Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Adar 5762 - March 6, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Pint-Sized Pearls of Wisdom
by KSR

As parents and teachers, we think of ourselves as being the givers and of children as the receivers. We teach them manners, language, life skills and good character traits. We rack our brains for ways to stimulate, inspire, and basically connect with our progeny and lead them in the life course we set out for them. We exert great efforts to turn our offspring into intelligent, well-behaved, kind-hearted members of society, imbued with G-d-fear and love for Torah.

Since beginning my career as a mother, I've noticed something different, something unexpected. Here I thought I was to be the teacher, and in fact, my children have taught me much more than any textbook could have.

R' Yisroel Salanter said that he learned three things from children: 1) Whenever they fall, they get right back up; 2) They keep crying until their parent answers them and 3) They're always happy, always occupied. I can add some other messages we adults can learn from these miniature people.

Recently, my eight-year-old daughter taught me the importance of silence, restraint, or rather, when silence is the most appropriate reaction. After coming home from her friend's house, she picked her hand up for me to see a cut in her thumb, next to the nail. She explained that her friend had accidentally closed a window on her finger and instead of lashing out, "Ouch! Why did you do that?" or some other attack, she just told her friend quietly that she got hurt, without letting her know that she had inflicted the injury. She explained to me, "I didn't want her to feel bad..." Do I always remain so composed and suppress my pain when someone steps on my toe or pushes me in line?

The epitome of R' Salanter's point about persistence, the forerunner of perseverance, is my two-year-old. He never ceases to amaze us. A couple of months ago, when his older siblings were doing somersaults, this curly, blond-haired cherub decided to give it a try. He placed his head on the mattress that serves as the family's gymnastics mat. PUSH and PLOP to the left. Again, PUSH and PLOP to the right. Again, PUSH and PLOP on his face. Again, and... and... WHAT? He did it? He did the somersault! And ever since then, he's been a pro.

More recently, he discovered 24-piece puzzles. Initially, I thought, Oh, no! He's going to be so frustrated trying that. It's way above him. But then I looked again and a quarter of the puzzle was done. With just a little help, he did it. And then another, and another.

Do I always stick to my goals? Do I often get discouraged when faced with failure?

If you ever need someone to help you brainstorm on making something out of nothing, you must meet my ten-year-old. He has ideas that would just never occur to me. Just as an example, he made himself a notepad, the kind where the papers are all stuck together at the top, attached to a red strip.

"How did you do that?" I asked him. He explained that he cut papers out to a certain size, glued them all together at the top, waited for the glue to dry and then colored it red. When I asked where he got the idea, he said that his rebbe has a pad like that, so he decided to make one himself. I asked him to make one for me too, for writing down my shopping lists. He did it and even added a magnet onto the back so I can keep it on the fridge.

Do I always open my mind to possible solutions? Do I always tap into my creativity?

Giving in is a trait we all need throughout our lives. My 4 1/2 year old serves as good model for this. If someone wants to sit on his chair, he generally lets them. When a sibling wants to use his toy or tricycle or color in the picture he just brought home from cheider, he hands it over. If someone wants some of his treat, he'll gladly give them a little. He's not just a pushover; sometimes he says `no.' But so often, he gives in or simply gives, and with a smile, apparently enjoying it. Then he tells me, "I did a big mitzva now, didn't I?"

Do I always give in when I should? Are there times when I should give more generously and happily?

Even our six-month-old has taught me an important lesson in life: forgiveness. If amidst the hubbub, it takes me a minute to get to him when he cries and wants to be fed, as soon as I pick him up, he gives me one of those toothless, ear-to-ear grins, as if to say, "It's O.K., Mommy. I know you came as fast as you could, and now you're here." Or if a sibling tickles him a little too hard, he doesn't hold a grudge. He lets that child hold him again right away.

Do I always forgive slights so quickly? Do I let go of hard feelings immediately?

These are just examples of the many lessons my children have taught me. Maybe if we keep a lookout for these messages in our child-raising and put less effort into faultfinding, we'll create a more positive attitude in ourselves, in our children and in our homes.


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