My Up the Sandbox Moment...
(Oh so far from the playground)
I didn’t expect it at all. I am a very meat and potatoes type. So, when I had this outer body mother experience, I was so taken by surprise that I actually felt compelled to take pen to paper to record it. My 16 year old son (who shall remain nameless not because he is the one who shall not be named a la Harry Potter, but because he will kill me!) finished a tractate of the Talmud and, as is the custom, a concluding ceremony or service is a nice way to mark the event. For said ceremony a quorum of ten men is traditional. My son, being the typical uptight, (no, he might read this), self-conscious (is that really better?) teenager, he didn’t want to make a ‘big deal’ out of it. My older son encouraged me to press him on this as I was only then informed by said elder son that he himself had finished a tractate by himself at around that age and forgone this marking event only to regret it now. I offered to make it as formal or informal as he would like, ranging from a little supper for close family or barbeque for his friends. None of my suggestions were acceptable (did I mention I’m the mother?).
In any case, soon after his exciting accomplishment we found ourselves at our annual family reunion at a resort. There were going to be 7 males from our family alone and it wouldn’t be too difficult to find 3 others to pull over for a few minutes. It also happened to be Shavuos, the holiday celebrating the Jewish people receiving the Torah from G-d at Mount Sinai, so the occasion seemed ultra karmic (is that sacrilegious?). Finally the day and the hour arrived. We managed to lasso all the members of the extended family at the exact time when not too many people in the dining room. Noise was at a minimum in this shared dining room and we had a corner table. My son was standing in the corner and the all important 10 men in tow – an assortment of uncles, cousins, father, grandfather and perfect strangers while my son read the last lines of the tractate and prepared to say the all important concluding kaddish prayer.
And then it happened. I stood next to him hearing him read the lines. I flashed back to times so far away at this point. I literally got lightheaded and dreamy. I remembered him as a chubby baby nursing and cuddling in my arms. I remembered the playground where he ran wildly from one end to the other where he fell and chipped his front tooth (thank G-d a baby tooth). I remembered the navy blue stretchy with white and blue stripes from Baby GAP that so suited his coloring (and washed so well!).
I focused back to what he was reading, a famous passage about Rabbi Akiva from the time of the destruction of the Second Temple. Rabbi Akiva is famous for having started his serious learning of the Torah at age 40 and there was my beautiful boy of 16 showing such dedication. I beamed as I thought of how my son came to this moment. Unbeknownst to me, over the last several months, he had taken about 10 minutes every morning after he finished his breakfast at school and he was able to complete this volume. Who knew he had such time management skills? I get teary even now thinking of it. Wow, not like me (do you hear my tone of voice??)
The end of the whole thing which took a total of about 10 minutes was perfectly punctuated by a man whom I had never seen before (I don't even know his name) beaming with pride. One of the strangers who graciously agreed to join in our family simcha (aka joyous event) to complete the quorum seemed almost as proud as I was. He listened carefully as my son read the last lines of the Talmud and nodded in recognition of the famous story. After it was over, he came over to me and said with a big smile, may you have much nachas (Yiddish for pride or enjoyment) from him. I have, I do, and I so appreciate that wonderful bracha (blessing) from the generous stranger. Most important, I so appreciate this G-d given blessing of an outstanding son. I thanked G-d for bringing this precious child and to this day.