The Mind Body Connection

3f853a9483b411e2b7ea22000a1f9366_7The dichotomy between my four year old’s intellectual abilities and his, well, four-year-oldness never ceases to amaze me. The same child who routinely asks me questions that confound if not downright flummox me is still a tantrum-throwing, paci-sucking, brother-hitting, mother-ignoring four year old.

Well, not anymore.

I mean he still throws tantrums, attack his brother (and embarrassingly  sometimes me), and often fails to heed my commands. But as of his fourth birthday four days ago, he no longer sucks a paci.

baby pacifier

Aryeh & his Paci circa 2009

I know, I know, what’s my problem. The books say throw it out at one or maybe two. But he was so addicted and it was so calming and it was just for bedtime and and and. Plus we were going to do it at three but toilet training was the main focus right then and multi-tasking didn’t seem wise at that juncture.

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Taking Paci Inventory Fall 2011

So there we were, in toys r us, with bags bulging with playmobil and enough plastic animals to charge admission to our living room zoo, standing at the long-awaited garbage pail, its tentacles at the ready. And he did it. Well, he asked me to do it for him but I made him take the plunge.


Aryeh and his nighttime companions

The days months leading up to the great paci-trashing were more anxiety-ridden for my husband and I than for Aryeh. We talked about it with him, prepared him, built up the great toy-exchange, and waxed poetic about the joys of growing up. He wasn’t thrilled but he seemed to take it in stride.

Plus, someone with the mental acuity to regular challenge me with the goings-on of his mind can definitely handle an empty mouth at bedtime.

Well, we’ve survived four nights. But that surreal duality that defines him has been at its peak this weekend.

He asked me if we’ll live in the same apt we rented this fall in Israel when Moshiach comes and whether he could take his farm puzzle along when we leave to Israel with Moshiach. (Mind you it was the dollar store farm puzzle he requested and not his new Playmobil set that’s worth its weight in gold).

He wanted to know where G-d is and if he can fall since if he’s everywhere he’s also on the roof, which is quite a precarious place to balance.

He asked who were the parents of the first people G-d created, and when I said that G-d created them without parents he wanted to know who took care of them when they were babies.

Advanced, huh?

Not so much.

I got him to sleep surrounded by his menagerie, albeit hours after his bedtime, by patting his back repeatedly to the same beat I did four long years ago when my newborn couldn’t fall asleep on his own. Pat, pat, pat. Pat, pat, pat. I thought his eyes would never close.

So did his brother, whose new words of the day were pat meeeeee.

If only his mouth could catch up to his mind, we could all get some rest.

Uh oh, he just woke up. At least he’s sleeping longer stretches than he did back then.

Otherwise I’d be looking forward to a loooong night of pat pat pat. And we wouldn’t even be able to talk about it in the morning.

Of Bedtime, Death, and Elephants

Reading bedtime stories usually involves an average of 4-6 interruptions per page. Before bed tonight, Aryeh picked his animal encyclopedia. We were reading about elephants when I read “if an elephant’s trunk is damaged or broken, it will die.” I tried to continue but Aryeh wasn’t going to let this pass.

“And people can get dead if a robber comes,” he stated.

I explained that robbers take people’s things and money without permission, which is very bad, but they aren’t after making people dead. Simplified version of reality, but I figured age appropriate.

“Well then how do people get dead?” he wanted to know.

spring summer 12 615I should’ve had this one at the ready. Caught on the spot, I told him people get dead when they get very old or if they get sick with a very bad sickness.

He ignored the sickness thing thank G-d but wanted to understand the other option.

“Do grown ups get old even though they’re already grown up?” he wanted to know.

I told him yes, but not for a long, long time.

He looked apprehensive and then like he’d had an epiphany.

“Then all the kids will be grown up then?” he asked.

Yes I told him, when the grown ups get old, the kids will be grown ups.

“Oh,” he said, visibly appeased. “Well then they won’t need their Mommy and Daddy anymore.”

Hmmmmm….Not sure of a response, I just let that one go.

He sat there with that wise look on his face that he’s had since the nurses first spring summer 12 631handed him to me four long years ago.


I figured he might be wondering what dead actually means, seeing as his only contact with the concepts is through the bugs he sometimes stamps on.

“When people are dead they get to go and stay with Hashem,” I told him.

Silence. He looked thoughtful.

I figured I should let him clear his mind of the subject before he lay in bed letting his imagination run wild.

“Do you have any other questions?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he answered.

Uh oh.

He pointed to the book.

“What is that elephant doing with his trunk?”


For Sale

IMAG0199I can’t seem to decide what’s cuter, the surprising epiphanies and questions of a precocious almost- four-year-old or the hysterical pronunciations and crazy hypothesis of a learning-to-speak two year old.

We often wonder what (if anything) is going on in the mind of little kids and when they first start to talk and give us a glimpse into their world, it’s not always what we expect.

Yaakov has been cracking me up at around 30 minute intervals with his language arts this weekend. When I mentioned on the phone to my husband that I had gone to yoga this morning, he kept pulling on something behind the couch and saying oya map oya map until I figured out he wanted the yoga mat.


Understanding him can be difficult since most words start with a v or y and it’s left to you to decipher the true first syllable. Read and walk are vead and valk; throw is yo, aryeh is yayay, powder is yowda. Shanis is yanni, crib is yib. Snow is no. Yes is yo. You get the drift. And he keeps repeating words, smiling shyly at your attempts at comprehension, not giving up or getting frustrated until you correctly repeat it back to him.

There are a couple words even a stranger can understand, but not too many. 

IMAG0233Two of his clearer ones are, strangely enough, buy and money. This from the child who at eight months would start panting when I opened my wallet. Now, he points to everything and anything in the store and insists Buy Buy.

A few weeks ago he was home sick during a conference call I was having and kept repeating loudly for all my coworkers to hear Money Money. No distraction helped, he kept repeating the mantra, maybe reminding them what I was doing my work for. Money, money.



Like a true businessman, my money-obsessed two year old does not think there is anything that can not (or should not) be bought. A few weeks ago his brother got a new hat (one he actually agreed to wear after around a dozen previous attempts) and Yaakov was greatly distressed that he was stuck with his “old” (as in two months old) one.

In an effort to illustrate his desire for a new one, he left the kitchen, coming back several moments later followed by a dragging noise. Behind him was the garbage pail from his room with his hat (and a half dozen diapers) inside. He pointed to it and said gaja (garbage) buy, buy. He figured if he threw the old one out I’d surely buy him a new one.

Last week he found my credit card on the table and walked around with it proudly, announcing Buy Buy. I’ve never seen him prouder.

But his buying obsession reached a new low high this afternoon when my friend Chana was leaving us after spending the weekend here.

Yana stay, Yaakov told me.

No Chana has to go, I explained.

IMAG0186No Yana stay, he insisted.

But she has to go back to her house, I said.

This did not stump my little entrepeneur.

Buy Yanna, he insisted triumphantly, Buy Yanna.

I guess it’ll be a while until he figures out what is and isn’t for sale.

The Moments In Between

It’s seven six forty five am and Aryeh’s at the foot of my bed whining.

“Come play with me,” he entreats the inert lump under the covers, which he correctly assumes is me. Doesn’t he know an object at rest stays at rest? Or the sacredness of Mom’s Day Off of Work?

I beg, cajole, bribe, and insist but he’s just as stubborn as me and has age on his side.

“At least watch me play,” he begs. Eventually, I grumpily cave, leaving my warm cocoon for the jungle.

spring summer 12 017

It’s seven PM Yaakov is on his sixth eighth tenth tantrum of the day, this time because he wan

ts a water bottle he will never finish and no one else will be allowed near due to his waterfall of a cold.

I insist he can drink from a cup and that he should just stop this tantruming once and for all and doesn’t he want to go to sleep calm and relaxed. Enter dad who does a quick one over, opens the bottle, and hands it to a wide-eyed

Yaakov, who proceeds to guzzle joyously.

Book time over, lights out, the day’s finally over. Until Aryeh realizes he’s been jipped and throws a massive tantrum of his own, over the unfairness of only being allowed to drink water before bed. The tantrum goes on for a full fifteen minutes, replete with hiccups, breath-catching, and heart breaking wails.

The day’s ended almost as disastrously as it began.

The only thing that keeps me sane, that keeps me going, in those long hours between the day’s first seven and it’s last, are these moments in between.

Like the one when 29 lb Aryeh starts reading 31 lb Yaakov a book and Yaakov keeps insisting “brudder lat, brudder lat.” (translation: brother, lap). They tried. It didn’t work. But man was that funny.

Or when the ever inquisitive Aryeh asked me if all Tottys have freckles and all ImageMommys don’t.

Or when I tried reading Aryeh a book and told Yaakov we could play his game after it was over and my barely talking not even two year old turned the cover over and said “da end.”

And when Aryeh solemnly asked me if the smell in the car might be from the bag on the seat since “it looks like there’s a dead grey cat tied up in there.”

Or when he lifted an item that shall not be named but which I wear daily and asked if I still used it since I didn’t have a baby anymore and if I used to keep him in it too or just his brother.


Or when Yaakov brought me the milk to pour him some and I told him to bring the open one and he took my hand and led me to the fridge to show me that none were open- they all had their covers on.

Yes, I do end most days feeling like I’m losing my mind. And I start them wishing I could postpone the morning just a little bit (or a lot). And I’ll even admit to nearly collapsing, exploding, and/or giving up around fifteen three hundred times a day.

But at least I have those moments in between. Those are the moments that keep me alive.

spring summer 12 061Until they’re fast asleep, and I can walk in, adjust their covers, and pretend their angelic faces stay that way in the daytime.

Until they do, I thank G-d for my moments.

Is Noach Kosher?

It started innocently enough. The first Christmas catalog unceremoniously landed on the floor through the mail slot just days after my animal-loving child learned about Noah and his ark. I don’t know what caused him to make the association, but he didn’t state it questioningly or even hesitantly.

Pointing to the cover photo of Santa, in his finest red suit and full regalia, Aryeh said, “Hey Mommy, there’s Noach.”

Never a fan of bursting the bubble of innocence, I just smiled, thinking it would blow over. And no, this story will not end with us following the mistaken identity to a mall photo on Santa’s lap. But on that afternoon, with Santa on the cover of a glossy gift catalog, Aryeh was certain.

The reindeer only reinforced his certainty.

“Look, there’s some of the animals from the Tayva.”

The toys in the catalog were for Noach’s children. The clothing were for his wife and kids. The food was since they couldn’t go shopping what with the flooding and all. Nothing could put a damper on his certainty. Not one item in the catalog went without explanation of why it was needed in an ark of animals and people separated from the world by endless chasms of water.

But back to our Christmas story.

We avoided Santa at all coImagests, not wanting to feed the fantasy any more than we wanted to elucidate it. When he saw a Santa balloon and shouted, “There’s Noach!,” we just smiled. When he gravitated toward the center of the mall Santa set up, we kept him in the back, near the reindeer, sleigh and gifts.

But things came to a head yesterday when my husband took the two boys to Barnes & Noble. He got them each a drink, and then of course they wanted cookies.

Pointing at one, and then another, Aryeh demanded, “Is that one Kosher?” “How about that one?”

Disappointed at his lack of Options (Aryeh lives for options), he pointed to a three inch high, chocolate covered, full-bellied, widely grinning Santa cookie, and demanded, “Well, is Noach kosher?”

Try explaining that one in Sunday school.


He crawls away from me, half naked, those pudgy thighs following the command of the rapidly moving wrists, giggling uproariously as he escapes the donning of the diaper.  I catch him and he wails as though the world has come to an end as I pin him down for a few seconds of diaper clasping.  If we’re anywhere but at home there’s usually someone calling out to check if he’s okay, concerned at his inconsolable cries.

A moment later, he’s on the other side of the room, bouncing on the floor, arms outreached toward me, his two tiny baby teeth glinting as he grins and begs me to lift him in my arms.

But forget all that, and just listen to that giggle. G-d, I love that giggle. His brother and I sometimes join him, neither of us quite sure why we’re laughing, just knowing that nothing in the world could be as joyful as just sitting there, laughing with this little ball of red headed joy.

He’s one today, my round-cheeked, blue eyed, soft-haired, squeezable baby, and I’m still not sure how that happened. It was just moments ago that I had him all swaddled in a blanket and Aryeh was asking if he could hold him on his lap.

Now he throws massive tantrums when he’s insulted or being, gasp, dressed. His eyes fill with big wet tears and he throws his arms and legs up and down, wailing with wreckless abandon. And we can’t help but laugh.

Oh, the joy of being second. When his brother threw tantrums, we sat there in consternation, trying to figure out how to get the hollering to stop. I’m sure we’ll get there with Kovie too but for now, it’s hard to stifle a smile at this intense little human being flailing, shouting, and then moments later grinning wider than the sun’s rays.

He hasn’t taken his first step yet and I’m hoping he doesn’t have any immediate plans to. His cousin ten days his junior is traipsing around, my friend’s baby three weeks younger has been walking for months.

But I’m not ready yet.

I know he’s still get away, still want to be picked up, still giggle, when he takes his first step. But somehow, he’ll be less of a baby. He’ll be moving on. And I need to hold onto his babyhood just a little more.

I’m sure when he does take his first step I’ll be right there cheering him on. But for now, as he totters and plops, never standing for more than a couple tentative seconds, I’m embarrassed at how much I want things to stay like this, just a little longer.

Twenty three pounds of willful baby on my hip trying to jump into the snow.

No shoes allowed.

Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise

There’s a malady married women of childbearing age seem to be unable to escape. I call it pregnancy suspicion. If you’re a frum woman between 17 and 47 and are married, you’re a suspect. The most mundane statements can and will be used against you. It doesn’t matter if you’re cradling a newborn or flaunting a tshirt saying “I tied my tubes.” You’re married, you’re eligible, you’re a suspect.

When I was single I used to crave donuts in peace. Now? You wish? The past few days I’ve been craving cinnamon buns, and while, no, I’m not pregnant, there are at least a half dozen people convinced I am.


If you’re nauseous, it’s morning sickness, no matter if you’re clutching your seat during turbulence as the plane flips 45 degrees and the man next to you hurls into a bag. If you want ice cream, you’re having cravings. If you have heartburn, there’s a hairy baby growing inside you. Tired? Must be the baby, zapping your energy. And don’t you dare, ever, ever, sport even the tiniest belly. If you do, you’re hopeless. Might as well start up the rumor mill yourself.

Of course, when you actually are pregnant, and announce that to your friends and family, they will all say they already knew. It was obvious. You once told me you were hungry. Or that your daughter’s vomit made you nauseous. Gosh, can’t you hide it better? It was so obvious.

Which it was. And always is. Whether or not you’re actually with child.

I assume some people get good at never expressing any feelings that could be construed as pregnancy. I’m not that talented. On Saturday night in front of (gasp) my brother in law and sister in law, I said I was nauseous. I do not actually remember saying this. But my husband told me there was a look, a glance, from his brother to him. An unmistakable question mark. Is she?

I think next time I have heartburn I’ll keep it to myself. But I still think I deserve the right to crave a cinnamon bun in peace.

Even if I’m not pregnant.