Saturday, May 11, 2019

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

You know I didn't buy you a present because I totally suck in that department, but this year I will tell you and thousands of people, THANK YOU. That is my present - a big THANK YOU.


Thank you!

Holy shit you put up with a lot. My brother and I are not easy and you handle us well. We are the funniest children you could've asked for (I am funnier), but the majority of our jokes are at your expense. You do have to take some responsibility though, you give us great material to work with. On this Mother's Day, I will say thank you with my whole heart.

Thank you for teaching me the value of education. Many children do not have the opportunity to be raised by a mom with fake degrees in meteorology, medicine, business, orthopedics, mental health, immunology, oncology, and child development. All of your knowledge helped guide me through school to pursue a higher education.

Thank you for teaching me how to be a know it all. From your fake degrees to your life experiences, you have the answer for everything. Because you always have the answer, I do too. And if for some reason I do not know the answer, I can ask you because you know it all.

Thank you for teaching me confidence. Whether personal or professional, when life handed you lemons you taught me not to make lemonade, but to throw those lemons back and not take anyone's shit. We are better than those lemons.

Thank you for teaching me respect. I know those lessons were the hardest to teach as I am a smart ass, but somehow between the soap in the mouth, the spanking, the grounding, the screaming, you raised a very respectful child.

Thank you for teaching me to advocate for myself. Living in a "the teacher is always right" home, you helped me understand that if there was a true injustice you would get involved, but the small stuff- I had to deal with it.

Thank you for teaching me it is okay to turn a blind eye. I did some stupid shit as a kid and even as a young adult in college and you let those bad decisions play out.

Thank you for teaching me lying is unacceptable. Forging your signature on my 5th grade progress report was not my brightest decision. And while I chose to hide things by omission, I definitely learned not to lie to your face. If only you had taught my brother being a snitch was worse. Remember, snitches get stitches!

Thank you for teaching me how to be the best secret keeper, ever. I have no idea what you are taking to your grave, but I could bet all the money in the world it is some damn good gossip.

Thank you for teaching me my emotions are okay to express. Even though your tear ducts have been broken since 1982, I learned to express myself in joy, sadness, pain, anger.

Thank you for teaching me how to host holidays. From soup to brisket to way too much food, our guests will never go hungry. And while I have learned to lessen the sodium count, I surely learned how to host with love.

Thank you for teaching me family is the most important thing. You never allowed my brother and I to sacrifice one another for the sake of friends. You made sure we stuck together, were thick as thieves, and now you are paying for that lesson. We are a duo like no other.

Thank you for teaching me how to use profanity correctly. From fuck to bitch to shit to damn it - those words were expressed with correct annunciation and were always grammatically correct.

Thank you for teaching me leadership. Working your way to the top in business showed me I was capable of anything and while true leaders have set backs, they continue to rise to the top.

Thank you for teaching me parenting extends even after your children have children. Sure you went running from newborn E2 and refused to help us with her, but in your defense we all thought she was the spawn of Satan.

Thank you for teaching me support. Even when I have been dead wrong (which isn't often), you have supported me. When I was forced to make tough decisions which inevitably you had to take the consequence for, you supported me.

Thank you for teaching me so many things.

Thank you for letting me make fun of you, take advantage of you, yell at you.

Thank you for being young at heart and traveling with us. While we would never admit it to your face, we love having you join us and love the memories you create with your granddaughters.

Thank you for being the best mom to me.

Because of you, I have been blessed with an ego so big I believe I can accomplish anything.
Because of you, my self-confidence is so high I don't give two fucks what others think of me.
Because of you, my sense of loyalty is strong and it has caused me to choose my friends wisely. Because of you, I have high expectations of myself and others and will never settle for mediocrity.

Thank you for being the badddest bad ass bitch in town.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Tie.

Oh fourth grade, I heart thee.

This has been such an incredible year. Make no mistake both girls have been blessed beyond measure with some remarkable educators but fourth grade, well it has been the icing on an already delicious cake.

Why is this grade different? Emotional acknowledgment and support. Fourth graders are tough. They are nine, mostly ten before the year's end. Ten year old children are a handful. They are still children, but their hormones are kicking in and they are transforming into young adults. Hormones can drive the "best mom and dad" crazy, but let's be honest - teachers have these hormonal Tasmanian Devils 40 hours a week.  Forty hours of tears, anger, anxiety, hyperactivity, learning struggles, learning achievements, and so much more. Add to that teachers are handling all this with 24 kids in a classroom. There's a reason I never taught fourth grade.

As luck would have it, E1's teachers have been a pillar of emotional strength for her and all their students. They know it takes a partnership with parents to truly get through to the child. They know to see success it takes a learning environment where students feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and yes, those fourth grade feelings.

E1 is trusting, loyal, anxious, and naive. You can pull the wool over her eyes at any time and while she is learning to see the bullshit, more often than not she can still be deceived. E1 believes people at their word and would never in a million years think someone would lie to her. Especially a friend. E1 has yet to realize that girls are bitches and true friendships are a rare find.

In the beginning of the year I set the stage as I do every year. I am "that mom." I am involved in PTO, I send emails, I check homework, I check the on line grade book twice a day (judge away I give zero fucks), I eat lunch with my girls, I help them study. BUT I also hold them responsible. If they do not want to complete homework or study.... well, good luck to them because this mama says to the teachers, "Go right ahead and give that F. Go right ahead and take recess. My child is in the wrong." I open the line of communication with the teachers saying here are our emotional struggles, here is our dirty laundry, here is my child trying her hardest to navigate family life, academic life, social life, and oh yeah, hormones. As always, the teachers met my "crazy" with grace and acceptance and probably a little sympathy for E1. It's tough being my kid (sometimes).

With each passing week E1's star shone brighter. With each passing week E1 needed less and less help and willingly went to her teachers for help. With each passing week E1 forged an unforgettable bond with these teachers. I was living in a twilight zone with statements of "Mrs. W showed my paper to Mrs. K - can you believe it? I must be a good writer now." or "Mrs. K showed me how to do this. I am going to go in early for the review. I like the way she teaches it. Your way is old." While the former teacher in me wanted to help her, I couldn't help but relish in the fact that E1 trusted these teachers. And how do I know she trusted them? Because she was being her true self. E1 wrote a paper about how hard it is to be Jewish. It takes a lot of courage to not only talk about your religion, but to write about it negatively. It takes emotional support to know you can express yourself without discernment.

I cannot remember when, but at some point this year I was asked to stop by as the teachers were concerned about something E1 said during morning meeting. Morning meeting? Oh that's right, these teachers start each day with a student led conversation about various topics. The students share! Openly! There's no judgement, consequence, poking fun....just honest, real, conversation. It was at this moment I realized why E1 was soaring to success. Emotional support. She felt free to convey her every thought. She was free emotionally. While what E1 said at that morning meeting wasn't a "huge red flag" it was concerning because I had set the stage. The teachers know our family dynamics, they know the struggles at home, and when E1 expressed herself they felt it best to share considering what they already knew about her life.

THAT is called emotional support. THAT is going over and beyond. THAT is great teaching. When your teachers know you are willing to listen, when your teachers know you appreciate honesty, when your teachers know you support them and their efforts THAT is when the true learning can happen.  A student that is emotionally supported can achieve anything.

We have had growing pains too. The teachers expecting more from E1 and expecting 100% effort was a challenge at first. E1 is used to everything coming easily. She is used to minimal input with maximum output. Fourth grade proved to be the year where minimal input equaled minimum output. Did I enjoy seeing low grades in the grade book? Did I enjoy all the meltdowns at home of "I can't" Nope, not at all. But I supported the efforts of the teachers to encourage E1 to do better, be better. They saw her capabilities. They wanted for her to see her capabilities. With that bond of trust formed, E1 climbed the mountain of high expectations and saw her own self worth. She began writing papers for fun! She began asking for more math assignments! The hubs and I repeatedly asked ourselves, "What the fuck is happening?" Emotional support. That is what was happening.

Just today, I received this email:

While I loathe the STAAR test and everything it stands for, I LOVE THIS. It was a reminder of the emotional support we have received all year. It was a reminder of the partnership we have with her teachers. This idea, so simple and yet so powerful. It doesn't ask me to make a healthy breakfast. It doesn't ask me to make sure my kid gets a good night sleep. It doesn't ask me to remind my child to show their work on math or justify their answers on reading. It asks me to give ENCOURAGEMENT to my ten year old, my child, their student. 

During the Passover Seder this past weekend E1 and my nephew were discussing school. E1 was ranking her favorite school years and fourth grade tied for the number one seed. With the exception of once, E1 has loved each and every one of her teachers. She has said it was the best year each time a school year ends. However, she always held a special place in her heart for first grade. First grade was E1's first time to understand what a difference a teacher can make in a young girl's life. Knowing how she felt about first grade, I knew she would ever let another year rank higher.  First grade was just that awesome.  And sometimes a year cannot be out done. 

Until now.

A tie is two winners

Twice the love. 
Twice the best year ever. 
Twice the support. 
Twice the confidence. 
Twice the success. 

Fourth grade, we heart thee.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Blue Hearts

Yesterday was Autism Awareness Day. Yesterday I wore blue to the gym, E1 wore a blue bow to school, and my Facebook feed was filled with blue hearts, posts about Autism, and pictures of children with Autism. There was an overwhelming amount of support.

Today is Wednesday and the world resumed to its previously scheduled program. School was the same, I wore my regular clothes to the gym, and Facebook looked like it usually does - pictures and posts of glorious bullshit moments because let's get real, only few and far between post things like "I am going to kill my kids or drink a bottle of wine - I choose wine because that won't result in jail time."

While I appreciate Autism Awareness Day, Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, Down Syndrome Day, and all the other days to recognize and support our special needs population, I wish the support lasted more than a day.

We all hear the stories, read the blogs, see the few posts that some brave mom puts out for the world to see. But what we pay little attention to is the daily ins and outs of our friends' lives whose children fall under the special needs umbrella. I don't know one special needs mama that wants sympathy. I sure as hell don't want any. I do know special needs mamas who wish they could catch a break, wish someone would listen, and wish for once their kid had a good day.

From severe to mild there are struggles that require understanding. There is a lack of patience from others for the day to day. The parenting advice you're about to give doesn't work. Unless you're a trained professional, just shut the fuck up when your friend is venting. Listen. Don't talk. And when they are done tell them you love them, you are more than happy to buy them a drink (or 100), or just give them a hug.

Trust me when I tell you the mom whose child only eats six things has tried it all. You saying your child is the same diminishes the struggle. Your child will out grow it, theirs won't. Hell, E2 is a damn rock star in eating because after years of food therapy we do not bring food with us and she eats three vegetables. But make no mistake - there are numerous restaurants we don't go to because E2 won't eat anything there. She eats the SAME LUNCH every day. Please don't tell me to pack something else. It will throw off her routine and legitimately fuck up her day.

When you see tantrums from a child, know the mom is embarrassed and angry. They paid for countless hours of therapies and at this moment with a grocery cart full of food, the child has lost all coping mechanisms. This is normal in a special needs world. Compensation skills are gained and then poof! one morning they are missing. Hold the door for that mom, push her cart for her so she can hold her child, tell your own child "Everyone has bad days." Do not assume the kid is being a brat. Remember posting that blue heart and honor that post.

Please know we spend every last damn dollar on our special needs children and certain things are out of reach no matter how hard we try. Therapies, even when covered by insurance, can be $152 an hour! Don't believe me? Call Aetna. E2 needs physical therapy again and that is our cost. How do you maintain a childhood for the rest of your children if you need to pay hundreds of dollars a week in speech, occupational and physical therapy? I'm sure you don't have an answer, but on the 364 days of the year that don't require "awareness" this is what you should should be aware of - Families figuring out how to help one child while making sure the neuro-typical child gets that nero-typical childhood.

Perhaps you're thinking a special school would make life easier - for some it can. The average cost of those schools is 30k dollars a year.  We don't have to make that decision because E2 is doing well in public school, but if we had to pay it, we could not do it today. Yes, I could go back to work. That brings its own issues: morning care, after care, gas, etc - all of which cost money that was supposed to go to that tuition which may or may not "fix" everything. Special needs families are constantly caught between a 'is this necessary' vs 'can it wait' scenario. Unless you've been there, you cannot understand the guilt a special needs parent carries after making any financial decision. It's a world of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Remember sibling rivalry is not the same when one kid is special needs and the other one is not. There is resentment, love, a lack of patience, love, frustration, love. It sounds the same, but it is not. You have one child begging for the love of the other and the love possibly not being shown back. You can have one child wanting the bond, but the other one tired of working so hard to create the bond. To then reason with either is a nightmare. One cannot possibly comprehend what you're saying and the other is tired of having the same talk of needing patience because their sibling isn't like others. It's a daily, weekly, monthly, annual happening. Siblings of special needs children carry a burden that deserves its own awareness day. Even in our home, with a child whose label carries the word mild, E1 has asked if she will have to take care of her sister when we are gone. E1 has awareness every day that gives her a view of the reality not always shown to the outside.

Special needs mamas need to celebrate the smallest of victories because they are huge in their world. Special needs mamas want a heart for: dressing oneself, brushing teeth, taking a shower, learning to tie shoes, vacationing, sitting still for 10 minutes without an electronic device, looking someone in the eyes, making a C on a test, making a friend, cutting their own food, learning how to use the microwave, being invited to a birthday party, learning to talk, walk, basically anything that comes natural for other children.  When you post that blue heart, you are celebrating.

Keep celebrating with us. Keep fighting for our children with us. Keep walking with us. Just keep doing it for more than one day.

Awareness days are great. They bring light to a topic that needs discussing. But when the sun sets on that awareness day and the sun stops shining on that day, don't let that heart you posted fade along with the light.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Scary Nice

Well shit! I didn't mean to fall off the blogging grid. I swear, I didn't. Life happened and well, I just never sat down to type. And in full, honest disclosure.....I lost the power cord to my laptop and I refuse to blog from my phone. Luckily for me, I asked the hubs to help me find it today and because I am so awesome at putting away all the shit in this house, he opened the one fucking drawer I hadn't bothered to look in for the last two months and there it was. In my defense ( I know, I know) that drawer is filled with extra keys to cars we no longer have and homes we sold years ago....why the power cord was in there, I'll never know. Why I still have not thrown out all those keys....that is to be answered another time.

These couple months have been more of the same - softball, swim, homework, tests, volunteering in the school, hanging out with the family and hanging out without them too. (Every mama needs a break, or two, or four hundred). The other recurring activity these past two months has been the argument starting sentence of "but my friend does not have to...x, y, z." As the girls get older, it is becoming more obvious we are not the typical parents. I am a mixture of Mary Poppins and Mommy Dearest or as my friend's children coined me "Scary nice."

We live in a time where parents are afraid of disappointing their kids, solve all their problems for them, believe adversity is the enemy, failure is not an option and send their children to school with the thought of not my kid.

Unfortunately for my girls, their mama is stuck in the 1980s and 1990s where the teacher is always right, children are told what to do, and for the love of everything holy I am anything but their friend.
Somewhere we, the parents, mixed up advocating for our children with being their friend. My girls know I am their number one fan, but if their shit stinks I am going to tell them and I am going to make them wipe their own proverbial ass.

(However, if something egregious happens to them and they ultimately are in the right, I will move heaven and earth for them. They have both seen my "mama bear." They know she is in there hibernating, ready to take on a fight, BUT mama bear only comes out when I know for damn sure there is no ownership my child needs to take.)

Back to that Scary Nice, I am not your friend style of parenting.

Fail a test? Study more next time and no, you are not eligible to retake it. I told your teachers you didn't deserve that second chance because you did not prepare.

Messy room? Lose everything in the room (minus the bed and clothes) for however long I decide to keep it all. Why? Because I asked you a million times to clean it and you ignoring me is disrespectful and also, your room is fucking gross.

Didn't wash and condition your hair? Let me be the one to brush all the knots out. You'll be praying for a second chance to wash your hair correctly. Or brush it yourself for the 45 minutes it's going to take to remove the rat's nest from your head. Either way, you're not leaving the damn house looking like that. Take some pride in yourself.

Break shit in the house because you bounced the ball I told you not to - empty your piggy bank and give it all to me. Am I sure it costs that much?  Why yes, everything in this house costs the exact amount you have saved....for eternity.

No screens on school days. You have to use it for school? Let me email the teachers and double check that. Oh you can go in early? Let me drive you tomorrow morning. Don't pull the "teacher said so" card here - I was a teacher, I know what they say.

Still hungry? Eat your dinner.
Don't like what I made? starve.

Raise your voice? In trouble.
Roll your eyes? In trouble.
Pretend you're me and have a sarcastic bitchy tone - Big time trouble.

Does it sound a little militant? I guess so. I guess making sure respect and honesty are the most important values takes hard work. We have rules. Rules are followed or there are consequences.

Be a jack ass to your sister? No friends for you and you have to play whatever your sister wants for two days.

Glued to your iPad on a Sunday and didn't hear dinner was ready....yep, you missed dinner and nope, you don't get to eat.

Homework due tomorrow and you are not finished? No, you will not wake up early- you will miss your sport's game and/or practice. No one here is going to make a career from their athletic ability. And no, I am not squashing your dreams - I am being realistic.

Disrespectful to your teacher? You will write them an apology letter, we will drive you to school in the morning and make you read that letter through your snotty tearful remorse. Think I am kidding? I am not. Ask both girls' kindergarten teachers. This mama doesn't play.

Want an iPhone? No
Want social media? No
Want some game played with random other people on the internet? No

Do I sound harsh? You bet. I am their mom. I am not their friend. I am here to make sure they are productive, responsible members of society. No one in the real world is going to give them an extra chance or more time because they have anxiety, ADD, or Cerebral Palsy. Our world is dog eat dog and only the strong will survive. Childhood is the time to make mistakes and learn how to correct the behavior and not make the same mistakes. Yes, they are children and E1 is a mini version of myself and likes to learn things the hard way so there is always that added bonus to her life's journey.

We have fun. We vacation. We go on more outings than you can imagine. My kids have more free time, play time, down time than you can shake a stick at which is why I am such a stickler for respectful behavior. People should never confuse kindness with stupidity. We can go to the carnival and ride all the rides and eat all the food and win all the prizes, but if you lie about brushing your damn teeth that fun day will end in a category five hurricane and you will have no shelter to protect you.

I do not ask much from my girls. In fact, the more E1 talks to her friends the more she realizes how easy her life is. Sure, her mom is a raging bitch sometimes but she is coming to realize when the fire breathing dragon is breathing down her neck, she damn well deserves it.

I will teach my girls coping mechanisms. I will teach them strength and loyalty and dedication. I will show them respect and expect it in return. We can discuss anything - nothing is taboo. From friend drama to puberty to how babies are made - we cover it all.

Do I think this Scary Nice parenting works? Yes, I firmly do. E2 is the easy one so she is not the best example. E1 is our test case. At ten and a half I can tell you she has lived enough consequences to no longer make them. In true child fashion she will make more mistakes, but she has learned respect and honesty will always get her more sugar than salt.

So when people ask how I get my kids to go to bed so early, read so many books, eat this or that, study, etc. I give them the same answer I have always given....


If you are a Scary Nice mom reach out so we can be friends, grab a drink, and get ideas from one another. The day I took E1's door was glorious and it was not my idea. I took that idea from my village!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Hello 2019!

New Year's Eve - a time to reflect on the past year and make meaningful changes to your life for the year ahead.
New Year's Eve - a time to drink, eat, and possibly say fuck a few too many times in front of your friends' children.

I plan to do both.

2018 was an eventful year. It started with Disney World, Kindergarten and Third grade were completed, amazing new friends were made, our company reached the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, we loved the Rodeo, E1 came into her own on the softball field, and E2 killed it in the pool. We celebrated friend's children's Bar-Mitzvahs, picked strawberries, celebrated Jewish holidays, the girls participated in their first ever running series, we cruised, we vacationed with friends, the girls and I road tripped, we spent time with family near and far, started first and fourth grade, and lived each day to the absolute fullest.  2018 was a great year.

Having a great year doesn't mean there weren't bad times.
There were many days I cried in my closet - it seems to be the only damn place my kids cannot find me. The girls' struggles on certain days were just too much, my husband was annoying, we had a health scare, and a childhood friendship was lost. I questioned my strength, my courage...
Through it all, I remembered and always remember - stay true to yourself, stay true to your values, family first, to hell with the rest of it.

My life isn't perfect.
Do I sometimes want to scream shut the fuck up to my kids? Every. Damn. Day.
Do I want to stop making lunches and cooking dinner and doing laundry? Hell yes.
Do I want to find a way to make my seven year old stop whining? For the love of G-d, yes.
Do I want to tell my ten year old to calm the fuck down? All the time.

My kids have issues. I have issues, My husband has issues. We all have issues. Our issues are not what defines our year.
I could get bogged down in the neurology bills, the therapy bills, the constant teacher contact, the ridiculous paperwork that comes with labels OR I can see the fantastic achievements of two strong, independent young ladies.
I can see my husband's inability to take out the fucking trash or clean his damn night stand, or better yet fix some shit in this house OR I can see a man that works his ass off every single day and sacrifices his time with his children so we can have an awesome life.
I can see myself as overbearing and controlling OR I can remember that I am loyal, sensitive, and probably the funniest fucking person on the planet. (My brother is a close second)

I choose to see the positive. It doesn't mean the negative didn't happen, it just means I choose not to dwell on it. I have to smile each day. I have to laugh. It is who I am at my core. I am a happy person. I must find the joy even if it comes from the smallest victory, like witnessing E1's organized backpack the one and only time it happened. (She seriously is a fucking hoarder)

2018 brought family together, friends together, small and big strides, laughs, smiles, and love. The mistakes that happened were just that- mistakes, and I will try to learn from them and not make the same mistake twice.

As I prepare to eat, drink, and shoot off HOA banned fireworks with some of the greatest people this evening, I will remember all that happened in 2018 and pray for the same in 2019-
Health, Happiness, and Love....

And as always, below are the top ten most read posts for The Adventures of Tomboys in Tiaras.
It is incredible to me that my words have reached thousands and traveled to countries all over the world.

Top Ten
(Most to least this year)

1.  We Are Jewish
2. Tell Me Again
3. Unwanted Membership
4. I See You
5. Thank You, Kindergarten
6. The Answer
7. Because I am an A**hole
8. FRamily (One of the greatest memories of 2018. Love y'all!)
9. Operation $40
10. Procrastination

THANK YOU for all your support.
Happy New Year

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Swim Medal

Tonight, as you swam your heart out, there was a renewed energy in your spirit. You knew Ms. K had something for you. I told you as much, but you didn't know exactly what was happening.

A year and a half ago we switched swim clubs. A year and a half ago you had learned basic swimming and had come so far, but you weren't nearly the swimmer you are today.

Our swim club listened when I called and described you. They assigned you Ms. K, the most patient swim coach on the planet. Ms. K "gets you." She knows when you're frustrated, she knows when you're happy, she knows your work ethic, she knows your capabilities. Ms. K, with all that knowledge, has transformed you into a magnificent swimmer.

Twice a week for a year and half you have given 110%. You want to be on the swim team, but you just aren't ready...yet. Ms. K knows your goal and is working with you on the same exact drills the swim team does, she is timing you, she is yelling, "go," "swim faster," "kick," she is pushing you each and every lesson to learn not only the motor plan of each stroke, but the motor plans of a swimmer on their swim team.

Every week you smile and skip into the swim club.  But a few weeks ago you came to me sad and upset. Your friends, your sister, all have trophies from their sport and you do not have one. There are only trophies and ribbons for swim team races, not swim practice. I tried to explain to you all of this, but you weren't quite getting it. After all, you are in a sport. You are making progress, but you have nothing that says, "look what I have accomplished."

E2, you are still little and don't quite know yet that I will move heaven and earth for you. You don't quite understand the daily strings that must be pulled in an effort to keep our family stronger, to keep life moving down the path of success. As your mom, I have done many things to help you navigate this life and given the chance I would do them all again. So when I was faced with your sad face, I did what I only know to do - help get you what you deserve.

If you were a child that didn't try, that didn't listen, that didn't give 110%, I wouldn't have done this, but that is not you. You are a hard worker. You are determined. You are a fighter. And you deserve recognition for what you have accomplished in the pool. At 41, with no neurological impairments (being a sarcastic asshole isn't an impairment), I cannot swim the butterfly. But you, seven year old you with mild CP, not only can swim the butterfly, but it is your favorite stroke. You can also swim freestyle, breaststroke, and backstroke.
And you swim them all with grace.
You swim them all with a smile.

With all this in my mind, I spoke to Ms. K and she agreed recognition is what you earned. I ordered a swim medal off Amazon (hallelujah for Amazon) and secretly gave it to Ms. K. She presented to you your medal tonight after your lesson and your smile was huge.
You held your medal all the way home.
You rain into the house to show daddy.
You are sleeping with it in your bed.
You know the value of hard work and this medal means the world to you.

I do not believe in "everyone gets a trophy."
I do not believe in parenting what people call snowflakes.
I do, however, believe in the value of hard work and telling that person "job well done."

Tonight, as you were given your swimming medal-
You were recognized for being you.
You were recognized for your dedication.
You were recognized for your efforts.
You were recognized for your determination.
You were recognized for being you.

Job well done, E2.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

We Are Jewish

At 9:00 this Sunday morning I dropped my girls off at religious school. At 9:00 this Sunday morning I cried as I dropped my girls off at religious school. With tears streaming down my face I thanked the armed guard ready to give up his life to protect my children. At 9:00 this Sunday morning I kissed my girls good bye and for the first time ever, prayed that I would see them at pick-up. My morning was the same for every Jewish family. A morning filled with sadness and fear.

On the way to religious school I prepared the girls for the armed guard. I told them what happened in Pittsburgh. I told them some people hate Jews. Some people blame Jews for the world's problems. Some people no matter how hard we try will always hate Jews.

E1 asked if the shooter was a "psychopath."

This question sparked an entire discussion about antisemitism and what it looks like. It is not always a "psychopath" with a gun. It is not always the genocide of six million. It is not always the destruction of temples and Jewish owned businesses. With a shaky voice I told my girls of different times I experienced antisemitism.

I told them about the time my 11th grade English teacher told me to stop crying about the C on my paper because in the end I would still get into Harvard with the rest of the Jews.
I told them about how the Hebrew Club was not recognized at graduation even though all the other foreign language clubs were.
I told them how during sorority rush it is understood the Jewish girls will be cut from the majority of the houses after round one.
And then silently I remembered all the times we were almost chosen as parents, but ultimately looked over because we were Jewish. Antisemitism does not only come with guns. It comes with actions and words.

Antisemitism is as simple as the music teacher telling a then eight year old E1, there was no time to include a Hanukkah song in the holiday performance even though it was two weeks away.

Antisemitism is a Jewish friend posting to the neighborhood Facebook page because her son was teased/bullied for not celebrating Christmas.

Antisemitism is being told the Jewish kids can just hang the ornament from their door knob and we do not need to change the craft for the holiday school party.

Antisemitism is being asked where to throw a party because your friend knows you've found the best deals since well you're good at research.

Antisemitism is practices, games, school activities all being scheduled during major Jewish holidays.

You may be thinking these are not acts of antisemitism. And maybe you are correct. Or maybe it is the word and my using the word that is really bothering you. Calling it ignorance or a mistake does not change what it is. It is antisemitism. Antisemitism can look like no big deal to the outside world. People can call it a lack of tolerance for others. People can call it a million other things. They don't call it antisemitism because we tend to reserve that term for the evil with guns. The truth of the matter is we all have bias, and the sooner we admit it the sooner we can learn from it.

I do not believe the athletic associations, our schools, our children's friends are deeply seeded with antisemitism. But what I do believe is no one would ever schedule a school performance or athletic game during Ash Wednesday, Easter, or Christmas. We, the Jews, must continue to remind our community to respect our religion and respect our time to practice our religion - Year after year.

What does antisemitism not look like?
It is when your kindergarten teacher asks you if the holiday crafts are inclusive. It is when your third grade teachers tell you all religions are respected in their classrooms. It is when the music teacher includes not only Hanukkah songs, but Diwali in the upcoming holiday performance. It is when an entire team of teachers invites you into their classroom to teach others about your holiday. It is when the administrators in the school wish your children a happy new year in September.

When you acknowledge the difference, then accept the difference, that is when antisemitism ends.

Today I told my daughters now more than ever we still stand proud as Jews. We will continue to be different. We will continue to practice our faith loudly and proudly. We will continue to be exactly who we are and educate those around us. I told them now is not the time to cave and lose ourselves in what  is "normal." We will not put Christmas lights on our home, we will not celebrate Easter with egg hunts, and we will not pretend to be something we are not. We are Jewish. We are proud Jews. We will respect other religions and their traditions and pray the respect is returned.

We will continue to miss school for Jewish holidays. We will continue to educate the school district when the Jewish holidays are so school events are not scheduled on those days. We will continue to host holidays in our home and let the Shabbat candles shine light into a world that has become so dark. We will continue to invite our Jewish brothers and sisters and our non Jewish brothers and sisters to our home. We will continue to let the smell of latkes and brisket and matzah ball soup seep through our windows. We will continue to speak Yiddish words. We will continue to miss athletic games and practices during our holidays. We will continue to be Jewish.

We will be Jewish. We will be proud Jews. We will speak our truth, practice our religion, and do it with all the chutzpah G-d gave us because we will not fall. We will not quit. We will not die.

Judaism teaches acceptance. Judaism teaches you to love thy neighbor. Today and every day, I remind my daughters to make good choices. I pray the rest of the world begins to make good choices.

Thank you to my friends that changed their Facebook profile picture to stand with us. Thank you to the friends that texted me to see if we were okay. Thank you to my friends who said they were disgusted. We, too, are disgusted.

We are Jewish. We will prevail.