There’s a dilemma that holds me back before responding with that very resounding “Yes”
Dear Daddy and Mommy,
Thank you so much for your invitation to spend Succos in your home. The nostalgia that my childhood home brings, along with spending quality time with you, and of course enjoying your delicious Yom Tov food, is what makes it so enticing to just say, “Yes! I’m packing the suitcases right now and moving in!”
But there’s a dilemma that holds me back before responding with that very resounding “Yes.” I want to convey my feelings and explain why I have this dilemma, but I’m having a hard time expressing them openly, as they might be hard for you to hear, and hurting you would never be my intention.
It’s been many years since you raised your own children. You raised us with a beautiful chinuch, a chinuch that I try to emulate. It will never be exactly like yours since I have a better half who’s also bringing his chinuch experience into our home. Mendy and I work together to raise our children and we have our own derech, one that works well for us.
When it comes to a short visit (in our home or yours), the few hours we spend together doesn’t give the kids too much time to “act out.” You see them mostly happy and content, reveling in attention from Zeidy and Bubby, and we hope you revel in the nachas as well. I know that you see the good in our kids because you’ve expressed it many times. I know that you think highly of them, celebrate their milestones, and find their antics so adorable.
I also know that it’s because of this that you have such high expectations from them.
When we get together for an extended period (like a Shabbos or a Yom Tov) the kids behave, well, like kids! They don’t always listen, they fight, they’re grumpy, they might even retort with a disrespectful response.
In many of these scenarios when our children act out, you discipline them. You don’t give Mendy or me the chance to deal with it on our own. I try to tell myself that you want to set them straight and you do it out of complete love for them. Or I try to consider that it might be that the chinuch of your generation was just different from the way it is today, and it’s hard for you to watch us discipline the kids in our own way.
When they make noise that’s within the normal realm for children, I try not to get annoyed when you tell them to stop. I know it’s probably because you’re used to a quiet house, and a tower of blocks toppling might be bothersome to you.
When Sari refuses to eat her food, it’s hard for you to see your delicious cooking go to waste, and that’s why you make a comment to her about not partaking in Shabbos party until she finishes the food on her plate.
When Yaakov retorts with a disrespectful comment to me, it can’t be easy for you to see him speak that way to his mother, so you tell him he should have derech eretz toward his parents.
You often comment negatively to me about the kids, or go straight to disciplining them yourselves, whether it’s because they’re physically fighting or just arguing, or in so many other situations when they’re just acting as normal, healthy, growing children do. Our kids feed off that negative attention, so for the rest of our visit, they’re on edge, making their behavior even worse.
Please understand that my children are out of routine. They’re exhausted from the late nights, they’re eating foods that are different from what they’re used to, and they’re not in their familiar environment.
I want them to see Bubby and Zeidy as the warm and loving grandparents that you are. I really try to highlight the good and fun parts of spending time with you. But while in the beginning we’re all excited for the upcoming time spent together, by the end of these visits we’re all spent. You, because you’re not used to having the kids underfoot, my children from the negative attention heaped upon them, and Mendy and me from trying to keep the peace between everyone.
And so, please understand, Daddy and Mommy, that I want to come for Yom Tov. I really do! I want to spend time with you. I want to give you the nachas you deserve. I want you to spend time with your grandchildren, and that it should be a positive experience for all parties involved.
Perhaps a Chol Hamoed visit will do?
With much love,
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 862)
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