Wow, the middle of October and hard to believe that we only just finished a full week of school! It’s been a tough week for boys for as soon as school work was finished, off to selling popcorn. Baruch Hashem most of the time we were inside, though Baruch Hashem it has been wonderful out here! I did have the next two days scheduled inside the JCC, but I think we have exhausted the crowd there and I will give some boys a happy break from selling popcorn so they can work on their Foliage Raking elective. It has been hard to get outside when it is light when we come home at sunset time. Our yard is wonderfully colored right now, but if we wait much longer I am afraid it will not and instead it will be dull and gloomy looking.
Even with the extra-curricular activity of socialization with selling popcorn, I have been able to spend some time outside getting my exercise with bike rides. Daddy was even home one day to go out with me, which was an extra bonus. 🙂 I am not really looking forward to the diminishing light, however, on the flip side, the children have been going to sleep a little easier since they do not have the light shining in! Baruch Hashem I moved south after getting married so the sun sets before 11pm in the summer…….
Over the last 4 months or so I have been going to a friend’s house to learn with a few other friends. We are reading “Garden of Emuna (faith/belief)” by Rabbi Shalom Arush. We read a few pages each week and talk about it, taking turns discussing and asking questions. It is a nice heimishe group. Over the last few weeks, I have noticed a change. I do feel a closer connection to our Creator, and I find I am looking at things with a slightly new twist. I enjoy the weekly getaway, and I feel better about myself and life in general. I was wondering how I could instill the new feeling of emuna into my boys while they are young instead of waiting for them to get older to read such a book. It is hard for children to really feel and learn some spiritual concepts while young, but it is so very important.
(Note: This book is not recommended for girls who are in school/seminary until after they have been married for a while – they need to be out in the real world a bit. I would assume it would be similar for boys, though it is harder for me to tell for I was never a boy!)
To create emuna, one needs to have a connection to Hashem. Someone in our group told a nice parable. A father had two daughters. The first daughter was given a credit card and was told she could purchase anything she wanted. The only condition was that she call before buying anything, but she was welcome to purchase anything. The second daughter was given a credit card and told she could purchase anything.
The first daughter would find something and call, “Hi Dad, I found this nice skirt, and the price is right.” “Sure, enjoy!” The father always agreed to whatever she purchased. The second daughter would find something and buy it. No call. She was not told to call. At the end of the year, the first daughter had a much closer relationship with her father for she called all the time to touch base and the second daughter never called.
I want our boys to have a similar connection to their Father in Heaven as the first daughter. Yes, I try to show by example, but I do not show everything I feel. I do not verbalize all the times I thank Hashem for the little things, and they are not there when I cry out to Hashem to help me with rough days. So, we have begun a new thing. At least once a day, at various times in the day, I will sit down with all of them and ask each one of them to tell us for what they are thankful to Hashem for today. At first it was hard for some of them, and yes, they would sometimes repeat what a brother before him had said, but they are slowly getting the idea. It does not matter to me what they are thankful for and it does not matter how small the item is. Actually, sometimes I think it is great that they come up with such tiny things to be thankful for because then they understand that everything is from Hashem, not just the big stuff, and will have a better understanding that Hashem is with them everywhere and at all times.
Today I asked for two things from each boy. We were eating supper at the time. I had made a double batch of split pea soup in the crock pot today and each boy, for one of his two things, said they were thankful for the pea soup that they were eating – and they each had a huge smile on their face! *love* I am doing somethings right! (And yes, each of the 4 boys had a second helping!)
The boys do like their Rebbe, and the Rabbi does offer a nice range of classes, but I only have one boy in a class at a time usually. So, that means that not all the boys get all the classes. It is not all that bad, for some of the classes I make up by teaching myself, and others I plan on having the younger ones take in future years when I age the older one out. I do this for various reasons, mainly because I need to have time to teach all the boys, and if they are all taking most of the classes, then I would not have time to teach them all everything for they are all on different levels and time is a slight factor!
I feel it is best to teach the boys a couple more combined classes, similar to how we do parsha. The thing is, I want something that is interesting that could be taught in small doses. It keeps their interest better so that way they will hopefully remember more. Davening is always something that is hard to do unless you know what you are saying. I did find a nice tefillah curriculum that had 24 short lessons on chinuch.org. The lessons are to be done one a week. Something simple, but yet helps all the boys learn just a bit at a time, a nice small bite sized amount. I like small amounts spread over a long period of time. That is how we do our secular studies. The idea is that time gives the person time to think about what was learned and gives the subconscious time to mull things over and to solidify the thoughts and ideas. I have seen how this works well in many cases. Last year I had a son discuss a reading with me and while he was talking to me he told me, “they did not say in this book, but in the other book we read they also mentioned xxx.” It was so nice to hear him take things from various sources and put them together to create a whole picture and he was so excited to be able to do that for me and without me even prompting!
I’m signing off here to do some exercising before bed!