I mentioned in my last post that our most recent Tot Shabbat didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. And I promised a followup post to explain.
So, the first mention I made of Tot Shabbat, I described how difficult it was because J got so clingy, and wanted my undivided attention. I ended up holding a squirming, wriggling 40-pound kid for much of the hour-long service, and then suffered days of searing backache as a reminder that this was NOT the right way to do it!
A lovely friend, who just today posted on her own blog that she is retiring from Jewish education, posted some great suggestions on Facebook, in response to that post. Her ideas were:
- Preplanning – remind him of the order of the service, what you’ll be doing, and what he’ll be doing;
- Can you practice part of it at home?
- Is there a special role or responsibility he can have during specific parts of the service?
- Depending on his age, can the two of you agree on a nonverbal sign you can use when you “catch him being good” during the service
We did #1 – both on Thursday and of Friday night, and we also got buy-in from big brother S that if he was there, then J would be happy and not bother me.
#2 we didn’t manage to fit in.
#3 – I asked him if he would help me sing, as he likes to sing, and also if he would help me pick out the book we would read.
#4 – we agreed that my hand on my heart would mean that he was doing great, and then S wanted to get into the act, and wanted me to give him “thumbs-up” for good behavior, “thumbs-down” for bad behavior, and “thumb waggling in the middle” for so-so.
By the time we went to bed Friday night, I was feeling a little overwhelmed.
Well, S remembered that he had pledged to help me, and he did, with gusto!
J, didn’t remember so well. I didn’t have too many opportunities to put my hand on my heart for him. Sigh. S did help to keep him occupied a bit, and Dad actually was in the room for most of the time, and took J out twice when he was just too disruptive. At the end of the hour, Dad told me that he now understood why I was so tired last month!!
I guess that counts for something.
Tot shabbat is officially on summer break, and I can only hope that the summer months will provide enough maturation to J that by the time we resume in the fall, he will no longer feel the need to cling to me like a barnacle!