April 18, 2024
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April 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Pesach is over, and it’s time to start getting your kids back out to school. Or they can get themselves out. They should know how by now; they’ve been going to school all year. To learn things.

My wife and I keep trying to train the kids to get ready by themselves, because it’s a good life skill to have. Many of our kids are above the age that I was when I started getting myself ready, though it’s possible I started too young. For a while I was making my own sandwiches and leaving the knives out, but then my mother started reprimanding me for leaving dirty knives on the counter, so I started leaving the handles on the counter and the dirty blades jutting out over the sink, which was probably terrifying for anybody who wanted to wash their hands in the morning. Especially if I’d made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a roll that I had to cut open first, and there was a row of three knives lining the sink, one of them a bread knife.

But then at some point I stopped making myself lunch altogether, though what I would do, so my parents wouldn’t bother me about it, was that I would throw a knife into the sink so my parents could look in the sink and say, “Ok, he made himself a sandwich.” Until the day my mother asked me, point blank, why I kept leaving clean knives in the sink.

I don’t know what some of my kids take for lunch either. They’re not even leaving knives in the sink. I’m like, “What did you have for lunch?”

“A bag of cereal.”

“Oh. Then what do you take for breakfast?”

Also, I have no idea exactly when the kids wake up, because I’m not actually up then. Sometimes they get up shortly after I go to sleep for the night. So they have plenty of time for the trial and error of making themselves lunch. They have three or four hours to figure out how to put cereal in a bag. Though mostly they miss.

My wife and I don’t get up until we have to. But I do know that sometimes we’re woken up at six in the morning by a kid trying to ask us about socks or something, and my wife mumbles a response into her pillow and the kid leaves and I’m left not being entirely sure it wasn’t part of a dream. But not a good dream.

They come over to me when they think we’re out of food. Apparently, I’m in charge of food, and my wife’s in charge of clothing. It works out that way because if I were in charge of clothing, everyone would be wearing one size too small, and if my wife were in charge of food, there would be no nosh in the house. When they say, “Mommy, there’s no nosh,” she says, “Good.” When they say, “Totty, we have no clothes,” I say, “What about what you’re wearing now?”

“This is pajamas.”

“Oh. I haven’t opened my eyes.”

They’ve also learned that if they ask me if they can have certain foods when I’m tired enough, I’ll just say, “Yeah,” to get them to leave the room.

“Totty, can I have gum for lunch?”

“Yeah. Just get out.”

“Could I take yogurt?”

“No, it’s in a big container.”

“Can I take it in a sandwich bag?”

“Do what you want. You’ve maxed out the number of questions you can ask me.”

But mostly, they fight over clothes. We have all our boys in one room, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but all their clothes look basically the same because their school has a dress code. (For example, no pajamas.)

For a while, my wife would lay out clothes the night before, which is something experts recommend for taking some of the stress off the mornings and putting it onto the night before. But then the kids would forget about them and pick out other clothes the next morning. I have a kid who takes out every item of clothes he owns every morning and picks whatever’s at the back of his drawer. I have another kid who specifically likes wearing pants that have kneeholes. I don’t know why. Maybe he keeps those pants because it’s easier to kiss his tzitzis.

And a lot of times, I make the kids lunches at night that they then proceed to forget to take in the morning. I have a son who says, “Why don’t you bring me lunch in school? Everyone’s parents bring them lunch in school.”

Yes, everyone’s parents. No one works.

I actually brought him lunch one time when he had throat issues because I wanted him to have something hot to drink, and I got there during lunch and ran into no one’s parents.

Also, every day I come home from carpool and find someone’s folder or textbook sitting on the floor under where the knapsacks were, and I don’t drive that to school either. If I bring them their textbook every time, how will they learn? On the other hand, if I don’t bring them their textbook, how will they learn? But I’m going for more of a long-term solution.

Not that it’s a huge deal to drive back to the school, but it’s not like dropping off kids. I can’t just stop at the curb and tell the folder to go in.

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, among other papers. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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