Monday, October 8, 2012

Through a Child's Eyes

We went away to Tekoa, to Savta Shira's family, for the final days of Succot.  I had no intention of attending the dancing Sunday night;  I thought that I would dress Raphaela, send her off with friends and get in that nap I so desperately needed.

Instead, Savta Shira insisted that I join them, and thus found myself in their synagogue, on Simchat Torah.  As the Universe would have it, I was also the first women to get the Torah from the men's side and dance at the center of the circle, one hand on the precious symbol of Judaism, the other hand holding Raphaela's.  The choice baffled many of the women in the room, and several of them came over to me during the event and introduced themselves, with the implicit question "Who the hell are you and how did you get to be the first one?", behind the niceties and the curiosity.  But I actually became emotional at that honor, and got caught up in the singing and the dancing, more than I have in years.

I also completely underestimated Raphaela's response to the evening.  A child who generally dislikes large crowds and noise, she sobbed in grief (with a stream of 'real tears') when I suggested at a certain point that we had to leave the dancing and go home for dinner.  In all her three years of life, I have never seen her so adamantly insist upon anything, and the thought of breaking her heart made me change my mind.

(Her resistance to leaving, crossing the threshold of the doorway, reminded me of one my favorite scenes from the movie, "Field of Dreams," with Doc and the hot dog and the white line on the base ball field...if you don't get my reference it's OK, it means something to me.)

The Jewish communal experience only got sweeter today, when she braved the men's section all by herself and discovered The Candy Man, who gave her a lollipop, a treat she never gets from me at home.  "I'm happy now, Mommy."  After the joyous aliyah to the Torah for the mass of children in the community, the synagogue had arranged for each child to receive a goody bag, similar and perhaps even nicer than one she might anticipate from a friend's birthday party.  Bamba, soft drink, chocolate wafers, hard candy; as a parent and as a Chiropractor, I can't say that I was thrilled with her 'lunch,' but as another woman said to me, "It's the holidays, just let it go."

After two friend birthday parties during Succot, her own mini birthday celebration at Savta Shira's house, and her upcoming party at Gan,  I have reached my tolerance for junk food, and had a hard time accepting that our primary protein the last few days has been chocolate cake.  (What?!  It has eggs, grains, possibly healthy oil and chocolate, which has been credited with many curative properties...)

Most of all, I learned from this weekend that Raphaela craves a warm and welcoming sense of community, and that I as the adult in the house must seek out that place that will grant her that gift.

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