| Musings |

Bursting Your Bubble   

While we don’t have table-setting issues anymore, not all is calm and tranquil on our side of town just yet

Sometimes when I’m having a more exhausting week than usual, some well-intentioned friend or acquaintance will say, “Hang in there, it’s almost Shabbos!”

It’s obvious to me that they mean that if I can just make it through the rest of the week, Shabbos will be a day of Rest, Relaxation, and Recharging, as I leave my weekday worries behind and soak in the holiness of the day with beautiful seudos, divrei Torah, and perhaps even a Shabbos afternoon nap.

It is equally obvious to me that this person has never spent Shabbos in a house full of little boys.

Don’t get me wrong — Shabbos in our house is beautiful.

My table is set to perfection. My kids are even old enough that I can set it well in advance before my husband comes home from shul — and I don’t take that for granted.

There were years in my parenting career when I was surrounded by toddlers, and I knew that if I set the table five minutes too early, it would be completely undone and destroyed within 30 seconds. The only viable option was to set the table right before we actually sat down, and even then, we had to take turns washing for challah because if there was no adult supervision at the table, plates would be flying, salt would be everywhere, drinks would be spilled, and every child present would be blaming his brother. (If this is the stage you’re in right now, don’t worry. I’m fairly certain this is not a “chuppah problem”; by the time your child is ready to walk down the aisle, he will have conquered the temptation to wreak havoc on a set table. I think.)

But while we don’t have table-setting issues anymore, not all is calm and tranquil on our side of town just yet. Take, for example, this true story that happened just the other week:

My husband comes home from shul Friday night with two guests, and everyone chimes in for Shalom Aleichem.

My eight-year-old goes to get a bottle of Cherry Coke, but accidentally drops it on the way in. Fortunately, it doesn’t open, and I tell him that we aren’t opening the bottle until we hear Kiddush and wash for hamotzi.

Ten-year-old starts to argue that he should really have the first cup of soda since it was his idea to buy it.

Six-year-old starts to wail that it’s not fair that ten-year-old gets everything first.

Eight-year-old maintains that he should have the first cup since he brought it to the table.

I reiterate that we are not opening the bottle until after Kiddush and hamotzi.

Shalom Aleichem is over and Eishes Chayil begins.

The Cherry Coke debate gets louder. Now the six-year-old is crying.

Eight-year-old puts his hand on the bottle cap.

I repeat that we are not opening the bottle yet.

Husband rises for Kiddush.

Guests rise for Kiddush.

Children rise for Kiddush.

Eight-year-old reaches for the soda, telling himself that he won’t drink it yet, but he is going to open the bottle.

He turns the cap and Cherry Coke EXPLODES absolutely everywhere. There is no surface on the table and no person in the room who is not covered in the carbonated liquid as far as the eye can see.

You can see how this is so very restful.

If I’m not mistaken, our guests are still recovering.


We have friends who drop by Friday nights after their own seudah is finished (this is an official shout-out to the Friday Night Crew), and they often wonder in amazement how we could only be up to the soup when they have been finished for hours.

Well, things just take longer around here.

For example, everyone has their set seats. But sometimes one child wants a change of scenery. He wants to sit in his brother’s seat. This is only doable if someone else at the table would like to change his seat as well.

Negotiations begin. Bribes are offered from one sibling to the other. Terms and conditions are agreed upon. The temporary seating change takes place.

Peace reigns throughout the land for approximately four minutes. Then one of the kids changes his mind and wants his own seat back, but it’s too late according to his brother because the deal is done and figuratively signed in blood, and there is no going back. That leaves us parents refereeing in the midst of this chaos with no protective gear whatsoever.

This is why we are only up to the soup when people come by — we are just too busy relaxing.

Somewhere after the soup, I leave the table to put the kids who are losing their minds with exhaustion to bed. It’s not a quick and easy process, but it is a necessary one.

Every woman reading this column understands why I do Shabbos bedtime instead of my husband. We all know that if my husband goes into a dark bedroom with a noise machine to put three little kids to sleep, there is no way he is staying awake past Hamalach Hagoel.

When my husband does take care of bedtime on Shabbos, a search and rescue team must be dispatched to quietly wake him up so that he can leave the room without waking up the kids.

And no, I don’t think this accidental nap leaves him feeling particularly recharged.

So yes, we do love Shabbos and we love spending Shabbos with our kids; I just wouldn’t call it a day of rest and relaxation exactly.

Perhaps you think that Shabbos day is when we really have the opportunity to recharge and connect as a family and we sure do (sort of), but that is a whole other story for a whole ’nother article.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 885)

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