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Whose Kid is that Anyways?

May 27, 2009

Do you ever sit back and watch some poor parent have to deal with his screaming, crying kid throwing a temper tantrum for everyone to see? It’s a pleasure to know as a parent that you have lived through that tremulous period of life and can now empathize with other parents facing the scourge of their monstrous kids.

 

“Do you see this?” I asked Judy sitting next to me at Shabbat services. No, what, she asked. “The two kids are kissing and hugging and now they’re chasing each other around the stage.” She saw the chasing part but missed the real entertainment before it.

The rabbi sitting a few rows back walked up behind us and said, I hope you don’t write about this in your blog. I laughed. Why would I write about something as mundane as a plethora of little kids rising to the bimah on Saturday morning? I had witnessed a spectacle that woke me from my 2 1/2-hour-Hebrew-prayer-induced-semi-snooze but unless I video taped it and showed it on America’s Funniest Videos or on YouTube, the shenanigans would soon be forgotten.

After the services, I laughed to the rabbi, saying I thought it was kind of cute. Heck, the boy and girl were maybe 4 or 5 years old and yeah, they didn’t understand the sanctity of Shabbat services or being a few feet from the Torah scrolls, but kids will be kids, I thought. I wasn’t sure if the rabbi was joking or serious when he said he didn’t think it was cute at all.

This was the same rabbi who officiated years before a mock marriage ceremony of my son’s friend to my son, dressed in his friend’s mother’s dress and shoes. They were learning about Jewish rituals and what better way to learn than to participate in a semi-actual wedding a few years before same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts. We took a video tape of the occasion and laughed at the dress and shoes that Bev Yost donated to Kyle to wear for the big occasion. I mean it was the synagogue’s executive director’s son who was getting married to ours and she was the executive director’s wife. Kyle, agreeing to be his friend’s fictitious “wife,” didn’t mind being the big husky kid in a dress and high heels, looking a little like Rudy Giuliani in drag. 

Of course, we were all a part of the educational service which wasn’t intended to be funny. But how can you not laugh at a boy dressed in drag? I still have photos of my brother, Kenny, dressed as a girl in a Halloween party at the Palace for the Detroit Pistons first home game in 1981. It’s hard not to laugh at it, even if the laughter kind stings a little bit now.

Kids don’t always mean to be funny when they get in trouble, but years later, we can laugh at their antics. It wasn’t supposed to be funny, for instance, when I opened the door to my dad’s car in the first year of the Kennedy administration, sat on the front seat, and pulled the transmission lever into reverse. The car started moving until it smacked my great grandfather’s car and left a big dent in both. My great grandfather didn’t find the actions of his great grandson very cute when he got the car repair estimate. Neither he nor my parents wanted to pay for it, and I certainly didn’t have enough money in my piggy bank to get both cars fixed.

I was not a very good kid, as reported to me over the years. I slept poorly, had bouts of colic, had unruly tonsils, rocked back and forth in the car, and liked to bite people. My cousin, Jeff, said recently he remembered sticking his finger in front of my mouth to test me and I fell for the trick, taking a big chunk out of his knuckle. And I became infamous around my neighbors when a neighbor boy talking to my parents suddenly burst out screaming. It turned out that I sunk my teeth into his tush (buttocks, rear end, or whatever word suits your fancy.) When I asked my parents how old I was, they thought I was maybe five or six. I thought, jeez, how could I be that bad in kindergarten? I had always thought I bit people when I was younger than two but grew out of my Dracula-themed need.

At least, I didn’t take a chunk out of a boy on the bimah at the synagogue.

I can think of a lot of good Yiddish words for trouble-making kids like me or the two smoochers at shul. How about this? I was a pisher who acted like a shmendrick with a lot of chutzpah as I noshed on some tuches.

Do you ever sit back and watch some poor parent have to deal with his screaming, crying kid throwing a temper tantrum for everyone to see? It’s a pleasure to know as a parent that you have lived through that tremulous period of life and can now empathize with other parents facing the scourge of their monstrous kids.

Now, I just sit back and laugh at the trouble makers and pretend it’s a scene from America’s Funniest Videos or wait for the day when I have to be subjected to a grandparent’s nightmare: an embarrassing grandchild, driving the adults nuts, without any shame or guilt.

When I’m 64, I will make sure I’m wearing a baseball cap and when the moment comes when my grandson does something stupid, slide the bill down over my eyes and say to myself like Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes: “I see nothing. Whose kid is that anyways?”

 

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