Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Living a Joyous Life

I LOVE going to the bookstore AND the library. I am in awe of the quantity and diversity of the books and I am inspired. I ALWAYS think to myself "one day, I will have something sitting on these shelves;" (and not just my purse while I peruse the books - haha just kidding.) I don't think the purse part, that was just for your benefit. I also have to say (and this always seems to come as a shock every time I say it) I love the QUIET. The whispers. The experience.
Anyway, a couple of weeks a go I was in Barnes and Noble with a friend of mine. She was in the self-help section; so I started skimming the shelves. I was amazed at how many of the books applied to me. I was actually starting to get a little worried - I mean if I could use all of the self-help books that I thought I could use; I must be a friggin mess. LOL OK, so I continued skimming and never actually picked up a book to purchase (I guess I didn't think that I was really that far gone in the long run. Either that or it was the prices that deterred me - you choose.) I rounded a corner and I saw some books on spirituality and all of a sudden it hit me. Like if I would have been a cartoon, you would have seen the light bulb over my head. What I REALLY needed in order to get my act together (a little more) was a book on Judaism. I am VERY proud to be Jewish, but I was not brought up in a very religious home; so for me, being Jewish is a lot more about culture and traditions, (and the Pines) then it is about observance. Luis and I had always agreed that we would teach the kids about Judaism and Catholicism and ultimately one day they could decide for themselves what they believe. I know that's a tall order for kids, but as neither of us is giving up our religion, it is the only fair thing to do. As long as the kids grow up with faith, I think the doctrine that they believe is not as important (at this stage of the game;) but that's just me.
So why suddenly Judaism, who knows? Maybe I myself need more faith. Maybe I need to know more about where my people come from, why we believe as we do and how to be a better person. Gotta be after my greater good too ya know. OK, blah, blah, blah so I scan the shelves and take many, many I mean MANY books with me, and I sit down and I start checking them out. And, yes, I'll admit it, the price was what kept me from actually purchasing something - but I did make a promise to myself that I would make it to the library ASAP and borrow some books on Judaism.

I finally made it to the library on Sunday, and I am currently reading "Living A Joyous Life - The True Spirit of Jewish Practice" by Rabbi David Aaron. I also borrowed, "Judaism for Everyone - Renewing your life through the Vibrant lessons of the Jewish Faith;" by Schmuley Boteach (another Shmuley; just what I need.) And while I was at it, I also checked out "On Becoming Fearless" by Arianna Huffington, and"We are Our Mothers' Daughters" by Cokie Roberts - Am I on a voyage of self discovery or what? Good thing these loans are 3 weeks at a time and I can typically renew up to 3 times.

And now we take a curve: Nicky went to pre-school for 1 year. The school was OK. Their premise was "learn through play." OK; so he was my first kid to go to pre-school and the price was right (because they gave you a discount for aiding in the class and provided free childcare for your other kids while you aided; so learning through play it was.) Lyndzi then went there for one year as well. During the year I aided A LOT; partly because the school was so far from my house, that it just made more sense to stay there, and partly because of the discount. I was there so much that I was approached about joining the board. Well, I thought that I liked the school well enough, so I went to the meeting; and I swear these women seemed more like a sorority then a school board. Their biggest concerns were their Big Sis / Little Sis program, gifts for the teachers EVERY WEEK and their retreat. Nonetheless I was ready to forge ahead (because one of the perks of being on the board is getting your child into the class that you want.) I knew exactly who I wanted for Lyndzi for the following year, and guess what, because I couldn't sleep in the parking lot to be one of the first on line at registration, Lyndzi wound up on the waiting list. Long story short, I told the President of the board and the director of the school EXACTLY what I thought - Queen of STANDING UP FOR MY KIDS (that's me.) But now I was left with the task of finding a new school for Lyndzi just a few days before school would start. Luckily my friend Kara told me about Work of Heart.

I'll never forget my first conversation with the director of the school. The school is housed at the Peoria Church of the Nazarene (well. the other school was at a church too, but it had no religious affiliation.) I asked if there was an affiliation with the church and she said "No, we have all different denominations here;" (Ya, all but Jewish.) I think Lyndzi was probably the only Mexican, Jew the school had ever had. We went to observe the first day of school and the first order of business was the morning prayer. I wasn't really prepared for this, but I took it in stride. After going to the puppet show and hearing about zoo phonics I was sold. Religion be damned (well, you know what I mean) Regardless of the religious aspect, I thought this was the best school for my daughter.

Lyndzi's teacher was very nice, and really seemed to like her. I had to explain about me being Jewish when I opted to make her a pig costume for the Christmas show (well, she was supposed to be a barn animal and they said buy sweat pants and a sweat shirt and I thought she'd definitely use pink again; so how was I supposed to know that there was no pig in the manger - being Jewish was my only defense.) Now call me paranoid, or crazy but do you think that it's a coincidence that on Mom's day at school Lyndzi's job was to be the Prayer helper? OY, she sat on the teachers lap; bowed her little head and said "Dear Jesus..." (Not that there's anything wrong with that - just for me it was a hard pill to swallow.) A few weeks later Lyndzi had a speaking part at her graduation. She had to say something about his light and his path or whatever. I didn't really understand it, so it wasn't quite as bad. But I could just picture my mom turning in her grave as Lyndzi sang about Jesus.

Since Lyndzi did SO well in this program, it was a no brainer that Kelsie would go there too. She went last year, and apart from an occasional prayer with the pastor; I was able to cope.

So fast forward to today. I bring Kelsie to school and as I'm about to walk in the door, the director says "May I speak with you for a minute?" Oh my god, I got a knot in my stomach, I thought to myself, "What the heck could she want?" I mean with Kelsie, it could be just about anything. And then she said "kelsie has a speaking part in our performance so I'd like you to help her learn her lines. She's doing very well, but the show is in a few weeks and she'll need to practice." (Let me just say it's their annual fall show with a western theme. I had to send in a red bandanna and soup can for something they're making) And Kelsie will say "Yippie! - We sure have fun learnin' about Jesus out here on the trail. Here is our first song."

Oy Gevalt! What more can I say? I AM living a Joyous Life.
Till next time...


Rachel said...

Oy...and 'Chag Sameach'/happy new year to you too!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to commend you on being such a trooper in so many ways. First, just raising your children today, is such a handful, but to let your children grow and learn for themselves with such a strong but loving parents to come home to, is something so rare in today's society. I am so proud of the amazing steps you have taken in and with your children. They are truly blessed under whatever "higher power" that inspires you. Happy New Year, today and always.

Mrs. K said...

Happy New Year! I love being a part of the joyous life you are living!!!

nancy said...

The part about the pig in the manger made me laugh out loud. Can't wait to tell Dan.

The fact that you care so much about a quality education for your children is what matters most!