Tuesday, July 20, 2010


With Sam finally home, I'm noticing two things:

1. Micah has been really hyped up, not always in a good way.

2. The house is a MESS.

When Sam was away, and especially when David was also traveling, Micah and Sofia and I managed to keep the house somewhat neat. I have cleaning ladies come every week now (a birthday present from David - I could no longer keep up with the kitchen and bathroom mess), and Micah and I both revel in the neatness of a freshly cleaned house, so we were able to keep it not-too-bad.

But now Sam is home. And Sam has... has...NO CONCEPT OF NEAT. Not one iota. When I tell Sam to "put that away", he finds the nearest hole-in-a-pile and tucks the item in. I have found sunglasses on the floor next to the staircase (because he reached through he railing on his way up), his jewelery making backpack on top of the shoes, and socks EVERYWHERE.

Ok, maybe next year I really WILL send him to camp all summer. In the mean time, how in the world do I teach this kid to be neater?

I know I was not a neat kid myself. As a teen, no one could walk in my room because I had stuff strewn about the floor. But I learned to be neater in the rest of the house. How do I teach Sam that Micah and I are going to slap him silly get really upset if he doesn't learn that everything has its own proper place?

And the kid is EXPENSIVE. Today, the sitter came to take care of Sofia in the afternoon, so Sam and I could do a little shopping before picking up Micah. (We also stopped by school, and he got to tell all about camp to the staff and his teacher). We went to A.C. Moore because he needed more jewelery making items. Whew. He paid $20 of his own money, but we had to use both my $10 award certificates! And I bought him new sneakers to replace the ones with holes in them that came home from camp.

Speaking of camp, he lost almost nothing...except three black t-shirts, including the one he bought AT camp.

And the level of responsibility is just not the same as his younger brother's. Tonight they both offered to help get Sofia bathed and put to bed. I cleaned up the kitchen and relaxed for a little, especially when it got quiet upstairs. But when I did come up, Sam was watching TV, Micah was playing on the DS, and Sofia was asleep on my floor! (Folded over into a neat little blob, of course!) I was not pleased. And there was still a huge pile of clothing on their floor, mostly Sam's clean laundry from camp.

And while I'm teaching him...any suggestions about how to teach him to close a drawer properly? He has 4 drawers in the dresser, plus one drawer that they share. Three of the four were open. Not just a little. Inches wide open. With stuff sticking out.

My mental image of Sam is this: you know how when you have two magnets, you have to get the proper ends together, otherwise they repel wildly? Well, Sam is always in "repel" mode. He's like PigPen from the Peanuts cartoon, but with junk instead of actual dirt.

Poor Micah is really struggling to hold it together. Between Sam's unpredictability and David's exacting expectations and low level of patience, he is no longer the sweet happy kid he was last week. And he's very aware that he's struggling with all that. We had a nice chat about it. But I feel so bad for him.

David's off to NH for a few days. Tomorrow the sitter comes again, and I will take Sam to the MFA in Boston for a few hours. He's enjoying summer school, although he's a little bored because he is one of the oldest kids (program goes from "entering first grade" to "entering sixth grade"). But he has been there almost every summer, knows all the teachers and some of the kids, and enjoys it.

While they were all at their respective programs this morning, I had my first meeting of the year with Rabbi Sonia, who I work with for High Holidays. I love her. This is our third year together, and it is such a pleasure to work with her. We have to go through the whole "script" page by page for all the services, and figure out what changes and what stays the same each year. This will be my 14th year there (I think! Maybe 13th, including the year off when I was 8 months pregnant with Micah), and the services have gone through some interesting alterations over that time, with a variety of rabbis or lay leaders involved. Different readings added or removed, new tunes or prayers added in, shortening the service as much as possible (to keep the congregation happy) while still doing enough of the "meat" of the service to make it meaningful for anyone who knows whats being skipped (like, uh, those of us working on the script each year!).

So aside from trying not to sell my children, my current "work load" consists of:

- prepare Torah reading for Aug. 21 (and make sure Sam learns his reading for that day)

- Co-chair the MWJDS Winter Lights Gala, primarily responsible for organizing the Silent Auction (which will have an on-line component again, link coming soon). The newest part of this task is fun - several months ago I attended a Bar Mitzvah Expo, sort of like a wedding expo, where vendors try to get you to hire them. They are all very diligent about calling "to follow up". And since Sam's Bar Mitzvah really is still 2 years away, I have so far been ignoring them, but now I am getting them to donate items to the Silent Auction!

- write my Bio for the synagogue newsletter so they can put in an article about me as the Kallat Maftir Simchat Torah Honoree.

- learn the Haftorah reading for Simchat Torah, too.

- Clean my own junk up, mostly in my room but some in the hallway.

- continue cleaning out the boys' room. I made great progress while Sam was away, but now I have to fight his organizational challenges.