Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

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A Potato Chip by Any Other Name….

From time to time I post stories about things I learned from my toddler grandson. We really do learn a lot from our children and grandchildren.

So the other day when my grandson who is turning three next month corrected me on my terrible vocabulary mistake, I realized how important language is and how we need to pay attention to our words.

I asked him how he was enjoying his “chips” which is what he calls “potato chips.” Without skipping a beat and barely swallowing said chips, he corrected me, “It’s NOT chips, Omi! It’s Bissli.”

 

Oh my! How could I make such a serious mistake?! You all know that Bissli and Potato Chips are two entirely different snacks and here I had the audacity to imply they were one and the same.

Lesson learned: Watch your language; you will be called on it.

I think there is much to be said about calling things by their appropriate names. About a month ago, I wrote a thank you card to a friend who had done a huge favor to me. She commented later to me that she appreciated that I spelled her name correctly. Apparently, she spells her first name differently from the typical way to spell that name. Without divulging who she is, here’s an example: If her name is “Judy,” she spells is “Judie.” Or if her name is Rebecca, she spells it Rebeka. And she was glad that I – unlike many others – remembered to spell it correctly on the card.

I thought of my grandson and how he was particular not to confuse the names of Bisly and Pringles. And I realized that I’m going to pay attention to other people’s desires for precision in spelling, pronunciation and vocabulary usage. If it doesn’t make a difference to me, why annoy the other person with sloppiness?

A person’s name is precious to him or her. He or she values a name. So the next time you buy a canister of Pringles,

 

don’t you dare call them potato chips.

 

 

Or Bissli……………

Call them by their proper name, or you WILL be corrected. By your toddler or pre-school aged grandson.

Show respect for words and their meanings. Don’t ever say, “Oh it’s the same thing….let’s not make a big deal.”

Because it is a big deal. Words matter.


“Nachas,” Grandchildren and Facebook

facebook-like

I’m a Nachas-ist. Yep. You read right. I’m addicted to “nachas.” Now, nachas – (pronounced nakh-es) according to the dictionary is Yiddish for joy or blessings,pride especially from one’s children and grandchildren.

The truth is that there is no English word or phrase that captures the exact nuance of what nachas is. Not one of the words – joy, pride, blessed feeling – conveys the true meaning of what we know to be “nachas.”

Nachas is so unique to the Jewish culture with the stereotypical grandmother/Bubby or Mom who kvells (there goes another non-translatable Yiddish word) about her progeny.

groovy-granny

So back to being a Nachassist, I believe that I spend most of my existence as a grandmother kvelling (loosely translated as inner boasting, bragging) about the little and not-so-little-anymore boys who were born from my children- otherwise known as grandsons.

Cute ones. Adorable ones. Smart. Talented. Athletic. Perceptive. Kind.

hands

Oh and handsome and charming too.

And did I mention that I am absolutely NOT prejudiced or biased at all? I mean anyone will attest to the above claims.

So how am I a nachassist? You see, I thrive on nachas. (See above descriptions. We’re showing, not telling here.)

Nachas is what keeps me going. And nachas is what also keeps me distracted from doing what I have to do as in when I tell my 5-year old (irresistible) grandson, “Will you just stop being so cute? I can’t stand it anymore and I can’t get anything done with you around. Go away, okay?”

And he smiles back at me, in that knowing way. He gets it. He knows that I don’t have patience for too much cuteness. Then I tell my daughter-in-law (his mother) that they should make it illegal to be so cute.

The last few weeks, I agonized  at how little I wrote, blogged, read or did anything of significance with my brain because all I could do is kvell.

And you know, kvelling and accomplishing just don’t go together.

Now, in case you think that Nachassists are similar to Narcissists in that they have a personality disorder, think again.

Nachassists are not bad or selfish or damaged. They are simply human and they are just doing what comes naturally when good things come our way in life.

You see, even if you don’t have grandchildren, you can display a healthy dose of nachassism with regard to anything good in your life.

For example, if you have a child who is accepted to an Ivy League university, you have joy and pride in what the child has accomplished. That’s “nachas.” (if you’re not Jewish you call it something else, but you get my drift).

And if you worked really hard to play a Beethoven Sonata on the piano and then you perform it perfectly (or almost perfectly) in front of a large audience, you have nachas from yourself.

Nachas is that good old-fashioned, cuddly feeling you get when  you or someone you love gets or earns something really good and worthy of pride.

Now, sometimes “nachassism” can veer into dangerous territory and perhaps earn a not so nice reputation like its cousin “narcissism.”

How? When a Nachassist gets an urge to post a picture of his or her progeny on Facebook, it can cause some issues. For example, if the nachassist forgets to ask permission from the parents of the cute, adorable and irresistible kids. That can pose a problem of privacy being invaded into the young family’s territory, a feeling of being intruded upon.

And that’s when nachassism gets a little sticky.

The simple way for a nachassist to prevent any problems is to ask permission. Then, the parents of said children can either say yes or no. (hopefully they say yes, right?)

If yes is the response, the nachassist is free to post that photo for all his/her facebook friends to ooh and ahh over said child.

Never mind that each of those facebook friends who are admiring, liking, reacting and otherwise stroking the Nachassist’s ego on Facebook is secretly thinking, “My grandchild is much cuter. Hmph.” It doesn’t matter if each one is eagerly waiting to post his or her own nachas about his or her own life, it doesn’t matter.

Because that just proves how powerful the Nachassist phenomenon is. Later on, the likers, reactors, and strokers can post their one Nachas on Facebook for all to see.

You see, it’s all just a Nachas game, played by nachassists who want to brag and boast, share about their good events in life and/or grandchildren.

And that’s not so terrible, is it?

So the next time something good comes your way, go ahead and share it. Post it. Be proud of it. We are all here to read and share in your happiness.

And just so you know, we begrudge you the good fortune. In Yiddish – that’s called “Farginning.”

Oh, yeah, it’s hard to translate exactly into English. But you get my drift, don’t you?

May all grandmothers, grandfathers, parents and children have nachas from each other and themselves! Amen!

 


Love Must Prevail

musickidsMy grandsons, BZ and YY came to visit me yesterday. The first thing that came out of the 3 year old, YY’s mouth was pure, unadulterated confidence and passion.

“Omi, guess what?” he said to me with a huge smile. “I put on my bathing suit all by myself, and then I took off all my clothes all by myself too!” He raised his hands in the air, in excitement, and I exclaimed. “Wowee! I’m so proud of you…”

My daughter-in-law and I exchanged smirks about the switching around of the order of undressing to dressing. Continue reading


Sharing Sad Feelings

I can’t even bring myself to write a chatty and cheery blogpost. The past few days have been very sad ones for all of the world and especially America. The Connecticut tragedy is something that is unfathomable, and beyond belief. To use an old and tired cliche, I cannot wrap my head around it. Continue reading


Holiday Happiness Habits

Holidays are an exciting time. Many look forward to getting together with family and friends and celebrating the winter holidays, whether they are Chanukah or Christmas. People want to be happy all the time, but during the holidays, they expect to be happy. During the holidays, many of us feel entitled to be happy. After all, “everyone” is happy, right? (remember we said that to our parents: “Everyone has that toy, everyone has those shoes….” Remember the answer our parents gave us?)

Lots of scholars have written about what constitutes happiness. In fact, Dennis Prager, renowned radio personality devotes an entire show to that elusive feeling called “happiness.” He calls it “Happiness Hour.”  Some people are forever chasing happiness, and others find it right within their self. They are satisfied with their lot. No expectations. Continue reading


The Grands

My son and daughter-in-law went somewhere the other day and left our grandson,  their two-year old son with us for a few hours. He screamed and cried so loudly when they left, “Mommy, Daddy,…” that I thought the neighbors down the block would hear. (some exaggeration here).

But seriously, he really cried like he meant it. He eventually calmed down and was a happy camper, but his method of communication that was so “real” and “honest” made me think about my own honesty in my communication.

Do we all express our feelings to our close ones like we really mean it? Or do we muffle our sound because we want to please the next person? Are we afraid to look bad so we don’t express what we really mean, or at least tell the other one  “Let’s agree to disagree,” rather than misrepresenting ourselves and our reality? Continue reading


Stay Out of It…or not?

The question often comes up for many of us whether or not to get involved. Recently, I attended an evening class with some members of my synagogue, and we got into a somewhat lively (read: heated!) discussion. A particular scenario was described in which one woman’s daughter noted that her classmates were breaking a particular rule. The question for this woman was whether or not to counsel her daughter to report on the classmates.

Well, rather than discuss that back and forth of the various women in the group regarding this discussion (did I mention it got heated?), I will relate something that happened with my 4-year old grandson. (you thought I could go for one entire post without boasting – I mean describing him? Well, think again!).

And from that story of my grandson, we can (hopefully) glean some insight into how we, as adults can act.

Anyway, my daughter-in-law described to me the following conversation between herself, the Mommy and my (darling) grandson:

Child: Two boys in school today were fighting so badly, and were not letting Mashiach (the Messiah) come! I was so worried, and I tried telling them to stop fighting.

Mom: So did they stop?

Child: No, (looking sad) – they didn’t. They kept fighting and fighting.

Mom: So what happened?

Child: I tried more, and they still didn’t listen. So I told the teacher and she got them to be friends again.

My daughter-in-law then proceeded to explain to her son how G-d is proud of him for caring so much. But G-d really wants him to take care of himself – first and foremost.  Maybe those boys didn’t listen to him. It’s okay. He can’t change that.  As long as he is always nice to his friends (which he is…), (and doesn’t get hurt by the bullies? — is what this grandmother was thinking silently..??)

I’m not sure what else she told him, but it sounds like that was a powerful message for one 4-year old guy!

And I choose to take that message with me for my own everyday life!


Mistake-Making Muppets

As a child, I watched a lot of Sesame Street. I watched it because I thought it was very cool. The songs were adorable and the Muppet characters were unique. In short, it was a great show, and really held my interest. When I got older, I learned to play some of the songs on the piano, because they were so appealing to me.

One song that was popular on that program was sung by Big Bird or Ernie or Kermit the Frog; the song was called “Everyone Makes Mistakes so why can’t you? Your sister and your brother and….” Basically, it was a testimony to not trying to be so perfect all the time. With the creative lyrics of Jim Henson, the Muppet characters rollicked and rolled to the music while teaching that lesson to pre-schoolers around the world.

I once heard an expert in child psychology say how it is a healthier sign in children when they misbehave at home – around family, showing they are comfortable to  let their frustrations out at home. That is healthier than those kids who are perfect little angels at home, and then at school they misbehave.

My grandson showed us that last week when he was at our house one night and said something to me that was what we call in our house, “not so nice.”  After he said the “not so nice” phrase, I knew that if his mother were there, she would put him in time out. I also knew that everyone makes mistakes. My choice was either to let it go, because grandmothers are not supposed to discipline, or to give him a consequence.

I chose the latter – not because I wanted to necessarily discipline my grandson when he was at my house. I chose the consequence because I was concerned that I would be setting a precedent for future misbehavior if I didn’t nip it in the bud. So later when he asked me for ice cream, I told him that boys who talk like that don’t get to have ice cream. He tried to test me and beg me for the treat, but this grandmother held to her convictions and did not give in.

Since everyone makes mistakes,  I didn’t bring it up again. Nor did I mention the incident to his mommy, and the next time he was over at our house, he was back to his wonderful behavior.

Who would have believed that withholding some ice cream would do the trick of preventing repeat incidents of “not nice behavior” in my little darling Muppet?

And yes, as soon as he showed his good behavior, Mom and I reinforced the big guy with…praise.

We will save the ice cream for another time.


Post Gathering Post

Here is my Post-Barbecue – my recap of the barbecue:

Firstly, I read my previous post and thought to myself how it does sound kind of “oy-ish” — (read: negative!) but hey, that’s my blog – the Bubby Joys and Oys…and what fun would it be if I – the Grandmother/Bubby only reported on the Joys all the time?!!  I was stressed today at the end of the day, and as much as I was looking forward to being with family and entertaining them, I was tired and a bit tense.

Enough excuses.

To report on the barbecue: The good news is: a) I didn’t overeat tonight. I had vegetables and chicken! Yay me!! And b) A great time was had by all. Everyone filled their stomachs, and enjoyed each others’ company.The baby charmed everyone with his adorable smiles and flirting with the adults. His five year old brother charmed everyone with his sweet comments and cheerful disposition. I had so much nachas having the kids around me, baruch Hashem. And we even snapped a bunch of family pictures.

Almost all the food is gone so that’s a good sign. And as it is now October 4th, I look forward to our future barbecues – in the autumn (which it is now!), winter, and the spring …(not summer anymore – although the weather has been in triple digits lately here in Southern California.)

For now: good night, and have a wonderful weekend and Shabbos!

 


Zero Plus One is One!

My grandson loves math. He especially loves when we, the grownups play math games with him and ask him “how much is x plus y?” And then he gets to say the answer, so proudly. No, it’s not algebra yet — -I just used x and y as examples of numbers.

But seriously, I started kvelling the other day when he actually seemed to grasp the concept of zero times zero (zero! – he shouted), or Zero plus 1 million (1 million! he shouted!)

Kids love Zero. Zero is a cute number. It means nothing. It makes them laugh. Hey, a number that is nothing? That’s funny to them. Nothing plus nothing? nothing! Nothing plus one? one!

And then I started to think about it (here we go again, the thinking Bubby!…..). If we can start with nothing, and build up one by one by one…then who knows how far we can go? Step by step. That’s all it takes.

I’m sure there are lots of metaphors to this “zero plus one = one” concept. But right now, that is the one I will sit with.

Zero plus one = One. Then – One plus one more…..hmmmm..and more…

With Hashem’s help, may we go from strength to strength – in good health and happiness — in the coming year…Amein!


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