| Musings |

Pandemonium Planned

I’m never actually present at these alleged family meetings, but given my children’s behavior, I’m 90 percent certain they do take place


Actual Hypothetical Recorded Minutes of the Swerds Boys Family Meeting (circa 2017):

Four-year-old: “Hey, guys, I think it’s great that we’ve been able to wake up before 5 a.m., but we can do better than that.”

Three-year-old: “Really? I’m pretty maxed out from getting up at five. By 4:30 in the afternoon, I’m losing my mind.”

Four-year-old: “No, let’s not wake up earlier, let’s just tag-team Mommy. If we plan it well, we can have her awake for most of the night. That way, she doesn’t ever have to miss us!”

Infant: “Sounds like a plan. What if instead of just waking up and eating, I also throw up everywhere?”

Four-year-old: “Perfect. Look, I’ll start by going to sleep super late. Who wants 12 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.?”

Two-year-old: “Oh, I’ll take that. It’s super fun to sing and talk in my crib and at some point, take off my pamper so that Mommy can’t decide if she should panic and come into the room or stay out and let me fall back asleep.”

Three-year-old: “I’ll take the next shift. I’ll let Mommy sleep for 30 minutes and then I’ll wake up at 3 a.m. and tell her I want candy. I’ll pretend I have no idea why I can’t have candy now and I’ll get out of bed four times asking for candy just to see how long it takes her to lose it. Also, that way we can see each other more often. I’ll be pretty tired, though, so I don’t think I can go for longer than an hour.”

Four-year-old: “Don’t worry about it. I’ll do the next round. I’ll let Mommy sleep for 15 minutes and then I’ll have a scary bad dream so she’ll wake up, and I’ll insist I can’t go back into my own bed unless Mommy comes into the room and watches me to make sure my bad dream doesn’t come back.”

Three-year-old: “Is that enough? I feel like Mommy going back to sleep at 4:45 is still going to allow her to sleep for a block of time. Don’t we want to test her endurance and her love for us?”

Infant: “I can be up at 6 a.m. if that’s helpful, so that you guys can sleep in.”

Two-year-old: “Yeah, I’m with the baby on this. We can both be up at six. You guys sleep in until Mommy has to wake you to make it to school on time.”

Four-year-old: “This is amazing. See what we can come up with if we believe in ourselves?”

There is something just so heartwarming about my children working together as a group, putting aside their differences to achieve a common goal.

Is this what nachas feels like?

Because it seems that nachas feels a lot like sleep deprivation.

The children got older and their hypothetical family meetings began to sound a little different.

Actual Hypothetical Recorded Minutes of the Swerds Boys Family Meeting (2021):

Eight-year-old: “I’d like to call this meeting to order by reminding everyone that we only have a few minutes before Mommy gets suspicious that we’re up to something.”

Seven-year-old: “Don’t worry about it. In three minutes, I’ll chase Five-year-old down the hall and back again so Mommy thinks she knows where we are and what we’re doing.”

Eight-year-old: “Excellent. Okay, let’s do a quick run-through of everyone’s jobs and try to focus on how to keep Mommy on her toes. Remember, mothers are at their very best when we make sure that they really love us — no matter what.”

Seven-year-old: “I’ll start. I’m currently heading the “That Used to Be My Favorite Supper but Now I Think It’s Poison” club. All members are encouraged to have Mommy make their favorite foods for a couple of weeks, and just when Mommy thinks she’s found something nutritious to feed us, we pretend we’ve never seen it before.”

Eight-year-old: “How’s that sponsorship from Amnon’s Pizza working out?”

Seven-year-old: “Great! Just last week Mommy bought us actual fresh pizza from Amnon’s, and we all refused to eat it and insisted on eating their frozen pizza instead.”

Eight-year-old: “Amazing. Four-year-old, I hope you’re still insisting on wearing a white dress shirt to school every day, and I will continue to absolutely refuse to wear a white dress shirt ever — not even on Shabbos or Rosh Chodesh.”

Five-year-old: “And I’m the president of the Mitzvah Note Squad. I specialize in needing a mitzvah note at the least convenient time possible, like three minutes before the school bus comes, or when Mommy’s in the middle of doing six other things. That’s when I get really passionate about the importance of mitzvah notes and sometimes I even cry that I need one written right now.”

Eight-year-old: “Hey, well done.”

Three-year-old: “You guys asked me to be the one to continue to wake up a few times a night, but I gotta tell you, sometimes I’m just very tired, and I accidentally sleep through the night a few nights in a row. But after I get some solid sleep for a couple days, I have enough energy to be up at random times the next few nights. I’m just sorry I can’t be up every night.”

Eight-year-old: “Don’t worry about it, kiddo. Your way is actually better! What’s the key to keep Mommy from slipping into a life of scheduled complacency? If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: Inconsistency, inconsistency, inconsistency.”

Seven-year-old: “Anyone wants to add anything?”

Three-year-old: “Just that I’m seriously enjoying my job as Sink Flooder. Every time Mommy takes her eyes off me, I run to an unattended sink and let the water run over and flood everything in the house. Sometimes, I’ll find small random household items or toys to flush down the toilet too, just to spice things up a bit.”

Four-year-old: “Do you think Mommy knows this is an organized and premeditated effort?”

Seven-year-old: “Not a chance. But even if she does catch on that we’re doing it to test her parenting skills, we’re actually doing her a favor. We give her so much content to write about and things to talk about and reasons to drink another cup of coffee…. What would she even do with herself or talk to her sisters about if we started slacking off?”

Eight-year-old: “Yup, totally. Okay, good meeting, everyone. Let’s touch base in a few weeks from now for updated status reports.”


I’m never actually present at these alleged family meetings, but given my children’s behavior, I’m 90 percent certain they do take place. In fact, even as I type this, I’m pretty sure I just heard my eight-year-old say, “Way to go, team!”

And now they’re all high-fiving each other. Give me a minute while I go make another cup of coffee and call my sister for backup.



(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 739)

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