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My Son, the Juvenile Delinquent

Okaaay. Somebody call the cops. This pack of five-year-olds is clearly up to no good

There’s always that one kid. You know, the one child of yours who does and says things that make you wonder who has been raising him these past few years, because his behavior is definitely not a result of your fine parenting skills.

Did he grow up in a barn?

Was he raised by wolves?

Are they looking for him?

Do they want him back?

You can’t even regale others with the tales of his shenanigans because they don’t sound believable, not even to you. And you were there when they happened.

I’m talking about my five-year-old. He’s only in kindergarten, but if I’m not mistaken, he’s already been initiated into the local kindergarten gang of mini anarchists.

Every time he tells a story about something that happened in cheder, it always involves him and his crew: Moishy, Aryeh, and Yossi (names changed to protect the guilty).

One day he came home and told me that he and his friends had decided to bake a kokosh cake in cheder the next day.

“My job is to bring the eggs and the mixer,” he informed me.

“The mixer as in the KitchenAid? That weighs more than you do. And I’m afraid you are not bringing either a mixer or eggs to cheder tomorrow,” I replied.

“But I have to!” he insisted. “Everyone will be bringing in the things they’re supposed to bring! I can’t be the only one who doesn’t bring my stuff!”

“Don’t worry,” I assured him. “I am absolutely sure that the other boys will not be allowed to bring the oil, flour, or anything else on the list. You will not be the only one.”

After a mild meltdown during which he continued to insist that everyone else would be bringing their baking supplies, he went to sleep. If you think he forgot about his mission the next morning, you are wrong.

He reluctantly left to cheder emptyhanded, and I was waiting for him when he got off the bus at the end of the day.

“Was Mommy right? Did all the other boys also leave their ingredients at home?” I asked.

“No one brought in their stuff,” he answered.

“See? I told you!” I told him triumphantly.

He looked at me, a gleam in his eye, and said, “Not yet.”

“I’m sorry, not yet what?” I asked.

He hesitated and took a deep breath before deciding to own up. “Everyone’s mommy said they can’t bring in the stuff, so Moishy and Aryeh said we should wait for our mommies to go to sleep and then put the things in our knapsacks.”

Okaaay. Somebody call the cops. This pack of five-year-olds is clearly up to no good. Plans to sneak things out of the house in the dead of the night? Seriously?

I have some questions for these kids.

Have any of them ever been in prison?

What are their gang affiliations?

What happens after this initiation rite?

Well, at four a.m., I kid you not, I was awakened by my five-year-old shaking my shoulder and whispering directly in my ear.

“Mommy? Mommy! I need your help.”

“What are you doing up in the middle of the night? It’s still time to be asleep,” I said with my eyes still closed.

He pushed his little face next to mine and answered, “I’m trying to move the mixer, but it’s too heavy, and I can’t get it into my knapsack. Can you help me pick it up?”

My sleep-scrambled brain struggled to absorb this information, but I was still both astounded and wildly impressed at this level of follow-through. Waking up at four a.m. to smuggle a KitchenAid that weighs more than you do into your knapsack shows real commitment to the vision.

Second of all, while this sweet child may have chosen the thug life, it’s clear that the thug life did not choose him. There’s hope for him now!

I hope when he tells the kids back in cheder that he woke up his mom to help him with the smuggling and that she refused, they’ll kick this tiny kid right out of their band of felons.

Better luck with your new recruit next time, fellas.

He did not bake a kokosh cake in cheder that week.

But it looks like they haven’t kicked him out just yet, because by the following week he was in tears again. He, Moishy, Aryeh, and Yossi had plans to build a new school bus in cheder, and I didn’t let him take any power tools in his knapsack.

I’ll bet these kids will be a real hoot by the time they’re teenagers.

I can’t wait.

Lest you think he only gets into mischief at cheder, rest assured that his mischief-making skills are in high gear at home as well.

Just last week he walked out of the bathroom and announced, “I have nothing dangerous in my pockets!”

Naturally, I dropped what I was doing and ran to frisk him. And behold, there was something dangerous in his pockets, shocking absolutely no one.

At least it’s a blessing that his future as a criminal mastermind is looking bleak, due to his tendency to involve his parents in his illegal pursuits and his inability to keep quiet about his misdemeanors.

I wish I had time to tell you about the Jell-O incident, but I see my five-year-old walking by with a stick that is taller than he is. I need to grab that before there’s an unfortunate accide— sigh. Too late.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 859)

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