Thursday, March 23, 2023

The new upscale school of Mount Wealthmore had begun its first school year. The students absolutely loved school. There was no homework or tests, because that could trigger undue anxiety. Classes could not be longer than 20 minutes, because it could cause students to become jittery — which could impinge on their ability to focus. Students were dropped off by their live-in housekeepers, whenever they would wake up. In addition, every month, the student council met with the school administration to inform them of the results of the student vote as to how each teacher was performing. A 70% student disapproval rating was a sufficient vote to have the teacher fired.

Mount Wealthmore also formed a basketball team to compete in the local league, called the “Wealthmore Pampers.” No student was turned down from the team out of fear that it could hurt their self-esteem. For the same reason, all players had to be given equal playing time and the same number of passes throughout the game.

The school’s absolute no-bullying policy was strictly enforced on the court too. So, when Billy missed an easy layup and Harris screamed out “Oh man!” to no one in particular, he was promptly thrown-off the team and suspended for bullying.

If a player was not playing well Mr. Phillips — the coach — would privately call the boy over and strike up a conversation with him about how things were at home, where he was going for vacation and, then, gently slide in a playful comment which hinted to the suggestion that, perhaps, the player should agree to sit down for a few minutes.

Finally, after weeks of practice, in which each student was told how fantastic he was doing despite the results, it was time for their first game. They were slated to play against the “Inner-City Cavaliers.” The game was a disaster. Before the game even started, three of the Pampers ran off crying, because the Cavaliers players gave them dirty looks.

The Cavaliers starting five were tough and well-seasoned players, while the Pampers starting five were all sons of the members of the elite school board. By the end of the first quarter, the Cavaliers were up by 38 points. The Pampers had not yet scored a basket.

Most of the Pampers players were congregating around Mr. Philips, protesting that the other players were being mean to them. Mr. Philips was having a hard-enough time, before the players’ parents stormed onto the court and began threatening the referees that if the Pampers didn’t start winning, they would sue the league. The referees could hardly stifle their laughter.

In an ironic turn of events, the Pampers got the win. It seems that with two minutes left before half-time and the Cavaliers leading 73-0, the bored Cavaliers players walked off the court in utter disgust. The Pampers won by forfeiture!

It was the only game the Pampers ever played, because no team ever agreed to play them again.

More importantly the Pampers players — as well as the other students at Mount Wealthmore — learned a valuable lesson; that they were incapable of fending for themselves, and were too incompetent to deal with the challenges of life without their parents’ intervention.

The fast of Asara B’Teves commemorates the tragedy of the beginning of the siege of Yerushalayim, when the forces of Nebuchadnezzar surrounded the city, prior to the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash.

When surrounded on all sides and too coddled, one becomes too stifled to grow and produce. That holds true even if the surrounding is done well-meaningly, with utmost love and care.

Raising children requires faith and courage. Faith in the child’s ability and courage to allow the child to make their own choices!

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author. He is a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ, and an experienced therapist, recently returning to seeing clients in private practice, as part of the Rockland CBT group. For appointments Rabbi Staum can be reached at 914-295-0115. Looking for an inspirational and motivating speaker or scholar-in-residence? Contact Rabbi Staum for a unique speaking experience. Rabbi Staum can be reached at [email protected] Archives of his writings can be found at www.stamtorah.info.

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