Obama and I approved this message."

Clearly the Obama campaign has raised way too much money if they can afford to advertise extensively on Nickelodeon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Power of Media

So I am listening to a new book, and, while driving carpool the kids asked to hear a little. My daughter thought the reader sounded just like the narrator of The Egyptologist*. So, looking at the box I saw it was read by Andrew Sachs who played Manuel on Fawlty Towers.

So I began telling the kids about Fawlty Towers and when we got home I found some videos on YouTube including this one of Manuel getting smacked around:

When their mom got home, they swarmed her and began hitting her yelling, "You're Manuel! You're Manuel!"

They learned their lesson about hitting and I learned mine about the impact of TV violence. We all had long timeouts.

*Capsule review of The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips - It was pretty good, but a little too long, and I saw through the big twist about halfway through and listened to about 8 hours till the end hoping to be wrong.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Holding the Line in the New Year

Rosh Hashanah,the Jewish holiday that just initiates a time of contemplation, for taking stock and considering how to better oneself in the coming year. Thinking along those lines takes me in certain directions, which this comic strip (Rhymes with Orange - contact your local paper about carrying this terrific comic today!) captured my life perfectly.

None of this was helped by the fact that, after a week of tremendous effort, my son's shofar skills have improved from "dying alpaca" to "walrus in heat" (which isn't that far off from how the thing should actually sound.) I have been overthrown from yet another household title. I am no longer the Risk champion of the house. My son has also learned he can beat me at dodgeball by getting inside and throwing at my shins - and he walloped my slider over the neighbor's fence for a home run (granted the ball was a foam and didn't break right.)

Being regularly bested by a seven-year old - my efforts at self-improvement will focus on identifying areas where I can still defeat him and hold the line, lest my household authority deteriorate further. Maybe I'll break out the old Atari and play him at Asteroids or Pong. But not Missile Command - that spooky noise when your defenses fail (as they inevitably must) and the world comes to an end will give him nightmares.

I still have those nightmares.