Okay mamalas, in our continuing course on question we Jews, so prolific with the questions, shouldn’t ask, we have thus far completed What Not to Ask Your Date, and What Not To Ask Your Mate. From these, my hope is you’ve learned a little something. And, God willing, perhaps those who were on their way to breeding cats, may have instead, found a life partner; and those who found one, have now a chance of keeping him or her past the breaking of the glass.
“If Avi stuck a fire cracker up his nose would you do it too?” Sadly the answer is always yes.
Today, we turn our attention to the kinder! After all, is this not what we parents live for? To make sure we have mourners? (And of course leave a legacy). Once again, you will be called upon to curb your natural gift for questions. First, they won’t appreciate the fact that your queries only come from love, and second, they wouldn’t answer anyway.
From birth to about two, they’re yours, mamalas. True, they’ll spill, make messes with PlayDoh, maybe eat it, play with the potty, but your loving questions are necessary to make sure little David and Sarah: a) are given a proper basis for your later questions; b) won’t be left back in pre-school. Enjoy this time. It will be the last you’ll be able to “ask” them anything, without needing Tums.
GENERAL RULE: Of course it is our job as good Jewish parents to instill in them the proper values, character traits, and behavior. However, as children are easily embarrassed, and affected by all that “peer group” craziness, we have to use extreme sensitivity in the asking, especially in public.
So, here are six questions you should never ask your children during the Early Years.
1. “Doesn’t he look like Logan Lerman in those pants?!” (Out loud in the Mall.)
Of course he does – or will, in eight years when he grows into them. But getting other shoppers to agree will annoy rather than encourage your 11-year-old.
2. “How about pound cake to tide you over till dinner?”
The world now knows what Jewish parents have known for centuries. At least four or five small meals a day not only shows our love, but is healthy! However, some Jewish children, once they hit the age for serious socializing seem to feel they’ve retained some “baby fat” -- and blame us. Therefore, we must struggle with the eternal question: “What is a ‘small?’ meal for which they’ll be grateful for later?” Change your wording as follows: “Mamala, how about a sliver of pound cake? A taste chopped liver? If your child resists, ask him to “sample” what you’ve made. Then proceed to serve him a double portion. NOTE: Other useful words: “Morsel,” “bite,” “smidgen.”
3. “Bubbela, can you show Aunt Rivka how you can say ‘Hello’ in Hebrew?” (To your three-year-old, while you sister’s holding on from Tel Aviv.)
Oy, I know, darlings. The little cutie says “Shalom” like a meshugge parrot when he’s trying to avoid bedtime. Ask him to say it, however, and you’ll not only get bupkes, but your furious sister will no doubt tell the entire family in Israel that he’s Learning-Challenged. Better to wait until bed time, and secretly tape him with your i-Phone video recorder repeating this word tirelessly while dancing a kazatzke. Note: Ignore those good for nothings who text you articles on the Emotionally-Challenged.
4- “How could you lose a whole tuba?” (Or anything from mittens to a piano.)
If, you ask such a question, chances are your precious little David will offer up a blank stare and or inquire, “What tuba?” I suggest, as with his backpack, proper lunch pail, your folder of notes to the teacher, along with the necessary “just in case” items such as rubbers, snowsuits, sun block, and an umbrella, you attach any extras, like musical instruments, to all children’s jackets. You can use a fancy decorative rope so your little one will be constantly reminded of his eternal connection to you.
5- “And if Avi stuck a fire cracker up his nose would you do it too?”
Yes, darlings, he would. Brilliant they may be, but like Einstein, until 40, they’re sheep. So yes, he would stick a marble, a toy car, or yes, even a fire cracker up his nose no matter how much you hock about deviated septums. Therefore, it is your job as parents not to trust your child in any group where you or someone you trust is not present. This, of course, may cause conflict, so I suggest you become a capable camouflager. One example might be memorizing the foliage along his route, then following at a distance of about 15 yards. Should he sense your presence, dodge behind a bush, and boom your message, adding, “If Moses listened, why shouldn’t you? Do you think you’re better than him?!”
6- “Do you want to kill yourself!?” This is a critical generic question that we parents know is vital should your child wish to: a) play sports in the park; b) go out after sundown; c) eat chazzerai. And these are just for starters. However, your child will, of course, argue that you’re over-reacting. Much better to prove it. Steep yourself in “what could happen.” Casually mention how his great-uncle skinned his knee playing stickball in 1936, which led to a knee replacement when he was 70. Hang photos of cousin Myra on the fridge who ate chazzerai, weighed 400 pounds and never married. And finally, talk about the young Israelites who left the neighborhood after dark and were forced to fight lions. OK, true, this was thousands of years ago, but people don’t change.
Should you feel any of the above about to emerge, stick a sour ball in your mouth and call me in the morning.