The Shy and Petite Elf

Posted by mwallach on September 28, 2012 in My Kids |

Dear That’s Life,
I have been called a lot of things over the years, some of which I can put in print and some of which I cannot. Either way, no matter what someone has said, I have never been referred to as “shy” nor have I been called “petite” and certainly not “dainty”. Leave it to my son, however, to add a new word to the list of things I have never been called before: lazy. That was a new one.

The truth is, it is not his fault he felt that way and it sounds much harsher than it actually came out. From his point of view, it may just appear that way lately, simply because I put my back out. Although I am still not sure how I managed to do it, I am confident it had nothing to do with my 5K run last week. No event or heavy lifting caused the injury, it simply just happened. And instead of allowing my body time to heal, I continued to go about my business and, coincidentally, my daily exercise routine.

The repeated aggravating of my injury only made things worse. My chiropractor, who would be sainted if he wasn’t Jewish, actually banned me from the gym. So not only did my son notice I was not exercising, but he also saw me laying down much more often than normal, and at strange times during the day.

I also have a little known but awful habit of falling asleep during dinner on Friday night. I look forward to shabbat and love the rituals which surround this day of rest, but am completed exhausted by the time it rolls around. While I appreciate how annoying it is that I am unconscious right after we eat dinner, and before the table is cleared, I cannot help it.

Frankly: it is the best sleep I get all week. It is about 3 hours of intense REM, which is more than I can say for my nightly attempts in bed. For some reason, the comfort of my bed does not provide as much sleep success as my living room couch. And so it is and has been for years: when the time comes and I am overwhelmed by exhaustion, it takes no less than about five or six minutes for me to be off in never neverland.

In exchange for my annoying behavior, I insist that everything be left in the kitchen for me to clean up. As long as the table is cleared, I will put it all away when I wake, even if that turns out to be at 2am. That’s life, as we say, and I will sleep in the bed that I make for myself. And so, that is exactly what happens. My husband tucks in the kids and puts them to bed, and I clean up, regardless of the time. When the kids wake up shabbat morning, my son must think the elves had been in my kitchen cleaning up as he was asleep. But that would be another word I have never been called: elf.

Last Friday night, however, even that norm was disrupted because of my back. I had taken so much medication right before shabbat had started to relieve the debilitating back spasms that I physically could not move. When it was time, therefore, for dinner to begin, I was already asleep. Finally feeling no pain, but in no state to operate heavy machinery had it been any other day of the week, I was neatly tucked into bed with no intention of going anywhere, until my son walked in to my room. Apparently, it bothered him terribly that I was not at the table to begin the traditional Friday night shabbat dinner, complete with wine, challah and an enormous meal akin to Thanksgiving.

“Mommy,” he said, tears in his eyes, “please come downstairs.” Without so much as moving my lips, I told him I could not go anywhere. Persistent, he would not give up. “Please, Mommy,” he said. “Please come downstairs.” Listening to his voice, however, made me realize just how upset he was that I was not qt the table with the rest of the family. I told him I needed a couple of minutes, but I would be there. At this point, the medication had taken full effect, I felt absolutely nothing, but was not making complete sense either. It was good enough, however, so off I went.

After settling into my seat which is next to his, my son continued. “Ma,” he said, like a doctor about to deliver horrible news to a patient, “I don’t know how to say this: but I think you might be lazy.”

“Mommy – lazy???” said my eldest she said with disbelief, unable to believe what we had all heard. “I don’t think so.” I was curious, however, what made him say that, and so I asked him why he felt that way. “Because every Friday night, you fall asleep on the couch and never make it through dinner,” he replied, “and now you weren’t going to come at all!”

We laughed. I explained the issue with my back. I knew he had meant no harm and that the comment was said rather innocently. I took no offense at all. On the other hand, he could have said, “Ma, you’re a hyperactive ball of incredibly frenetic energy that many people find overwhelming, scary and often times: annoying.” Now that might have been hard to hear.
As Seen in The South Shore Standard Sept ’12

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