Monday, October 01, 2007

Cheerios, Spongebob, and God

Almost a year ago, a Jewish family from Atlanta moved next door to us. Their kids were the same age and gender as our older two, and they loved hanging out in the cul de sac. The mom and I soon became good friends and chatted about everything from husbands to politics to religion and then some. I loved having a new friend right next door and I hoped I helped her feel a little less lonely after making a cross country move she didn't want to make. Sadly, we're no longer neighbors but we do remain friends.

One of the things we have in common is our religion. And although she's much more observant than I am (and feels way too guilty about way too much stuff), it's always nice not to have to explain things like holidays and traditions like to other folks. She just knows. She joined a temple within a week of moving here (9 years after moving, we have yet to do the same) and always invited me to accompany her to services and other events. We'd been to a couple of holiday things but never to services. Maybe it was residual Yom Kippur guilt, or the fact that Ray was going to be home late from work (again), but I decided to drag my kids to the Family Service with her and her kids a couple of Friday nights ago. I will not repeat this mistake again for a long, long time.

We get there and meet up with my friend and our other neighbor and her daughter and after chasing Brady around the grounds a bit, we file into the sanctuary where the boys grab their kippot and the older kids promptly march to the front row. It was interesting watching Ethan, who hasn't been inside a temple for a couple of years (for reasons which became very apparent in a few short moments). He had no idea what was going on but followed his friend, with Julia keeping an eye on him. We moms and Brady finally got seated a couple of rows behind the big kids and then the screaming started. That's right. Brady's current method of communication is to scream as loudly and ear-piercingly as possible. When he's feeling particularly verbal, he'll scream "Neh" to express his displeasure at the current situation. Otherwise, he'll just scream.

I scramble through my bag, grab a half-empty container of Cheerios, and get Bunch settled on my lap. For a few moments of bliss, he munched happily while I linked arms with my friends and sang some of the Friday night prayers. Pretty much at the same time as the Cheerios ran out, a tearful Ethan came back to my seat to inform me that "this place is dumb" and he was ready to go home. Crap.

From my diaper bag I pull out some giant Lego blocks for Bunch, a sheet of epoxy Spongebob stickers for Ethan and peace was temporarily restored again. As Ethan covered my arm with 20 or so different Spongebob faces then moved them one by one to my leg (who needs to go get waxed?), and Brady played with his Legos I once again got to enjoy the feeling of being in a temple on a Friday night for the first time in way too many years. The kids were actually quiet for 13 seconds until Ethan started going through my bag and found his toy hammer. Crap. First, he started banging on the epoxy Spongebob heads. Then he moved on to the chairs themselves. Then he continued with the potted plant next to our row of seats. By this time his friends in the front row had to come check out what all the noise and fun was about. And that's when Brady decided he wanted to play with the big kids too. Mind you, the service is going on this entire time.

The other kids were quickly shooed back to their seats by their mothers while Ethan, under threats on his very life, came back to his own seat where he sat on the floor and hammered the chair cushion. Brady, however, was completely done at this point and voiced his displeasure as loudly as possible, compelling the rabbi to remark on the strength of his lungs. And then my cell phone rang.

Mercifully, the service eventually ended and we headed over to the Sukkah to say the blessings over the wine and bread. My kids actually enjoyed that part, because it involved food. Just before we left to get our traditional Shabbat dinner of Wendy's drive-through, my friends actually had the audacity to ask when I was coming back.

It's interesting, attending services at 2 different temples within a week. You get a great urge to compare and contrast. Let's just say that this small, suburban congregation, with its almost makeshift bubble-like sanctuary and its rabbi and cantor combo who seem like they're auditioning for the next season of Last Comic Standing, falls short in a lot of ways to Valley Beth Shalom with its amazing rabbis, 1000+ member families and lovely facilities. But there was love, and caring, and friendship, and community here. There were smiles for my screaming baby and songs that captivated my daughter. And for me, there was the feeling that I was doing the right thing as a mom, even though it was hard, and stressful, and embarrassing. This feeling is hard to come by. I still don't plan on returning soon but I'm definitely glad I went.


OneScrappyChick said...

T- mom's are more understanding of board boys and screaming babies. Don't let that keep you away.

Kim - ScrapToMyLu said...

Oh I could feel your pain! Sounds like it was a great experience once it was over. :)
I'm sure the others were not annoyed as you thought. Kids are lifes energy. I'm glad you ended it with food and a bit of relaxing.

Anonymous said...

It's so difficult ... the church attending. One of my kids, Taylor, declares himself and agnostic, which, I guess, is fine, since he is 13 and is old enough to have ideas. Of course, that is his father's idea, but, I can't really argue it.

My daughter loves church, however, she really likes the Sunday School portion of it, which leaves me to face the proverbial music by myself. What music is that?

The never-ending questions of where I've been and what I've been doing. I just have a tough time and end up not wanting to go back for the wrong reasons ... the reasons that I should be going back?

Make any sense????


NikJustNik said...

I had a nice little giggly while reading this.. Your write so well I can actaully see the boys in the temple doing these things... I can almost see the look on your face too...Little people never know when the right time to be quiet is...the question is aside from all that kid stuff... Did you enjoy the service?? Was it something you might go to by yourself while leaving Ray with the kids?

Wild World of Scrap said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wild World of Scrap said...

(sorry to delete the other posts - a typo that made the sentence make no sense at all... LOL)

T I'm so glad you had a chance to go to Temple. It's amazing how you feel when you've been to worship isn't it? The sense of love you felt there seems quite compelling to me. That's how I feel at my little tiny church.

I'm glad you got to go and I'm equally as glad the rest of the congregation enjoy Brady's "singing". Julia is at an age where she'll just soak it all up. I'm just so happy for you that you got to go!

Mom's are way understanding and thank God for sweet little Rabbi's, Cantors and Priests that have nothing but love for the future (aka our noisy kids).

HUGS to you!