We went “away” last shabbas, due to all the plumbing work. Not having water in the kitchen and having a newly-tiled bathroom floor (that I had to be SURE Ricki didn’t step on for 48 hours…) prompted me to accept my son’s invitation to spend shabbas by him. Some observations:
1. Going away for Shabbas means being flexible. It often may involve being less comfortable. For example, Shabbas lunch, traditionally cholent, is a heavy dish, and is the best sleeping drug in the world. At home, the relief of a flat bed is only ten steps away. The place where my son found us to use as sleeping quarters was (only!) 8 floors above his. (Actually, it was easier and faster to climb than I feared.). But it made me appreciate all the more the trials my daughters-in-law endure when they come to us for the weekend.
I also realized that I sometimes worried when to rejoin my son’s family. Was it too early to go down? Or would they feel we had only come for meals if we showed up later? Should we go in time for me to enjoy my grandkids, even if that meant that there would inevitably be squabbling between Ricki and her niece? So I learned that I need to reassure daughters in law that they can come whenever they want, and I will only be sleeping until X o’clock.
2. In the afternoon, we went to a park. I quickly noticed a little girl looking at Ricki and whispering to her friend. Ricki also noticed: Her face fell.
Later Ricki went from the swings to the slides, and this same girl and her friends went there as well. I quickly realized they were playing “Flee from the Retard”. They ran when she slid down. Somehow Ricki missed it, and I called her back to the swings. Another Mother had noticed, and graciously gave Ricki a turn sooner than expected. There are nice people in the world. There are bad.
Ricki will need to learn to deal with this. Don’t ask me how. I wish I could change it for her, but I can’t. (OK., we change it a bit at a time, but not nearly fast enough.) I can only work on giving her love (to store in her “love bank”), and self-confidence, to see that they are the defective ones.
3. Ricki is the youngest child in our family, and she is older than her nephews and nieces (excepting the first child of a half-sister). (Some of you may be surprised to know that sometimes the “Aunt” can be younger than the niece! In large families, the mother can have her youngest child after her oldest child’s first…) Thus, in our house, we have mostly toys for grade school children and up. (Note “mostly”. I purposefully have saved certain things for the grandchildren’s use on visits.) By my married son, where we were visiting for Shabbas (Saturday), all the toys were for children three years old and under. The result is that when Ricki plays with her nieces at our house, I am usually able to find something that they can enjoy, but that is mature enough to be reasonable for Ricki. This was not the case at my son’s house. He has a rather small collection of toys, and all are for the “three and under” set. Thus I was faced with the rather exasperation apparition of Ricki acting like a three-year old, fighting with her niece over a doll carriage.
As my husband pointed out: it is like the opposite of inclusion. When she is with mature teens, she tries to copy them. When faced with a three year-old- level world, she immediately crumbles down to that stage!
4. Ricki did not receive her Concerta on Saturday morning (it had been forgotten 8 floors above….). She was a bit (OK, more than a bit) aggressive. But on the bus home Sunday evening, she suddenly developed a “play for the audience” mood. So she caught the glance of a man sitting across the aisle from us. (He was with his wife.) Ricki started making faces, blowing kisses., etc. I told her that this behavior was not modest, was inappropriate, etc. It didn’t help at all. It was as if all the education I have given her on modesty, strangers, etc was non-existent. I know I haven’t done enough in this area, but my eyes were opened as to exactly “not enough” it was. I feel so inadequate before this tremendous task.