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Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Serves me Right

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:07 AM
Monday, January 14, 2013

It all felt very right, very – “communicative.” In the car last week, when my 6 year old daughter asked me a really thoughtful question, “Are all girls born with a teeny tiny baby in their tummy?” I was excited at the prospect of helping her to understand – just a little – about the biological beginnings of a baby.

She already understood that only women get pregnant, and so by extension, it made sense that she would imagine all girls would hold the teeniest, microscopic baby in their tummies until they were finally old enough and ready enough to be Mommies and really ‘grow the babies.’

I told her she was very close in her guess – that when girls go through the process called ‘puberty’ – when a girl’s body goes through many changes and becomes a woman’s body – one of those changes is that she gets ‘eggs’ in a special part of her body called the ‘womb,’ – eggs that are basically “half a baby” only super teeny tiny. (No, I didn’t elaborate, nor did I explain anything about the ‘1 egg per month/period’ thing. Let’s let the child live in a blood-free fantasy world just a bit longer, shan’t we?)

At the same time, I added, boys’ bodies go through puberty and when THEIR bodies change from boys to men, they get these things called ‘sperm’ which also have all the ingredients for half a baby. In this way, when the Mommy and Daddy are finally ready to ‘make a baby,’ the baby is made from the ½ baby in the dad and the ½ baby in the mom, and becomes a ‘whole baby seed’ that grows inside the mom.

The few questions that followed were lively and logical, and didn’t lead us down any paths I couldn’t answer for her 6 year old capacity to understand. (She didn’t wonder too deeply when I contradicted her claim that “that’s why babies can ONLY come when a Mom and Dad get MARRIED” – I did tell her it can happen other ways but that, bottom line, there has to be the ½ from the boy & the ½ from the girl to get the whole things started.

I was faintly glowing all evening from having such a successful ‘mother-daughter’ talk – and then forgot mostly about it until the next evening, when Rachel announced knowingly to her older brother: “Did you know you are pregnant with half a baby? It’s true! Ima told me!”


I think I should have just changed the subject back when I had the chance.



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

And the moral of the story is: Never try to have "that talk" with your child. Ever.

Down with the Fat Cow

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:36 AM
Monday, November 26, 2012


Can I talk to you for a second?

I know, I know – I haven’t written – blogged – for like seventeen years. And I’m telling you, I had my First Blog Back alllll planned. It was gonna reveal why I went dark for so long, and why I’m back now, and so on and so on…

But all that’s now gotta wait till next blog.

Cause right now????

Holy moly.

The other night I got home from a late movie which followed a dinner with friends at the Gordon Ramsey-owned restaurant Fat Cow. You know, that celebrity Hell’s Kitchen 4 Michelin Star chef guy, Gordon Ramsey? Well, here’s a hint:


Yes the Vodka pizza was yummy. But what is up with charging 15 dollars for a pizza and then serving it on a plate that would be dwarfed by my 3 year old’s doll dishes?

And yes the fish and chips was delicious – but also, outrageous – $20 for 2 small pieces of (yes, delicious) fish. Oh right, and about 2 gazillion skinny fries. Speaking of fries -

We ordered fries as an $8 side dish and when about 12 fries came out in a tiny tin pail, I KNEW that place was really shitty. It was like they had taken a pack of MacDonald’s fries, gave us about ½ of the pack and then charged us $8 for it.

But THAT is not even why I’m telling you not to go there. Because – although by the grace of God we had a really sweet, honest, wonderful waitress, Dara… I think seriously they’ve got something on her that forces her to work in that den of Satan’s spawn.

Because this OTHER guy who works there? (Yes, there were more than just 2 employees but the rest were just wussies who hid behind the talking head that was this other guy, Mr. Satan’s Spawn)…

Okay, I already gave it away. This guy was Evil Satan Spawn. In the flesh.

Or he was just a complete asshole.

Either way, it was late – 12:45am – when our movie let out. (Silver Linings Playbook – don’t get me started – the happy ending rocked but come on, this movie is not the best thing since sliced bread) – I was in the 5th floor of the parking garage with my 2 friends who were driving me home (my hubby had gone home after dinner), when the husband-½ of my friends realized he no longer had their car key in his pocket.

We quickly went down to Fat Cow, which was closing, and looked around. ESS (Evil Satan Spawn) and 2 other minions told my friend no key had been found, and my friend went to look in the movie theatre while the wife-½ of my friends and I entered Fat Cow and asked about a missing key.

After some hushed talk, we heard our waitress say that yes, a key had been found and they’d go look for it up in the office because she wasn’t sure where it had been left.

This blog is getting too long (I know, I know, I’m completely out of practice, I suck!) so I’m not going to really get into all the details about how ESS then came back forever later from the office to tell us “there was a key that had been found the day before and it was a rental car key so he’d just take our name, make of our car, and information, and they’d call us if anything turned up” – and then, stunned, how I asked Dara again if a key had been found THAT night and she was like, “yeah, right after you left, under your table, I knew it had to be yours, let me look for it,” and then ESS was like, after I accused him of lying to us about the key and told him we weren’t leaving since we couldn’t leave our car just parked up in the lot and he answered, “well, yeah, that’s why you usually want to take those things with you” in this horribly snarky tone of voice that made me want to strangle him, and I was like WHAT??? And my friend was like, WHAT??? And while he backed off that assholic comment, he  then proceeded to say, “well, we have your information, so you know, tomorrow we can ‘shake some people down’ and if anything turns up we’ll call you” and I was now ready to become an ax murderer and chop this guy up but instead I chose to open up a Pinchas Book (go, Kabbalah) and as SOON as we opened the book Dara came to us with the key that “miraculously” had just been located.

I’m telling you. This place is evil. Except Dara. She’s probably being kept against her will.



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

PS Something is up and WordPress (my blog platform) isn’t letting me pirate images from the internet anymore. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT!!??? So in the meantime, I have no choice but to resort to creating my own images. Don’t get mad at me, get mad at copyright infringement policing!

PPS Wait… um… maybe I didn’t mean that, quite how I wrote it…

PPPS ARGHHHH I’m just a terrible artist, can’t a sister catch a break??? Here goes nothing:

This is the only kind of Fat Cow that ought to be allowed.

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Flashback Friday! (Things I learned while traveling to Austin, TX)

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 11:47 AM
Friday, March 2, 2012

Every Friday, I post an oldie but a goodie blog for your enjoyment. To those of you who just started reading The Grownup Girl recently, enjoy the “new” blog! To those of you who have been with me from the start, but have memories like mine, enjoy the “new” blog!

And to those who were with me from the start and who already read this blog and burned it into your memory, word for word, photogenically, I say:

What are you doing wasting your time dilly-dallying on my website? Get out there and find me a book deal!

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Things I Recently Learned on my Trip to Austin – the BLOG

1. You know how, when you stare at someone in front of you or across the room, they somehow feel you staring and turn to look? I have recently learned that this amazing invisible laser power of our eyes is rendered useless when used on a person who has been locked in the airplane bathroom for close to fifteen minutes. Damn the cryptonic powers of the bathroom door!

2. You know how there are, like, 100 hilarious male comedians, and, like, about 2 good girl ones? I have recently learned that those two good girl ones each just published their own books – BEDWETTER by Sarah Silverman, and BOSSYPANTS by Tina Fey. Don’t borrow them – buy them. Read them, then find yourself crying with laughter and convulsing uncontrollably as other airline passengers pretend not to stare.

3. The FOUR SEASONS has one of the most comfortable beds in the world. And the best blackout curtains ever. I recently learned that I still remember how to “sleep in” when there are no children or husbands around to wake me up. Lunch, anyone?

4. You know how the FOUR SEASONS is supposedly a really swanky hotel? Well, I recently learned that they don’t always answer the front desk phone, and their gym is really small. What’s up with that?

5. While I had met my little sister’s fiancé once or twice, I only recently learned (by hanging out with him & her together the whole weekend) that they are AMAZING TOGETHER and he’s a terrific guy. Go, Sis!!

6. So, moms, you know how when, you stop breastfeeding, your milk goes away after a few days? Well, I have recently learned that even if that happened painlessly & uneventfully with the FIRST two children, going cold turkey with the THIRD child can lead to crazy painful boobs and leaky nipples even though she was already down to one feeding a day.

a. Corollary: Upon returning to town, I learned that Baby was still able to nurse – milk had not disappeared – and my poor achy & sore boobs were happy about that although all plans to wean her have now been thwarted.

7. I recently learned that catching a plane mid-morning in Austin, TX, does not require the 2 hour advance check in that an LAX flight does. More like, 45 minutes, tops.

8. I recently learned that, while people in Austin are nice and smart, they could use some help in the ‘dying gray hair’ category. Also the “wearing fashionable clothes” category.

9. Welcome back home, self! Happy Passover to everyone else… Be back by the end of the week-ish.

EDITOR’S NOTE – weird that I wrote this just over one year ago! Don’t miss the milky leaky boobs but do miss the closeness breastfeeding creates with Baby. Okay, and the bigger boobs. Duh.


Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

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What you do when the Maid goes Away…

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 12:40 PM
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First, cry. Okay, just kidding. I didn’t cry. But when my husband and I decided that we couldn’t afford our twice-a-week housekeeper (who was our kids’ nanny for the past few years, too) I did feel like I had just been punched in the gut. Okay, fine, punched myself in the gut. You see, we don’t have our parents or close family in town, so when it comes to ‘family’ help with the kids, our maid/nanny was as good as it got.

Um… honesty check. My ‘punched in the gut’ feeling had nothing to do with the fact that she was close to our kids. After all, she’s still in town and is still available to babysit here or there for them.

No – My gut was twisted because now I would be responsible for our entire house staying clean.


Alrighty, then! Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’d like to share with you penny-pinchers out there some fantastic tips for making the most out of a housekeeper-less house.

  1. 1. Choose your children’s dresses wisely. As in, don’t let your girls wear the fancy dry cleaning/hand-wash ones. And as you bring that cotton stretchy dress towards your youngest and her face screws up and she cries, “NO! I want to wear a DRESS!” you just flash that Stepford Wife smile, shove it over her head and shout, “Where’s the baby, where did she go?!”
  2. 2. Who even looks at your son’s school pants or your daughter’s school skirts? No one will notice they aren’t ironed, right? As long as you iron their shirts! Right? RIGHT?
  3. 3. Give your kids extra “Light bucks” (earn 26 and they get a free dinner out with mom or dad) for every time they go out of their way to help clean. Strip them of a Light buck every time they refuse to clean up their mess.
  4. 4. Don’t sweat. (Seriously. Because if you sweat, you can’t wear it again.)
  5. 5. Use paper plates and bowls. Consider calculating the money you are spending on paper plates and bowls, but then – quick! – go check your email! (So all you really had time to consider was how much you hate doing dishes.)
  6. 6. Notice how dirty every surface of your house is, start cleaning it all, get overwhelmed, get attacked by killer worms, then go to your computer. You will succeed to apply to 100x more jobs in just one sitting than ever before!

So there you have it, Readers. I don’t recommend quitting (like I did recently) or being fired (like I’ve done in the past) when you don’t have another job lined up. But it happens (or – um – you make it happen, if you are the one who quits), and when it does… now you’re prepared.

You’re welcome!


Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

I think I'll just have my son wear a nice wide scarf over the shirt, then no one will notice the wrinkles! RIGHT?????

Where’s Baby, Where did she Go… To the R Rated Movies? WTF??

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 12:09 PM
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Where’s the Baby, where did he go…

…to the movies?


Safehouse: (n) The R-Rated moving starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds that I spent 2+ hours gripping my husbands arm, wringing it out like a wet towel and slapping his shoulder just so he could UNDERSTAND how exciting and scary and adrenaline-fueled this movie was.

Safehouse: (n) The movie where I saw a mother take her THREE YEAR OLD SON.

Pardon my French, folks, but that is some fucked up shit.

Maybe I should be grateful that it wasn’t Halloween 3? Then again, I don’t ever go to horror movies, so for all I know, there are whole Kindergartens taking field trips to those types of movies.

My husband tried to give the mother the benefit of the doubt – he told me maybe the kid was four. I said, yeah – or, maybe he was two, since our two year old is about his height. (Granted, our 2 year old is an Amazon.)

Either way – WTF??????

It took ME a good 5-10 minutes after the movie just to calm down and remind myself that the movie was a movie and reality is reality. Our subconscious minds don’t know the difference. The subconscious mind of a 3 or 4 year old is about 1000 times more malleable.

And I promise you, I’m really not the kind of mother who rides around on her high horse all day, judging other parents. Granted, I USED to be that person… BEFORE I actually had my own kids.

I’d be at the grocery store or whatever, and when I’d see a mom wailing on her kid – screaming at them or even landing a solid whack on their behinds… And I would be SO self righteous and judgmental of that mom (in my head). Like, “I would NEVER lay a finger on my child!”

Yeah, right.

Cause then I had a child.

And then I had another child.

And, parents – you know that feeling, how you want to physically hurt any child who dares to lay a finger on your precious child? Yeah… now, imagine seeing your older child wail on your younger child. Suddenly, you want to go crazy on the child who hurt your child… but that is ALSO your child.

Uh-oh…. Exactly. My internal wires get all messed up and yes, I have wound up on more than one occasion (even in public) screaming at my kids or even giving one of them a pretty solid whack.

So it is from down here… very low to the ground, not anywhere NEAR a high horse, where I kneel down and plead to the mamas and papas taking their babies to R-Rated films…

Leave the baby home.

Nuff said.



Parents - is this REALLY the image you want to float before your little pumpkin's eyes as he or she drifts off into a nightmare-filled slumber?

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Must-Haves for the New Parent

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 11:37 AM
Monday, February 6, 2012

Enough with Grey’s Anatomy and party girl days of yore! (for today) It’s time to take this wisdom I have painstakingly acquired over all these thirty-COUGH years  of my life, and the decade (minus-two years) of marriage, and pay forward the incredible wisdom I have hard-earned as the mother of four kids I mean three kids and one husband. Wife of one husband. You know what I mean.

So here it is, folks – for all you new parents, soon-to-be new parents, old parents who like a good laugh, and never-will-be-parents who enjoy a good laugh at someone else’s expense:


1. Towels. Because kids spill shit. My parents still remember the song I made up when I was about 4 or 5, the chorus of which went something like, “and I SPILL my apple juice…” Spilling our apple juice was a fact of life when we were children, and your kid will be no different. Suck it up. Or rather, wipe it up. Have that towel on hand – always.

2. Wipes. Because you never want to be stuck like I was, in a mall in Israel, surrounded by disapproving Israeli mothers (who are WAY better mothers than we are, by they way, just ask them) as you wash your child’s poopey bum in the sink because you FORGOT THE DAMN WIPES.

a. Yes, the obvious corollary is “Diapers”… but actually, it is MORE important to have wipes. Think about it.

b. Plus, wipes are better at cleaning stains than Tide or Oxy Clean, and they take off boogers from a wall in a pinch. Trust me on that one.

3. Patience. Duh.

4. Peek-a-boo. Moms, dads – get that shit wired.  Because there will come a time – usually about every twenty minutes, give or take, every day of every week, until your child is around 10, you will need to use Peek-a-Boo. When your child is in a terrible mood, often the ONLY thing that will distract him or her (without the long-term teeth-rotting effects of candy or brain-rotting effects of TV) is Peek-a-boo. It’s genius.

a. Don’t limit yourself to hiding the eyes, by the way. Peek-a-boo is the ONLY way my Racheli would allow me to dress her from age 2, and it STILL works (she is five and a half). When dressing them (in something they don’t want to wear, like “pants” or a “shirt,” or anything non-princessy/fashion-y/high heels-y/S.W.A.T.-team-y for the boys), here’s what you do: jam the shirt on as fast as humanly possible over their head and then before they have a chance to scream, you shout, “Where’d Racheli go?? Where did she go???!!!” (Silence. You will have peaked the kid’s interest. Trust me.)

When their head pops through the neck hole, cry with real surprise: “Racheli!? Where did you come from?!” Then after they finish laughing and before they realize what has happened and start to scream, you jam a hand in the sleeve and shout, “Where’s Racheli’s hand? Oh my goodness, where in the world did her fingers GO??”

And so on.

You are welcome.


Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Don't look now, baby... but you're wearing that shirt you hate! Aren't you a cutie pie, yes you arrrreeeee....

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Flashback Friday! (Breastfeeding Bites – and so will your Baby)

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 12:13 PM
Friday, January 13, 2012

Every Friday, I will post an oldie but a goodie blog for your enjoyment. To those of you who just started reading The Grownup Girl recently, enjoy the “new” blog! To those of you who have been with me from the start, but have memories like mine, enjoy the “new” blog!

And to those who were with me from the start and who already read this blog and burned it into your memories, word for word, photogenically, I say:

What are you doing wasting your time dilly-dallying on my website? Get out there and find me a book deal!

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below. But don’t miss the adorable baby photos at the very bottom of this page!

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Breastfeeding bites

Ah, the heavenly joys of breastfeeding. A small helpless infant, suckling at your breast, while fairies float by and Disney music tinkles in the background…

Wha-? Oh, excuse me. I must have fallen asleep reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

Truth hurts. And so does breastfeeding. At least for the first week. The first few weeks. Hey, for many of us, the first few months are sheer terror, if we even make it that far. I was the most unprepared for my first child’s iron lockjaw clamp on my nipples, since all I had done in preparation for having a child was taking a natural birthing class with a woman my husband & I dubbed “the Bradley Birth Nazi”. She scolded us constantly, and actually yelled at my husband once when he was having trouble understanding her. She had told us in no uncertain terms that breastfeeding was the most natural, pleasant and wonderful thing in the world.


Hey – sorry for that interruption. I just fell off my chair laughing.

Within the first few months of breastfeeding my first born, I survived two clogged milk duct infections (fever, soreness, aches, misery – coupled with just having given birth and still not having slept more than a couple hours at a time, you can guess how much fun I was having at that point), weeks of bleeding nipples (sorry, all you men who accidentally thought this blog was gender neutral. I’ll see you at the next blog, ok?); I mean, the pain each time he latched on – my nipples getting yanked, twisted and pinched by the iron vice grip that was his mouth (NO I’m not into that, perv), and the feeling that all the life force was being drained out of me every time he suckled… The Womanly Art. Indeed.

It got better. After countless nursing specialists who all threw up their hands in defeat, my son finally grew out of the nightmare gumming/nursing phase, helped along by a friend who did energy work on him. I survived the long days and the long nights of nursing hell. (Did I mention he had reflux which means he basically projectile “spit up” half the milk he drank after each feeding? My clothes from that time looked fantastic.)

I actually wound up becoming one of those champions of nursing, one of those moms who will just whip it out and serve her boy some mid day snack (UNDER the breastfeeding blanket, thank you very much… I mean ladies, come on. I’ve had 3 kids and I don’t like to see a baby sucking a bare boob while I’m ordering dinner).

My 2nd child was a great nurser from the get-go. And the 3rd? Fine at sucking, but she got a yeast infection in her mouth, tongue thick with a white paste that wouldn’t budge. The yeast made my boobs experience the worst shooting pains imaginable, at all hours of the day & night, until I finally managed to get rid of it. Twice. (Men – seriously, WHAT are you doing still reading this?? I warned you!) So, Ladies, as I was saying… I had to use this purple dye stuff – Gentian violet something or other – to kill the yeast in the end. Horrible.

Hey! G-friends? Where are you going?? I didn’t even get to the part when they start teething…!


Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

She's coming for me!

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Fun Things to Do While You’re Sick

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 12:25 PM
Monday, December 5, 2011

This past week I got a really bad cold, so naturally I felt like I was dying. For some reason, I’ve become a healthy purist in recent years, and I no longer take pain medication or over the counter cold remedies. I rely solely on homeopathy and my own immune system to bounce back from illness.

I’m not against western medicine – I’d take antibiotics or whatever was necessary if it was the only way I could get better – but I’ve learned over the past 7-8 years that I really don’t need as many meds as doctors (and my own hypochondriac mind) would lead me to believe. This system of not over-medicating has paid off – the fewer meds I take, the less sick I get. But once in a blue moon, I still get knocked down by a virus, and last week was such a moon.

In the absence of mind-altering and/or sleep-inducing meds, I had to come up with other ways to pass the couple of days I was out of commission. I came up with a few great ideas, which I thought I’d pass along to you in case you ever find yourself in a similar predicament.


1. Throw up! What better way to prove to your spouse, kids, and self that you are REALLY sick and not just faking it so you can have a day off from dealing with work and kids? Barfing. I did it, and it was awesome.

2. Never get out of bed, for over 24 hours! This one is especially fun when you’ve got three kids. Just look at Dad getting them all dressed for school! Fed and clothed! Bathed and brushed! Okay, maybe not brushed. And maybe not bathed… but they’re alive! Driven to Karate class on time! Hey honey, can you get me some tea while you’re at it? And more tissues? Love you!

3. Let go! Okay, so my son’s English homework didn’t get done for two days and I don’t think the kids brushed their teeth in two days and Esther’s diaper didn’t get changed before bed and the house still looks like a small tribe of Indians took over and then left suddenly when the winter downpour started, but it’ll all work out, somehow, right? Right?? RIGHT??

4. Stay in your pajamas for two days! Wear your husband’s favorite warm sweater, sweat profusely in it, then crank the heat some more, it’s freezing!

5. Test the limits of your hair! No hairbrush, no shampoo, no grooming. Never mind that my hair looked like a wind-swept collection of winter leaves. Think of it like a science experiment mixed with a preschool art experiment. In your hair.

6. Test the limits of your feeble illness-inflicted brain! Don’t venture outside for two days, and when you finally take the plunge, realize you have no idea where your purse is. Almost give up on your outing and then realize your purse is already on your shoulder. How did it get there? Magic.

My husband did an excellent job taking care of our 3 kids for two days while I languished in bed sick and watching half of season 7 of Grey’s Anatomy. (Leave me alone – I said I was sick, not blind.) Still, even with all my fun new activities, it’s good to be back among the living.


Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

See! For just one day and one virus (and no hairbrush), you too can have this fantastic fashion-forward look.

Flashback Friday! (Boy Talk)

posted by Sheva 8:35 AM
Friday, November 11, 2011

Flashback Friday!

Every Friday, I will post an oldie but a goodie blog for your enjoyment. To those of you who just started reading The Grownup Girl recently, enjoy the “new” blog! To those of you who have been with me from the start, but have memories like mine, enjoy the “new” blog!

And to those who were with me from the start and who already read this blog and burned it into your memories, word for word, photogenically, I say:

What are you doing wasting your time dilly-dallying on my website? Get out there and find me a book deal!

BTW, if you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Boy Talk – the BLOG

What the hell, man?

I’m a mother. I’m nurturing, caring, sensitive, forgiving… soft. Which is the best way to treat a child, right?

My husband? He can be soft, nurturing, sweet…

Flashback: to my son’s first day of homework for the new year of 1st grade, with his new strict teacher.

So, I’m helping my son get his homework done, we do some good reading together, but when it’s time for him to write his spelling words, he balks. He dreams. He doodles. All in all, he spends almost 45 minutes at the table without even writing the first word.

And me? I’m getting worried, angry, frustrated, concerned. Is this all he’ll amount to? (I know, I know. I’m just being honest here, I’m not defending myself or anything.) Will his teacher judge him, give up on him? Does he lack focus? Motivation? A love for learning? Is he tired? Hungry? Worn out?

I decide, yes, one of these last choices for sure, so when he tells me decisively he’s not going to do his homework ‘right now,’ I cave. I give him his shower and some extra time in the water just to chill out & play. I start fixing dinner and think to myself he’ll have more energy, more focus after he eats dinner (never mind that I already fed him apples and Pirates Booty snack).

As I’m cooking – oh let’s be honest, re-heating – I hear my husband come into the dining room, dragging my son with him. Roughly, he forces our child to sit with him. Then, my husband does what in my opinion, he all too often does – he picks a fight with our son. He rough-houses with him, rough-handles him, makes him cry, scream, flail. Which only makes my husband double his effort to even get more control over &/or more of a rise out of him – which one, I’m not sure even he knows.

My husband even pulls me into it at one point – “you wanted him to do his homework, now, don’t disappear!” and I’m stunned because I hadn’t wanted it to go like this, not like this.

I stammer something and retreat to the kitchen. This happens twice. My shoulders are hunched to my ears as I prepare the food.

How could he do this?

Why didn’t he consult with me first?

Why does he always DO this with our son… push him like this?

And finally when my head is about to burst, I hear –


Because my son is suddenly focused on his homework. He is doing it methodically, and doing it well.

My son finishes quickly, and shows me his work. Glowing with pride. Afterward, he is still so happy, he hugs me and kisses me repeatedly.

What the–?

It calls to mind what a good friend of mine, Hugo Schwyzer, who is a professor in the field of Gender Studies, told me the other night. He is a very liberal, VERY liberal guy (at least in the social/personal side of life – don’t get him started about economics). So I was surprised to hear what he had to say about this subject… He told me that most boys, like my son, have been willful and undisciplined, wild and refusing to listen since the beginning of time.

So, he asked – what is the difference these days? How did those boys of yesteryear wind up quiet and obedient – in class, in Boy Scouts, in the army, etc.? Versus these days, when we hear endless stories of boys bouncing off the wall in classrooms?

His answer: the boys were physically disciplined. They were hit, smacked, shaken, screamed at. Teachers and parents, up until about 30 years ago, disciplined boys like this all over America, with stunning results.

The boys settled down and fell into line.

I am a pacifist. I don’t believe violence is ever the answer. [Side note: I actually took a semester in high school with Coleman McCarthy on pacifism, where he wouldn't give us any grade but A because he thought grades were a form of violence. Nice work for a student if you can get it.]

And yet…

When my husband roughed up my son, they traveled through a very uncomfortable space (for me) of high drama and a throw-down face-off… and then… they settled into an efficient, focused and productive work session.

Like I said – what the hell?



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Sure, we all know Ghandi was cool and for peace and everything. But you have to wonder... did his kids ever finish their homework? Doubtful.

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Yom Kippur– LOOK OUT!!!!!

posted by Sheva 1:38 AM
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Remember waaaaaay back in that blog I wrote about driving thru the empty streets of Los Angeles during rush hour on Halloween? Holidays are the best times to drive in LA, since usually they are the only times the city empties out a bit and/or people go home early or stay home from work to prepare for the evening’s festivities.


A glaring exception to this rule is the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which skips around on the calendar depending on when God wants it to be (either that, or according to the lunar calendar, I can’t remember which). But generally falls sometime between August and Thanksgiving.

The reason this holiday can be a true Los Angeles traffic nightmare can be summed up in two sentences:



The key phrase in that last part is the “left to their own devices” bit. By the time most Jews are done with Yom Kippur, they are so hungry, and so cranky, that they can’t see straight. Their blood sugar is low, their emotions high, and that is the exact moment when they…

…take to the streets.

See where I’m going with this?

I remember once, I went to Yom Kippur services at a fancy hotel in Beverly Hills at the Synagogue of the Performing Arts. (No, I’m not kidding. It is not an accident that our city’s nickname is “la la land.”) When it was over, I was stuck in my car, in the midst of thousands of other cars, trying to get out of the garage for thirty minutes.


Do you understand what that translates to in Yom Kippur Years?

Nine years.

In a word: come the hour when Yom Kippur is over, do not walk - RUN! – off the streets of LA entirely, into a secure building with strong walls (preferably one that is miles off the street, in the case of wildly veering SUVs).

If you are not Jewish, let me take this opportunity to educate you: A Jew does not like to be parted from his food. If you need to entertain some Jews, or impress some Jews, or simply not make an enemy out of some Jews, YOU WILL DO WELL TO FEED THEM.

And feed them well.

And get out of their way.


Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Clear the streets and run for the hills, folks!!

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