My daughter and two nieces all have bat mitzvahs coming up this year. We have decided to celebrate them all together as a family. In preparation of the momentous occasion, the girls are learning together in 3 separate pairs. This way they each get a chance to learn and connect with each of their cousins and we don’t have the chaos of all three of them on the phone at the same time (we all live in different cities). As I have the most “free” time and head space, I am honoured to be the designated co-ordinator of this beautiful program.
One of the pairs is learning about tefilla; another about Jewish women throughout history; and the third about Miriam and Shemirat HaLashon (purity of speech). In general, I would say that I am pretty good at refraining from speaking about others. This week, though, I succumbed.
My adventure began when I left home to pick up my daughter to take her for her orthodontist appointment. We arrived at the designated parking garage only to find the door closed, and not opening. With a sigh, we set off to find our own parking spot. 15 minutes later, we found one. Good thing we were early for the appointment! Now, we would be on time. It turned out not to matter as we waited 35 minutes after our appointment time anyway. I had scheduled this appointment so that I would have ample time for the 30 minute appointment and to get to my after school carpool for 4:30pm (a 20 minute drive away). So the plan was 3:15pm appointment; 3:45, or even 4 o’clock departure, pick up my older son at home so he could accompany my middle son from school (that’s the carpool) to dinner and soccer while I delivered the rest of the carpool; and, finally, the 4:30 carpool.
When they took my daughter in at 3:50, I started to rethink the plan. I called my older son and asked him to gather the soccer things and walk over to met us at the car so that we could leave as soon as the appointment was finished. My son met us but was not able to find his brother’s soccer uniform. No matter. We dashed off to pick up the kids. When we got to school, my kindergarten passenger was distraught (happens when I am 20 minutes late). I got her on the phone to her mother, sent my boys off to dinner and soccer, loaded everyone else back into the car and set off for the 20 minute drive back to our neighbourhood. We dropped off the carpool kids, dropped my daughter back at school (oh, did I forget to mention that she had an after-school swim program she really, really wanted to attend?), raced home, took the baby out of the car, ran around the house locating the soccer uniform and headed back to the school neighbourhood (20 minutes away) to deliver said uniform. Back to our neighbourhood to retrieve my daughter from her program, home to drop off daughter and baby, back to soccer to bring home the boys, back to our neighbourhood to pick up my other daughter who had been studying at a friend’s house, and, finally home. 5 hours after the adventure began.
I was exhausted and frustrated with myself, my disorganization, and my lacking of planning that created this ridiculous situation. As I walked into the house in the early evening, I met my neighbour. We exchanged our how-are-yous and chatted about our days. While I did express my exhaustion, I also expressed my opinion of a mutual acquaintance. hmmm…
Ironic that I am immersed in this topic of Shemirat HaLashon with the bas mitzvah girls and yet was not able to translate the knowledge to a real life situation. The truth is that when we are feeling tired, overwhelmed, unwell, … it is harder to do the right thing. Herein lies the challenge and the true test of character.
I am constantly reminding my kids that while we feel for them when they are tired, etc., it does not excuse inappropriate behaviour. This is a perfect example of changing my own behaviour as a parent in order to see changes in my children’s behaviour.
The bottom line is that we need many, many, many real life, practical and aware applications of our knowledge before it magically and effortlessly translates into action.
I value this wake up call and will keep on practicing.