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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gamad V'Anak

In Israel, at least at my kids' schools, Adar (the Jewish month) is a time of chaos.

In addition to a full schedule of mid-year exams, the kids have all sorts of fun days and activities:  Yom Pyjamot (pajama day -- kids and teachers come to school in their PJs), Yom HaTalmid (student day --the 6th graders "teach" classes that day), Shuk Purim (carnival day, run by the 6th graders), etc

They also have two weeks of Gamad V'Anak (Israeli version of "Secret Santa"), when they exchange gifts, culminating in their final gift of "mishloach manot" on the last day before Purim vacation.

Mostly, the kids want candy.  So a good "anak" (giant) gives his/her "gamad" (dwarf) all sorts of different candies.  A lot of kids spend time making creative "packages" for their gamadim.

In our home, I have always encouraged my kids to be creative and make fun gifts for their gamadim, of which the candy is only a part. 

Tonight, when I got home from my support group, I was tired and went straight to bed.

One of my children (who shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty), who should have been in bed already, came and asked for help making a gift for tomorrow.  Specifically, the child wanted a balloon.

It was 9:45 and I was tired.  I did not want to get out of bed to find a balloon.  My creative juices were just not flowing, and I could not think of anything else to do, either.

I suggested that the child just do something simple and stick in a few candies.

The child was quite perturbed and went to bed without preparing anything, angry at me for not helping.

What do you think?

When Moshe got home, he gave me the same advice that I had given him a few days earlier.  This child could easily have made a gift on his/her own.  The request for help, was really a request for attention.

I realized this was an accurate assessment, but I did not really feel like focussing on a child who should have been in bed, asleep.

What do you think?

How much is reasonable for a kid to ask of a parent?

How much should the needs desires of a child influence a parent's actions (or inactions)?

Also, as long as we are on the subject, how much do you spend on this stuff?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Mrs. S. said...

I was going to write a post about Gamad V'Anak later this week!

But in our neighborhood, the gamadim give to the anakim and not vice versa.

Anyway, this year, I was pleasantly surprised when the kids' teachers specified how much the gamadim should spend and also how often they should be giving.

Liba said...

The Anak is my house has only told me that she is responsible for erev shabbos phone calls and sending notes with brachos to her Gamad. I have yet to be asked to provide candy or gifts. I wonder if my kid just knows I will say no (though would I?) or if they have such different rules?

All in all, I try to spend on one one time with my kids as I anticipate they they will need it, preferably before they make my nuts by demanding it. It takes more energy to repair the deficit once they feel they are lacking than to preemptively give. The beads, a trip to the chad pami store, reading them books, an extra minute of snuggles at bed time and life runs more smoothly.

It is harder with teens, who both want and think they don't, at the same time, but I make a conscious effort try to give attention before they know they need it when I can. I find it especially important when I am exhausted and don't have energy for anything. At that point if I can give it quietly while they are happy it is so much easier than dealing with the backlash later.

My kids have simple needs. If I miss bedtime (and their snuggles and singing to sleep) too many nights in a row we all pay with more demanding children during the days the follow. I can see the pattern, and there are times that I can't avoid it. There are times I am not home at bedtime or can't move and let DH take over.

It doesn't always cause my kids to be needier the following day or days, but it often does.

When all else fails, laugh. Do you remember the laughing game? Make a fist and have them open your fingers one at a time. Laugh one laugh more with each finger opened. Ha, ha ha, ha ha ha... We laugh until we cry around here, especially when it feels like there is nothing to laugh about.

Rieshy said...

I saw your comment about how not to homeschool and laughed and then had to find your blog.

As to your question. When you figure out a mathematical formula for balancing needs/desires of child versus parent's actions please forward it to me:)

rickismom said...

I don't think you can find a formula. It is so individual-too many factors. But if once you "Don't do enough", it should be OK if in general you are available and helpful.

Baila said...

I get crazy if the child's need and wants surface after their (and my) bedtime. There is just a point in the night where I just can't be that loving, patient, attentive parent anymore.

They may go to sleep angry, but usually understand in the morning.

michele said...

First, the gamad stuff. I don't know the etiquette so we simply sent our second graders with granola bars. Next time I'll encourage them to be more creative.

As for the demands when they should be in bed, I'm very impatient, especially when they wake up tired the next morning. I do try to explain to them that they are now taking away from my private, personal time, time that I need to work, pay the bills, clean the house and dishes, and simply rest and recharge my batteries so that I can be there for them the next day. This explanation seems to help a little.

Anonymous said...

I have never heard about these festivities. I LOVE them and hope to incorporate them next year.

(Would love to do it this year, but think it's not worth driving myself crazy.)

My kids needs often surface as we are WALKING out the door in the morning. I must admit...I typically don't handle it as well as I should/could/etc.

Ilana said...

My kids say that the gamad (the elf) is the one who gives, like in that story about the shoemaker and the elves.

I find this whole practice a big nuisance for the mothers. This time, though, my son actually wrote funny notes to his Anak with "clues" like "I never fell off a cliff" and "I'm a Hebrew speaker." So that added a bit to the fun.

One of my kids is supposed to give to someone he really dislikes. I do wonder who will eat the cookies I gave him to give to his Anak.

If I were as wise and disciplined as Liba I would do what she does. It sounds like it makes a lot of sense -- but yeah, it is much harder with teens.

Batya said...

Do they still play that? I was always the worst mother because I could never quite figure it out.