| LifeTakes |

The Child in Me

My daughter’s face lights up. Yes. She’s going to teach me! Look at that, she’s got the coolest mommy!

Family pictures are my undoing.

I’m not a major picture taker. I mean, theoretically I am. I love taking pictures, or rather, I love having taken pictures. (It’s just like writing — I hate writing, I love having written.)

I used to take a lot of pictures. When I had my first baby, I stacked towels and placed my newborn on top, tied a pink bow around the whole tower and shot until my mother protested that the baby was freezing, could you wrap her up already?

But when the princess was joined by royal siblings, taking pictures became a dreaded chore. I had to do it, the bubbies were waiting for those photos. But to get multiple little people to look at the camera at the same time, with somewhat happy faces… well, try it.

I never understood the phenomenon. A baby, okay, he doesn’t understand what you want from his life. But a four-year-old, why is it such a big deal to stand straight for two seconds, look up, and smile?

As much as I try reasoning with them that the whole thing will take two seconds if they’d just cooperate, all I need is one good shot, no, there’s always one kid wandering off, one throwing a tantrum, one offering unsolicited photography advice, and one blinking. Of course, at exactly the moment the baby looks up and grins.

And then I go to the dentist.

 

I mean, I always go to the dentist. Every six months sharp, as per protocol. What, you don’t?

So I go to the dentist, and the dentist takes X-rays. It goes like this:

“Open. Bite. No, not like this. Open. Bite. No, not like this. Again. Open. Bite. Okay, now don’t move. Argh, you moved. Tilt your chin down. Up. To the right. To the left. Open. Bite. DON’T MOVE!”

Let’s just say I develop a new appreciation of Hillel’s words, “Al tadin es chaveircha ad she’tagi’a limkomo.”

See?

This is why we need to go to the dentist.

Of course, training my children to cooperate during a photography session is one of the smaller challenges of mothering. There are so many skills I try to teach them, and it gets very frustrating when, let’s say, a kid forgets to brush his teeth or put his clothing in the hamper.

Seriously, what’s so hard? You take off your clothing, you put it in the hamper. Nothing more to it. Why do I need to remind you every single day? It should become a habit. Why doesn’t it?

Same with bedtime. You’re all bathed and pajamed and Krias-Shema-leined. Why don’t you just go — to — sleep?

Well. They go to sleep eventually. And I clean up the house. And return phone calls. And get some work done. And prepare clothing for everyone for the next day. And get some more work done.

The clock moves. It’s late, dangerously late. I keep saying I’m going to have an early night. Why don’t I just go — to — sleep?

Turns out good habits aren’t that easy to develop.

Most difficult are the skills that require courage. I teach my children, patiently, then less patiently. Admit the truth. Share. Speak nicely. Apologize. Come on, it’s not so hard. Just say I’m sorry and you’re free to go. Why can’t you? What’s so hard?

Ultimately, it takes a hoverboard to teach me what’s so hard.

We go up to the mountains for a week during the summer. In the bungalow colony we go to, children barely out of diapers mount those hands-free wheeled boards and zoom up and down hills. I have no idea how they do it, but it looks so easy.

So easy, I decide to try it.

My daughter’s face lights up. Yes. She’s going to teach me! Look at that, she’s got the coolest mommy!

I try. Believe me, I try. With my heart in my hand, I try. But can somebody please explain to me how a person is meant to maintain her balance while standing on a two-wheeled board that’s spinning out of control?

“Think where you want to go,” my daughter advises. “It’s so easy. Just think. I want to ride straight ahead. I want to turn. I want to go slow. I want to go fast. Think and it’ll happen, you’ll see.”

I see, somewhat. I cruise along, slowly, it’s fun, really. But when she tentatively lets go of my hand to give me independence, I scream.

I scream like a child.

Because apparently, it’s not so easy to grow up.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 715)

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