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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Exploding Toilets

Just kidding.

There are no exploding toilets in this post. I was going to call this one "Light Blogging" but for some reason that brought to mind "Light Rock--always on at work!" and I fell asleep three times while I typed the title in.

So yeah, blogging's been a little light lately, not because I have nothing to say (when has that ever stopped me) but because I've been very busy at work and at home and preparing for various musical adventures and most especially Curly's upcoming Bar Mitzvah this week.

This is my fourth Bar Mitzvah (including my own) so I don't stress over them anymore. It's really quite nice that I live in a community that pish-poshes extravagant parties and keeps the shenanigans to a minimum. So we're just doing a kiddush in the shul and some meals for the out of town guests and family (just because we can't fit them all in my dining room).

I actually much prefer this to the "royal wedding" approach that seems to be en vogue on the East Coast (my Bar Mitzvah "reception" was at Great Neck Synagogue and we had a disco orchestra and a shmorg with veal scallopini [mmm.....veal scallopini....] and a candle lighting ceremony and I danced the Hustle with my sister while I wore a white three-piece tuxedo that would have made John Travolta jealous, and if you're very good one day I will scan in a picture).

To me, the main purpose of the Bar Mitzvah is to get the kid ready to participate in Jewish services as an adult. So over the past year I've worked with him on finding a teacher for layning, then listening and being unbelievably critical of his performance, buying tfillin and a black hat, working on the speech, etc.

There are those around here who are not only into pish-poshing the affair, they are now preparing to pish-posh the layning too. They say that not everyone is cut out to layn and it puts an unfair pressure on the kid, particularly the one who is not ready to be embarrassed in front of the whole congregation and especially his grandmother and why don't we make it optional or have him layn but not on his Bar Mitzvah and blah blah blah. I could make a whole post out of that, but let me just say I think it's a bunch of feel-good hooey. I think in general we are short-changing our kids and giving in to the popular sentiment of "if it's hard then it's not worth doing." Yeah, some kids SHOULDN'T layn. There's no shame in that. But for the ones who can, they SHOULD. Kids need to be pushed to perform. Otherwise they'll just sit around all day and play videogames. Wait...

Anyway, all I can say is that Curly has had his challenges with regards to this (not the least of which is this mondo dental appliance which his orthodotist has cemented into his mouth) and has had to work harder than his brothers just to be intelligible. But you know what? He has risen wonderfully to the occasion, and I challenge him or anyone else to tell me that he hasn't grown by leaps and bounds from this experience. He's been able to learn and memorize the ENTIRE parsha, the Haftora, and he wrote his own speech which, as of right now, he can deliver with barely a glance at the notes. If that's not an accomplishment to be proud of, I don't know what is. Of course it remains to be seen if anyone will be able to understand a single word he says, but who cares, they'll all be asleep by then anyway.

The other big issue with the BM as we like to call it is that my family is coming in from NY, and Mrs. B's from Toronto and Miami. Most notably my Mother is coming. This means that the house has to be ABSOLUTELY SPOTLESS. My daughter Fudge tells me to relax, my Mom will love me anyway, but she is WRONG WRONG WRONG!!

Trust me Fudge, you may have gotten a mega dose of Grandma Rose recently, and I'll admit you have captured her essence nicely, but I lived with her for 20 years. That woman can spot a piece of lint at 20 yards. She's Polish, for cryin out loud! Those people can see things that are invisible to mere American mortals!

So the plan right now is to get a cleaning lady in (we have a cleaning lady?) and clean the place up real good on Thursday. Then my plan is to lock the doors and wrap the whole house up with Celophane until my Mom shows up. That way it'll be like, y'know, sanitized for her protection.

And it is key to keep the kids out of the house. Because, love them as I do, they are all slobs, evey last one of them. And The PT is the worst. She walks through the door, and there's crap all over the place inside of 15 seconds. I don't know how she does it. She's like a slug leaving a slime trail behind. Shoes here. Jacket on the floor. Backpack on the couch. Notes on the stairs. Wrappers and crumbs follow her wherever she goes. Shudder.

Anyway, that's what's going on. Wish us luck, er, Mazel Tov. See you on the other side...


AidelMaidel said...

Oh ho ho. The PT lives in fear of someone and that someone is his mother. Now tell me will you ever be able to live down the guilt of exposing your mother to a dirty house, or will it go with you the grave (g-d forbid)?

And is this neurosis yours or your wife's? I get the sense that it really is yours, and then you would have to be an anomoly - because what man is concerned about cleanliness?

Anonymous said...

First things first, MAZEL TOV!
Second, not that it really matters but I was just wondering how Bat Mitzvahs are handled in the midwest. I'm a NY and am so against the extravagant parties, etc... Its when I read things like this that make me want to pack up and move out of town...

Irina Tsukerman said...

Mazal Tov! I'm sure Curly is going to do great! : )

PsychoToddler said...

AidelMaidel--we all know it's you, what's with the "m": The neurosis is mine, but not because I'm worried that my mom will think I'm a slob. She raised me. She KNOWS I'm a slob. I worry what she will think about the rest of the family. And there's all kinds of dynamics and bad history so we won't go THERE.

Anonymous: I can't speak for the whole Midwest, just my community. And Bat Mitzvahs are basically a non-event. Men are not involved in them in any way. I wasn't even at my daughters (it was at the house). Usually it's just a Shalos Shutes at someone's house, and the rebbitzen speaks. And I think that's just a concession to the BT's who came from an environment where a Bat Mitzvah was a female Bar Mitzvah which was a mini-wedding without the inlaws.

Anonymous said...

"while I wore a white three-piece tuxedo that would have made John Travolta jealous, and if you're very good one day I will scan in a picture"

I am sure that the entire blogosphere will be very good just to see that.

Hope the exploding toilets don't show up when your Mom arrives.

Mazel Tov - I am sure Curly will do a fabulous job. (He is your kid afterall!)

Anonymous said...

Mazel Tov!

Too funny about the cleanliness in the house! You could always just use the excuse we use in my home; "this house just attracts dirt!"

I think people would pay good money to see those pictures :)

Essie said...

Mazel Tov!

PsychoToddler said...

irina and essie: Thank you!

orieyenta and trsnspr: Slightly off topic but apropos (there's a grandma word) my attire, yo yo yo I am so fly.

Anonymous said...

Thats certainly more than my barmitzvah and most of the barmitzvahs in the old country involved.

Basicaly it used to boil down to this:

Boy goes with his father to shul shabbos mincha or monday or thursday shacheris. Boy receives appropriate aliya. Shul concludes, boy does nothing. Boy takes off tefillin, and is treated to small seuda, usualy involving some minor quantity of liquor from which everyone can only have a thimble full. Boy makes short learned speach, if he does that. Everyone wishes boy a mazel tov and gets on with their lives.

one wonders how things got so convoluted to be the way they are these days. must be america rubbing off on the boys.

Anonymous said...

Mazel tov!!

I know what you mean about the extravagant parties...I just cannot get over them!

And I'm sure he'll do wonderfully!!

Shifra said...

Before my mother visits I clean and organize for weeks then when she comes I quickly toss all the heavy duty cleaning supplies down the basement (where I've also stashed all our other crap from around the house) and say "Oh I've been so busy I barely had time to clean!" then proceed to tidy up like a normal person would.

deeni said...

No Bat Mitzvah parties? No fathers at the party at home. I'm so depressed just thinking about it. Now I know I could never live in the midwest-- and I like the idea of small communities. But this is only in the beis yaakov community, right? is there much of a modern orthodox community? is it the same there?

torontopearl said...

Zol zein mit mazel!

No doubt your bar mitzvah boy will say in his speech: "Thank you, Eema & Aba/Tati, for all you have taught me. Now I want to teach you something: My name is NOT Curly!!!"

Anonymous said...

It is not a simcha unless the toilets explode.

Mazal tov.

Shira Salamone said...

We tried to make our son's Bar Mitzvah celebration similar to the Punster's Bar Mitzvah and my Bat Mitzvah celebrations--he chanted the haftarah and gave a d'var Torah ("word of Torah" speech), and we sponsored a kiddush for the congregation and lunch for the invited guests in the synagogue thereafter. That was it. He'll be 24 in a few months, and I don't think he's forgiven us yet. You can't get away with that in the New York metropolitan area. It's sad.

We'd love to join you for your simchah, but, unfortunately, it's a long walk. :) Mazal tov to Curly and the gantze mishpocheh/entire family.

~ Sarah ~ said...

good luck with all the cleaning and stuff!

and all the best to Curly... i'm sure he'll do great and no one really expects to understand the mumbling of a barmitzvah boy properly so no pressure ;)

mazal tov!

Jewish Blogmeister said...

Mazal Tov, my neighborhood is not into the big parties but some of them started hiring some a capella groups to bring ruach to a shabbos bar-mizvah meal. I think it adds a nice touch and the people seem to really enjoy it.

Doctor Bean said...

mazal tov!

next year in Milwaukee!

Anonymous said...

Mazal Tov.
Good luck to Curly and good luck on the cleaning.

parcequilfaut said...

My first time ever in a synagogue was one of the ridiculously swank, rich-people Bar Mitzvahs for one of the kids I went to school with. Pretty kicking party, and otherwise it probably would have been another ten years or so before I got to go to a Jewish place of worship.

Mazel tov and best of luck to Curly.

I was already being good so that my mom will, like Santa, give me what I want for Christmas (replacement parts for my sewing machine and a double boiler), but now I will be EXTRA double super Boy Scout good, if it means the PT will scan his own Bar Mitzvah pictures.

I might even start blogging again. But don't hold your breath, at least not until the new year.

As for the dirty house...my mother is a Southern lady, and they can spot dirt that has not yet actually taken on existence. I have literally refused to allow my mother to come in my house when she was picking me up, if it was the end of the week and Cleaning Time hadn't happened...I'm gone thirteen hours a day, so the place is always full of cat fur, tumbles of stuff that were piles before cats ran right through said piles at light speed, clean laundry in Tuffies, dirty laundry in other Tuffies, and bottle caps that have been chased and abandoned by cats sitting right where you will step on them in your bare feet.

In fact, it might be much like having a PT.

Eeees said...

Mazal tov to you PT, his Curlyship, and the entire mishpacha!
I'm sure he'll do fine. (If not, maybe Grandma will let him hide out at her place..)
Our out of town guests never made it to our son's Bar Mitzvah. They ended up getting caught in traffic around Staten Island. They showed up on a different relative's doorstep literally 5 minutes or so before Shabbos/Yom Tov, and said "Hi. Can we stay for Yom Tov".
The funny thing is, said relative was suppossed to have had guests for Yom Tov (Succot), and they had just canceled that morning. Talk about hashgacha pratis (divine intervention)!

PsychoToddler said...

HNC: While I'm not averse to going back to that system (and believe me, there are people around me who are clamoring for it), I think the kid should do SOMETHING to mark the passage. I guarantee you that I would never have learned to layn were it not expected of me, and through that process I managed to overcome my shyness when it came to speaking and singing in front of people. My whole musical career can trace itself back to my bar mitzvah day. And I had an unbelievable sense of accomplishment which fueled my self-confidence and has encouraged me to take on so many different projects over the years.

But the disco and the candlelighting I can do without.

Jessica: Thanks.

Shifra: Nice strategy. I can clean for weeks too, but it is like footprints on the beach. Every evening the tide comes in and washes away my hard work.

Deeni: I'm guessing the MO community does more with it. I know the Conservative and Reform and beyond crowd make a much bigger deal out of it (and I think they move it to age 13).

My sisters had Belly dancers at the Baba club, so I think it's possible to get a little away from the point. Do I wish the community was hipper, sure. Am I glad I didn't blow 20 grand on a Bas Mitzvah, you betcha.

Pearl: No, his name is "OUT OF AMMO."

Anonymous: Give it some time. We'll see.

Shira: I can't believe he cares. Bar Mitzvahs are never about the kids. They're about the parents showing off for the neighbors.

Sarah: Yes, low expectations, we encourage them...

JB: You raise an interesting point. I could never bring myself to hire a band for one of these, sans instruments or otherwise. Aren't I a hypocrite? I don't know what I'll do for the weddings. I hope I have some friends in the music industry by then...

Doc: Thank you, but you owe us a visit. Happy Birthday to Granny and-Chain.

LB: Thank you! Im yirtzeh Hashem by u!

parce: You know what? I didn't invite any of my non-Jewish friends to this. Come to think of it, I didn't invite any of my Jewish friends, either. It's not a party, and I'd feel bad having them sit through this foreign service and not be able to be there to explain it to them, as I plan to be next to Curly the whole time.

Eeees: Wow, that is so weird. BTW, what is "out of town" for you, Queens?

Anonymous said...

Mazel tov on the BM (sounds like toilet training - is that abbreviation the connection between the title of this post and its actual subject matter?!) Three for three! I bet this time's Baruch Sheptarani (sp?) is going to feel really good.

When it comes to cleaning, the thought of my mother seeing my house when it's messy makes me physically ill. She is the. neatest. person. alive. Gets up at 4:45 and the house is sparkling-spotless by 5:30. Does things as routine daily maintenance that I hopefully get to once a month. Yikes. Hatzlacha and don't forget to have fun!

Bagel Blogger said...

Mazal Tov to Curly.

From Fudge's description PT you are in big trouble.
Don't worry about your kids having the keys to the car, worry about Grand Ma Rose!

As for:
"Because, love them as I do, they are all slobs, evey last one of them."

I see the apples didn't fall far?

I don't know what I want to see more, You in your disco dancing white tux or the look of horror when Grandma Rose rings the bell and the the house is that 'inevitable, a bomb has just gone off'.
Fun times a comin.

Visit: Bagelblogger

Subway Sally said...

Mark, you said, "Bar Mitzvahs are never about the kids. They're about the parents showing off for the neighbors."

That's not entirely true. They're also about the kids paying each other back for being invited to one another's Bar Mitzvah celebrations. Our son felt that, since the Bar Mitzvah celebration that we gave for him was not nearly as fancy as those of his friends, we'd embarrassed him in public.

Subway Sally said...

Mark, you said, "Bar Mitzvahs are never about the kids. They're about the parents showing off for the neighbors."

That's not entirely true. They're also about the kids paying each other back for being invited to one another's Bar Mitzvah celebrations. Our son felt that, since the Bar Mitzvah celebration that we gave for him was not nearly as fancy as those of his friends, we'd embarrassed him in public. This is one of the hazards of living in an area in which extravagant Bar Mitzvah celebrations are the norm--it can be tough on a kid when his parents insist on making his celebration the exception to the rule.

outofAMMO said...

sarah said nobody expects to here the bar mitzvah boy's mumbling anyway. Think I can get away with a different Parsha?

outofAMMO said...

And if you call me 'His Curlyship' EVER again...

wanderer said...

My Bar Mitzvah was actually quite similar to what HNC described. Only it was that way because my anti-religious father didn't want to do much else, and we couldn't afford anything else anyway. Alot has changed since then, but the bottom line is I never learned how to layn.

In any case, I'm sure Curly will make you proud! Mazel tov to all of you and we are so sorry we couldn't make the trip.

Anonymous said...

quite sad

Whoa - British Airways to Contact Passengers After Traces of Radiation Found on Planes

queeniesmom said...

Mazel Tov! I hope everyone enjoys and i'm sure Curly/outofammo will be sensational.

Any chance of giving Gramma a set of blinders?

Shabbat shalom. Much nachas and mazel from all of your children.

Anonymous said...

Are you guys in the middle of a blizzard?! Woah. I hope everything goes well!

PsychoToddler said...

We sure are! My mom is here but my sisters are supposed to fly in today. I still don't know if they'll make it.

Anonymous said...

LB: Thank you! Im yirtzeh Hashem by u!

I've got some time--around 9 1/2 years!

outofAMMO said...

I walked to shul this morning, and there were cars from the guys who came to an hour earlier minyan that had a few inches of snow covering them.