Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Kislev 5761 - November 29, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
The Most, the Biggest and the Best
by Bruchie Laufer

If a bench could talk, then the red one in the park would probably have lifetime tenure at some prestigious seminary. The amount of conversations that this bench has been quietely absorbing over the years surely makes it highly knowledgeable. Situated strategically under a shady tree, it's non-resistable to anyone visiting the park. Moms with their children, babysitters with their charges, seminary students with their finals all make a beeline for this one.

Today, this bench was all ears to a group of four mothers. Special mothers. To our bench, it soon became apparent that though they had to deal with non-mainstream children, they didn't all relate to the issue in the same manner.

Yehoshua, a sweet boy, was LD and dyslexic. Mindel, his mother, was convinced that by not acknowledging the problem, she was doing her son a favor as he would have a greater chance to overcome his disabilities over the years, and by the time he needed a shidduch, all would be fine.

"My Yehoshua is definitely the upcoming posek hador." Mindel was convinced that nothing would stop Yehoshua from growing up the same way the rest of his siblings were expected to.

Breindel was perturbed by this. "Don't you think your expectations are a bit too high, unrealisitic? Wouldn't he feel like a total failure if he didn't get smicha? Assuming that he knows what you expect of him?"

"I appreciate what you're saying, Breindel," Nechama put in her own two cents worth in a thoughtful tone. "I can't assume that my Baila will be able to draw as well as her older sister, even though I think the world of her and love her as dearly."

Baila was a sweet, intelligent girl born with a defect that made her hands very stiff. While children her age spent their mornings at their desks in school, she was busy with occupational therapists. She had special tutors who came in the afternoon to keep her abreast of the learning level of the Bais Yaakov curriculum.

"Baila will be successful in many areas of life, I hope, but drawing will probably not be one of her strong points," Nechama confided pragmatically.

"I know about your Baila, but Yehoshua is different. I think he's just lazier than most children," Mindel answered sharply.

"What do you mean `lazy'?" Sara's voice was shrill. She was seething at Mindel's arrogance. Years ago, that's what they used to call children with problems. But nowadays, it was recognized that no child chooses not to succeed, rather, it is a neurological problem, minor or major, that interferes with the learning process.

"How could you call Yehoshua lazy?" Tears glistened in Sara's eyes. She loved children of all ages and sizes, and truly believed in each of them. Each child is like a growing plant. No one expects geraniums to grow as fast and as tall as sun flowers. But all she said was, "Each child strives to forge ahead and succeed, even if it is not so obvious to everyone." Sara had her personal experience with the individual growth process. Tamar, her fourth child, was a Downs Syndrome child, and it had taken a lot of patience for Tamar to reach her present stage of development.

"Listen, I'm his mother. Trust me. I know what I'm saying." "Hello, everybody! How are y'all?" Leah, wheeling her Yitzy in his oversized stroller, breezed by the bench and greeted her friends, then turned her attention back to her son.

"O.K., Yitzy, I'll park you over there so that you can be near all the children, like you wanted."

Beaming her ever-present smile, she headed for the sand box.

Baila came along and asked if she could hand out cookies to everyone. Nechama turned to her friends. "Baila helped me make these yesterday. She worked very hard."

"Mmmmm! Wonderful, Baila! They're delicious!" Mindel said between bites.

"Let me peek into that bag, Baila. All those different shapes! And so many cookies! They're beautiful!" Sara knew that Nechama baked with Baila to give her practice using her hands.

After exchanging cookie recipes, handing out drinks, sandwiches and carrot sticks, mothers and children were ready to call it a day.

Children and toys gravitated to their respective Mommies and families headed for home. As they turned into their pathway, Yehoshua asked Mindel, "Mommy, is Yitzy a lazy boy?" Mindel looked at him disbelievingly. "Why would you think so?"

"Because he doesn't walk. He sits in the stroller all the time. Is he lazy?"

Mindel nearly bit her tongue in shock! "Oh, no! Yitzy can't walk because his legs are not strong enough to hold him."

"You mean that he wants to walk like everyone else, but he can't?" asked Yehoshua. "But don't you always say that everyone can do anything they want, if they really try hard enough?"

Mindel felt a rude awakening and found it difficult to formulate her answer. Haltingly, she explained, "No, honey. Yitzy will never be able to walk around without help of some kind, no matter how badly he really wants to."

"So Yitzy is not lazy? It's just too hard for him?"

"That's right." It was a pensive Mindel who put the children to sleep that night. Her conscience was heavy with guilt. She hadn't empathized with Yehoshua and his difficulties. She could imagine a disaster scene as Yitzy's mother where, instead of wheeling him patiently in his stroller, she kept scolding him for being lazy! Tears streaming down her face, she ran into the bedroom and asked Hashem for forgiveness. She resolved to be more compassionate with handicapped people, and children, and be more gentle and understanding with Yehoshua.

Why not call Sara now and discuss this revelation with her? It was Sara who had taken exception of her attitude in the park.

Sara was pleasantly surprised at the call and suggested, "Could you come over, Mindel? I'd like to show you something."

The heavenly smell of freshly baked bread pervaded her entire being as she stepped into Sara's home. She entered the kitchen to find the entire table coverd with challos in all shapes and sizes. "Wow! They're gorgeous! That big one over there is really outstanding!"

"Look at the small ones, too, Mindel. These are my successful ones. They don't make the same impression but that's because they're made from smaller chunks of dough. But they did rise double their original size. And you know, it's the same with children. The ones that rise to the top of their class are gifted, they have a head start and begin with much more. And they don't even work as hard for their achievements. Our learning disabled or handicapped children, however, are our bigger successes. They're the ones who had to overcome major obstacles to be what they are. And in the long run, they will have had much more exercise in perfecting their middos in the process of growing up than the normal child, whose path is so much smoother."

Mindel took a deep breath and nodded wisely.


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