Monday, April 18, 2011

My Four Children

It was recently pointed out to me that I have FOUR children.

And then I thought about it and did a big ol' head smack. Right! I have FOUR children. Just like in the Seder.

The wise.
The wicked.
The simple.
And the one who doesn't know how to ask.

So...all week, I've been musing about whether or not my four children fit into the model of the Big Four. Do I have one of each?

David could be the Wise child. After all, he is the oldest. He is really bright and seems to know a lot. He remembers what we have taught from year to year and he's excited to show off his knowledge. He is also wise in the sense that he is excited to teach it all to his siblings.

Solly is obviously the one who doesn't know how to ask. Too young to do much more than drool or nap through the Seder, he will certainly gain the capacity over the years, God willing.

That leaves the Wicked and the Simple children. And I must admit that neither of my remaining little people fall into these categories...all the time. I can certainly consider various times that both of them might be considered the "wicked" one - the times when they refuse to participate, when they throw back to me comments that are meant to hurt, knowing how important this all is to me. Statements like, "I don't want to learn how to say the four questions," or "Do we HAVE to go to Seder?" are clearly designed to get my goat (Passover pun alert) but I also know that they are young and will probably turn into the Wise children as time goes on...and sometimes they are both the Simple children. They don't quite know exactly what this is all about, because they are young and it seems so complicated. So for them we must make the Seder fun and engaging, so that their memories of the Seder are warm and welcoming, so that in time they will WANT to learn more, to grow more, to be more and do more.

So maybe I've got it all wrong. It doesn't seem quite right to categorize my children in such a definitive way. After all, even though I said that David could be the Wise child, he also has the capacity for refusing to participate, for challenging and questioning the whole foundation and purpose of the Seder. And it seems unfair to categorize Solly before he's even half a year old, for goodness' sake!

I think what the Seder is getting at with this idea of Four Children is the same lesson that I try to remind myself of every day as I interact with my children: each of them are unique in their own way. I have to meet them where they are, at the place and time that they are. Some days, it might be in a wise place. Some days, it might be a simple place. Some days, it might even be a wicked place. And some days, they might not even know what to say or how to ask.

And then I just hold them tightly and tell them I love them.

Chag sameach...a zissen Pesach. 
May this holiday bring blessings and joy to you and all your loved ones.


John Sklar said...

There was a great amount of joy watching the kids put the seder plate together and talk about the seder... I thought they all seemed pretty wise tonight.

That's what the seder is about. Sharing this story with our children.

Batya said...

It's said that all four "sons" are within us at times.

I love that family portrait.

Chag Sameach!!