Clean Slate

When you read this, I will be in the midst of celebrating, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Like most religious holidays, it includes prayer and food.  However, it is so much more than that. It is the holiday of second chances.

Beginning tonight with Rosh Hashana, which commemorates the anniversary of the creation of the world, and concluding ten days from now with Yom Kippur, we are being judged. Scary connotations, I know. Who hasn’t gone astray? Done things they should not have? Said things that were hurtful to others? Let their potential go unfulfilled? I am confident when I say the answer to that series of questions is everyone. I know, for sure, I have.  That is why we have this period, which is known as the 10 days of repentance.

Often behavior noted above leaves me disappointed with myself. Whether it is losing my patience with my children, arguing with my wife, gossiping about friends, or not showing the proper respect to my mom, (I‘ll stop there – no need to fill you in on all my dirty laundry) I have a whole load of missteps that I need to work on. I am not expecting perfection, and I am confident G-d does not expect that. In fact, I read somewhere that one of the major aims of this time period should be set up a plan and goals on how you will strive to be that better version of you.

Anyway, I think my reaction to my faults is probably typical. Wallowing, frustrated, disheartened are obviously feelings no one wants to experience. That is where the beauty of this holiday and time period come in. We can say: I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I’ll change. I will do better. And an all knowing G-d will hear us and recognize our sincerity. Get this – G-d can wipe the slate clean.  It’s a burden lifted and an opportunity to move forward and strive to be more like the person you desire to be.

Isn’t that beautiful? I believe it is. So, while this is certainly a heavy time (and I don’t mean because of all the delicious food around – that’s a whole other topic) of year, it ultimately is a time of lightening one’s load. So, tonight and through these next 10 days, I will strive to let go and begin anew my quest to become a better me.

If is Not That Big

If, if, if.. I’m sure we have all heard the saying that if is the biggest word in the English language. If is a word of second thoughts daydreams, wonder, and lego.

BR, my 8-year-old has become obsessed with lottery tickets. I know, I know that is not a good thing for a child. It has been the subject of arguments between, he and I, he and his mother, and my wife and I. I’d like to blame my wife for turning our son into a compulsive gambler. Why do I want to blame her – you may be wondering? Well, I believe it is true to an extent. She also enjoys playing the lottery. He has seen her play, asked about what she was doing, and begged to scratch off the ticket himself. Experiencing the thrill of victory even if it is for as little as two dollars sends his little body into a frenzy of excitement. I have to admit that part is cute. However, I have to acknowledge my role in creating the gambler as well. I don’t go in for the scratch offs – I’m into Mega Millions. I dream of fortunes. My son has noted these dreams – not getting my complete lack of expectation – and has fed off of it. While he does not enjoy playing this form of the lottery, he does share the dream.

My wife and I have discussed what to do about our little Jimmy the Greek. Unfortunately, we are not completely on the same page as to the extent of the problem (must be shocking to all of you who have perfect marriages – completely in sync with each other). However, we do agree and are working to curb BR’s enthusiasm for the lottery. I suppose you could say he is on a multistep program designed to wean him of his obsession.

Most people who play the lottery dream of the ensuing riches. What would I do? Hmmm. Well, I asked BR what would he want to do with his lottery winnings? His first answer is buy Lego sets. Now, that’s an 8-year-old response. He goes on to add to his list an i-pad and i-pod. Now, that’s an 8-year-old’s response in 2012.

SJ, my 5-year-old, is not obsessed with the lottery. Shew, that’s a relief. However, he dreams of treasure. Before our vacation, he mentioned to me that he was excited to dig on the beach with the hopes of finding a treasure. When asked what he hoped to find in the treasure, his answer was Thomas Trains and Lego Duplo. Now, that’s a 5-year-old response. His next answer was money which he said he would give to the poor people and buy Thomas Trains.

So, my boys dream of ifs. They want toys, technology, etc. I am fine with that. However, I don’t want them to rely on ifs like the lottery and lost treasure to fulfill their dreams. Go to school, gain knowledge, and work hard – that is a recipe for reaching many ifs.

Brilliant Idea

*See below

I have a business idea, and I need your help. That help could simply be through your verbal support and encouragement or though your financial backing. Both levels of support would be most beneficial. I can ensure you a great return on your money. Let me give you some background.

This past week was a crappy sleeping week for my children and therefore it was crappy sleeping for my wife and I. You have all been there done that and probably posted about it at least once yourself. We all do it. So, there is no use complaining about it. Therefore, the question turns to what are you going to do about it? I don’t mean just drink coffee (I don’t EVEN like coffee, but that’s not the point) or try and find time to grab a quick nap. I am thinking a more long term solution. Real action!

Here it is – drum roll for my brilliant idea please – KIDDIE KENNEL. A kid kennel is for those times when you absolutely need to get rid of your kids. I don’t mean babysitting for an hour. No, I mean for a few days, weeks if you must, at a time. I am not judging. We don’t judge at Kiddie Kennel. Anyway, can you imagine the commercial?

You have a picture of a parent or parents who are looking stressed and disheveled. Kids crying, kids fighting, kids waking up in the middle of the night, etc. The parent(s) can’t take it anymore. Rather than snapping or having the kids watch hours upon hours of television, they just pack a bag and drive them off to the Kiddie Kennel. When they get to the kennel, they drop the child off with a suitcase and a friendly, responsible, and safe-looking individual takes the child off the parent’s hands. The parent turns around, sighs, and heads back to the car.

In the next clip, the parent(s) is at home. They parent(s) hears birds chirping, gets work accomplished, wakes up refreshed, and even engages in some nocturnal activities with their spouse. Later, the parent(s) returns to Kid Kennel. They again meet the friendly, responsible, and safe individual who shakes their hand and returns the kids, who are all smiles. Everyone is happy.

Tell me that is not a brilliant idea. Tell me you would not like a Kid Kennel in your neighborhood. Tell me you would not utilize the services of Kid Kennel. Of course you would! Wow, I have finally done it. This is my Apple. I’m going right to the top, baby. Oh yes, and I am offering you a chance to invest in this seminal shift in child rearing. No need for thanks.

So, tell me are you interested?

*Of course, this is tongue in cheek. I would never want this for my children. No, never. Really.


This Should Not Be Happening

I owned recess time. I was a star. In elementary school, recess meant sports. Depending upon the season and mood, my friends and I played football, basketball, baseball, or wall ball. I was captain, quarterback, etc. It felt good. I was not shy on the field/court.  My upbringing as the youngest of four boys in a sports-crazed family served me well.

Then, things changed.

As third and fourth grade came around, girls came into the picture. And things got confusing. And awkward. By the time of the graduation trip in sixth grade, one of my best friends had a girlfriend. Did they kiss? I dunno know.  Couldn’t we just focus on sports? Why talk or consider something other than sports?  I understood it, reveled in it, etc. There were girls I liked and those who liked me. I guess. I had no idea how to express such an interest. I was not ready.

By the time I got to high school, some things had changed. Unfortunately, some things had not. I was still awkward and shy. I had a crush on a girl – Shannon – who was in 10th grade when I was in 9th. An older woman. Anyway, we had algebra together, and I sat right behind her.  I used to space out and dream of her. My dreams did not get much beyond holding her. Sometimes, I would find myself wandering behind her in the hallways. No, I was not creepy. Anyway, I never did have much conversation with her, though I did enjoy a friendly relationship with the girl next to her.

I lost out because I was unable to overcome my shyness.

This past week I returned to the high school where I work. The inner city high school is located in East New York Brooklyn. It was nice to see some of my colleagues and catch up on families, summer activities, and gossip. However, the talk was much more than I expected. One of my colleagues informed me about the passing of a student who would have been in the 10th grade.

While I did not know the student, I was terribly saddened. I was informed that he was shot, gang style. Someone knocked on his door and shot him in the head. He lingered in a coma for a month before succumbing to death.

Why? Why did this terrible thing happen? Why are kids killing each other? Someone said it was over a girl. Are you kidding me? At 14, kids kill each other over a girl?  What kind of relationship can a 14-year-old have? This is not Romeo and Juliet (who did not have much of a relationship either, by the way). Did he make a pass at a girl who was “taken”?  Does it matter?

I’m sure there’s a middle ground here somewhere, between me – too shy to have a real conversation with a girl – and those who would shoot someone because he got in the way of a ‘relationship’.

A dead boy, a grieving mother – this should not be happening.