Tag Archives: kids

How To Screw Up Your Kids Less

23 Feb

I saw a great quote on someone’s blog attributed to Maya Angelou. (Maya Angelou, like Ghandi, the Dalai Lama and “the Gemara”, is one of those people who get stuck onto anonymous quotes by people looking to give them some power by association, so don’t quote me on the source.) Anyhow the quote goes: “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” I think that’s especially true for kids. If you dig deep down with a hypnotist or something, you might figure out why you hate your parents or whatever, but the feeling comes from somewhere.

Kind of unrelated, here’s a quote I think every parent should keep in mind when they deal with their kids: With no power, comes no responsibility. If you want your child to “act responsibly”, it’s up to you to give them some power. Over their own lives, over choices, friends, etc. This “protecting” your kids from everything fucks them up more than anything they could ever see on tv or learn from a child their own age.

Incidentally- it’s amazing how you have professionals come and speak in town about internet safety, bullying, drinking, ADD, anything under the sun- and the place is packed with parents. But even mentioning the psychological fact that parents are screwing up their kids more than every other possible factor out there is faux pas. Why don’t we have professionals coming in and saying that these 3 things, x, y, and z, that 75% of you are doing will screw up your kids more than anything else? To put it a little bluntly, it’s much easier to go around changing everybody else (including your kids) than to change yourself, that’s why.


The Incredible Dreidel

26 Dec

For anyone else who liked Shmuel Kunda tapes, here’s a track from The Incredible Dreidel of Feitel Von Zeidel (song starts at 1:00 minute in). I used to listen to this tape as a kid and loved it.

Not to be too depressing, but I thought I should mention that I knew R’ Kunda, A”H, from Camp Na’arim, and he was a genuinely nice, funny person. I used to think of him as a jolly, fat 50 year old kid on a golf cart. I think that might be why kids like his tapes so much. He didn’t design a product for the child market. He created stuff that he actually found funny and enjoyable. He was a very talented, special man.

Update: I just looked online and found a video of Rabbi Kunda taken Jan 2011. Then I searched for him online and found out it was his WIFE who recently passed away, not him. Sorry about that. Till 120.

Random Thought: Dreams

18 Oct

I think I’m finally making some psychological progress. Last night I had a dream that this rich, stuck up, momma’s boy I was jealous of in elementary school pansted me in public while I was picking something up from the floor for the teacher, and I punched the kid in the face but it didn’t seem to hurt him, so I kept punching him in the face until the teacher started yelling at me, and nobody would listen to me about what the other kid did-  pretty routine stuff. But last night the teacher was actually a hybrid of my uncle and boss. Kids don’t have bosses! Hell yeah, dream!

You’re So Mean!

8 Sep

It sucks to be a kid in this world. A few days ago, when I was visiting some relatives, I overheard a conversation between one of these relatives and her daughter. Not the whole thing. I started paying attention when the girl -a “tween”- started crying about not being able to get something she wanted for school. The mother, agitated, responded to the crying by blaming the girl for being too into her looks and clothing, and lecturing her on how she always gets like this, and this is why she can’t get stuff, etc. The girl still crying, finally just yells, “You’re so mean!” and storms off.

I couldn’t help thinking, “Yes! You are so fucking mean!” As an outsider to the conversation, it’s almost incredible how adults don’t empathize with their own kids. The kid is so broken up by not having the ‘right’ clothes to go to school with that she’s crying out loud. If another adult was so upset, who wouldn’t go over and try to comfort them? “I know how important this is to you. I wish I could, but we just don’t have the money to buy all that.” Or, “I remember how bad it feels. Why don’t we have some ice cream now instead, ok?”

But I understand the mother’s side too. She just spent an hour shopping with a child who keeps asking for everything, and she doesn’t have a handle on it anymore. “Why are you doing this to me? I’m trying to help you! I could buy you a towel and you’d have to wear it. Instead, I’m spending all my free time getting you stuff so that you’ll appreciate me- because God knows my husband doesn’t have two kind words to rub together after 15 years of marriage- and all you do is tell me how I’m not good enough!”

The problem is that she’s the adult and she doesn’t have to explain herself to her child- who won’t understand anyhow. She can use whatever tricks she has to get the kid to shut up, with no consequences- for chrissakes,  I’m listening to all this and can’t find the balls to tell her to stop. Well, no consequences until the girl is grown up and living 1000 miles away with some rich guy somewhere and never calling home.

Dr. Lloyd Demause reports that he cannot find a single case of a parent from before the 18th century who would not have been thrown in jail for child abuse today. I doubt future generations will have kinder things to say about us.

Why Do Women Like Kids?

25 Aug

Why aren't there more Amazons?

I was thinking last night how great it is that women like kids. I mean, they really like them, even when the parents aren’t around. It really works out well because if it was up to men, I think there would be very few kids around.

Is it a psychological thing, mother’s love? Do women have kids because they are naturally weaker than men and can’t compete in the getting resources/aggressive role, so historically, they’ve adjusted their worth to being in terms of having and nurturing kids for the males, or having males themselves?

If so, then this forced, default value system is really lucky because otherwise there would be no continuity. It seems like someone would have set the system up this way, like God.

Or maybe this is evolutionarily-based. The only members of the weaker sex (or women) that survived in the tribe were those that were submissive to the men. Maybe the women that survived better were the ones that were naturally more submissive. And if we go with this theory, maybe there’s a gene in the human race that makes some people dominant and another gene that makes others submissive. The submissive gene could be like blond hair- either sex can get it, but it’s only helpful for females. And the aggressive one is only helpful for males. But both are passed down equally to the sexes, and men have to pretend to be aggressive, and women, the opposite.

Could we ever test if such genes exist, or if the whole thing is entirely psychological? Assuming that either one of these theories is correct. Maybe one of you who’ve learned some science past the yeshiva high school level can shed some light here.

Bottlecap Baseball News

26 Jul

“Hey, that’s home!” a fat kid yelled from the other end of the room. “Can you sit somewhere else?” He looked like he was almost Bar Mitzvah, and I wondered how he got away with skipping Mincha. His white shirt was half tucked in and his shoelaces were untied.

“Uh, sure,” I said, and closed my sefer. I thought I’d be able to watch safely from a distance, but apparently I was in their way.

A short and skinny redhead shouted that he didn’t want Yudi on his team. A tall boy, who until then had seemed focused on his own game of kugelach, got up quietly and walked out. Above us, I could hear the floor boards creaking in unison with “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh,” and I thought of shaleshudes. Mayonnaisey tuna salad floated by inside my mind and somehow got stuck there. I wasn’t a regular here, only dropped in becuase my editor called me into his office and said he wanted a piece on bottlecap baseball.

“Bottlecap baseball?” I asked.

“Shtiebel baseball, whatever,” he said. “You know the game — you flick the soda caps?”

I knew the game.

“Find out how the new Pepsi bottlecap design is affecting game play,” he said.

I figured shaleshudes would be the best time to catch a live game, so I’d stopped into this dinky shul at the corner – “Eisenman’s,” everyone called it, although it probably had a real name you could make out a check to — and settled into a chair in the downstairs social hall.

There was a small kitchen area off to the side, with a few half-eaten plastic plates of chulent — leftovers from the morning kiddush, I presumed — piled high in the trashcan. The rest of the space was wide open, aside from three metal beams down the center.

I got up and walked over to the fat kid at the other end of the hall.

“Hey, listen, can I talk to you for a minute? What’s your name?”

“Dovid Katz.”

“You guys playing baseball here?”

“Yeah. Uh, I need to go. They’re choosing teams.”

“Well, I hear there’s a new bottlecap on the market now. How’s it affecting your playing strategy?”

Long pause.

“Are you a pedophile?”

“No. No. Ha ha. Actually, I work for a newspaper, and we’re doing a piece on this.”

“Ha! On bottlecap baseball?” His face brightened. “Cool.”

The place got a little quieter and Dovid turned around. “What team am I on?”

“Hitting,” came the response.

Dovid went to speak to another kid, who then walked over with him to where I was sitting.

“This is Yossi.”

“Hi, Yossi. I’m Mr. Dicker. I report for–”

“I told him already. Yossi’s the best player here. You could talk to both of us when we’re not up.”

Yossi smiled. “What’s going on?”

He was a little shorter than Dovid, but looked more athletic. I asked him about the new Pepsi cap.

“Well, you know, it’s harder and smaller, which some guys think will make a difference. Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal. Hitting, definitely not. I mean, you just smack it with your hand, you know? Pitching, though, it’s a tiny bit faster on the fastball. Goes in real hard. You could really break something with it though, so you have to be careful at home. I tried to dent the metal door upstairs in the back of the shul, but I couldn’t.”

Dovid piped in here. “There are a few dents in it. Shloime Becher, see him–” he nodded at a skinny kid playing first base. “His brother Yankie, who’s in high school, said there was a kid here when he was our age who put those dents in it.”

“Yankie’s a liar,” Yossi cut in. “I tried for a half hour after kiddush last week and I couldn’t do anything.”

“I’m just saying-”

“Anyhow, the main thing is the curve, and the change-up.”

“You can throw a change-up?” I asked.

Dovid cut in. “I can too. It’s shmicks.”

“Wow. Not bad, I want to see that,” I said.

“I’ll do one, ok?” Yossi said. “I’ll look at you before I throw it.”


“Anyhow, the curve is worse with the new cap. Let me show you.” He walked over to the fridge and pulled off a Pepsi cap leaving the bottle open. He showed it to me together with a regular white one.

“You get much less drag with it because it’s heavier and thinner. There’s not enough to get a good throw in.”

“You want to hear about Shmuel Duvid?” Dovid asked me.

“Uh, sure.”

“Don’t tell him,” Yossi said. “It’s not nice. It’s loshenhora.”

Dovid was too excited. “Shmuel Duvid was a Chassidishe kid who used to daven here, and he taught us all how to throw the curve ball. He was, like, a big vilde chaya.”


“What? His father called him that in front of all of us! And Mr. Greenspan called him a maniac!”


“So Shmuel Duvid once grabbed the cake plate at kiddush and it fell on the floor. And his father yelled at him and pulled him away from the table, and made him sit at the door of the shul. But when he was leaving, he took a cap off the table, and he shot it all the way from the chair and curved it around the Rav’s head and it hit his father in the face. And his father went crazy and they never came back here.”

I must have had the wrong expression on my face, because Dovid tried to clear it up.

“No, like, cause his father couldn’t see him, so he kept on saying it wasn’t him. But everyone knew.”

I laughed. “That’s a pretty crazy story.”

“What’s the matter with you?” Yossi said to Dovid, “Can’t you keep your mouth shut ever? I’m going to play baseball.”

I watched them play for a little. Yossi did throw an awesome change-up, but he didn’t look at me first. I left after a few minutes to wash before it got totally dark. As I was leaving, Yossi ran over to me and asked me not to print the story about Shmuel Duvid, just “the baseball stuff.”

“Nu, nu,” I said, motioning with my hands and nodding. What a sweet kid. Too bad loyalty to 12-year-olds doesn’t give you business desk promotions.

Cross-posted on Unpious.com