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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My Grandson’s Kindergarten Graduation Takeaway

When Robert Fulghum wrote that all he ever needed to know he learned in kindergarten, he wasn’t kidding.  I had a similar experience in kindergarten just by watching my grandson and his peers sings songs at their graduation.

silhouette-kids-holding-hands

The other day I attended the 5-year old graduation and listened to them say their valedictorian speeches – sing the songs and perform for the parents and grandparents with such clarity of speech, twinkles in their eyes and motions of their hands.  I realized for myself that these kids know everything they have to know already. Today.

They learned it already and they don’t have to learn it anymore. From here on in, it’s just review and repetition.

Robert Fulghum’s list of material learned in kindergarten included sharing, being fair, cleaning up your own mess, being nice and even flushing the toilet. Lots of things. You can check them out here. They all have to do with behaviors, rather than attitudes or values. Behaviors are important because the more we do them, the more practice we get at being good at them. And the more someone who we respect praises us for doing the behavior (kids love mitzvah notes!), the more we want to do it more.

I wonder: After kindergarten, is there is anything more to learn about how to act properly, with manners and politeness? Or is it just trial, error, repetition, review, feedback, practice and refinement of the basic lessons?

Beyond behaviors, there are attitudes and values. Attitudes and values are important because they are the pillars that hold up what we believe to be important in life, and they motivate us to do the things we do.

My grandson and his buddies sang so many songs (they were each very short!) that my heart was singing and dancing. I couldn’t stop kvelling (pretty typical for me but ok).

Songs about values such as honesty, visiting the sick, being nice to guests, knowing that even bad things are all for the best, loving others, and appreciating what others do for us.

These children have learned things in kindergarten and learned it well.  I saw it in their eyes. I felt it in their smiles. And I watched it in their hands that moved in unison.

On that day, in that classroom, at that graduation, those 22 kids dressed as little sailors sang songs about values and beliefs that they will hopefully be mindful of every day of their lives.

Here they are sitting together and watching a slide show of the various activities they did this year representing the values they learned.

sailors

And now? Where do they go from here? We hope and pray they take these values and self esteem they have had this year and go forward from strength to strength.

And to that blessing this grandmother says “Amen!”

 

 

 


What I Needed to Learn, I Learned in Kindergarten

silhouette-kids-holding-hands

I was invited to a  Shabbos party at my pre-school grandson’s school, where he was chosen to be  the Shabbos Abba.  On Friday morning, I dropped everything and drove over to his classroom, met my DIL there and we observed my grandson  having this special party with his friends — with grape-juice, challah and other goodies.

It was at this party that I realized something about myself that I hadn’t known before. Something that made me feel more grown up than I’ve felt in years. More mature, evolved and settled.

I may have thought about it briefly over the past years, but hadn’t articulated it clearly in my mind.  Maybe I was in denial. Maybe I was too embarrassed to admit it. Maybe I never even thought too much about it.

What was this feeling?

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT….DONE!

Doing a Mitzvah!

Zooming in on my Mitzvah Guy!

Whew. There. I admitted it:  Having the sensation that it is okay to have done the Mommy thing years ago, and moved on.

As I viewed  the classroom with its bulletin boards, various stations, book shelves, colorful cubblies, circle time rugs, toys and art and musical instruments, I felt kind of detached.  Yes, it was all very sweet and nice but I zoomed right in to view my own grandson (who of course was the most adorable), snapped a few pictures, felt the pride and enjoyed. He, and my role as Grandma were key here. Nothing else.

There was none of the nostalgia for the good-ol’-days as a Mommy.

I felt completely comfortable in my role as middle-aged grandmother. Call me old. Call me complacent. Call me whatever you want to call me. But I really was not in the least bit sad about being older than every other person in the room – even the teachers.

BEING OLD IS GREAT

bouncing

It wasn’t easy to come to that conclusion. I’ve been so busy the past few years writing and reading about the empty nest syndrome with its intermittent loneliness, alleged boredom, painful nostalgia, ubiquitous regret and all the other supposed symptoms ot the midlife  crisis or period. It’s been a given that we  midlifers are forever  pining for the good-ol’ days of carpools, soccer practice, PTA meetings, and child bearing years.

To an extent we are. We miss the past, and want the feeling of watching our little ones grow and develop. The feeling of the unknown, how it’s all going to turn out is kind of exciting and non-threatening.  And when that is all over, it feels as if we have nowhere to go now. Nothing  to look forward to. Nothing to plant and grow anymore. We feel as if our work is done.

But me,  I’ve reached a point where I no longer miss those days. I’m seriously grateful for being at the stage that I am.

I don’t want to go back to those early parenting days anymore. No way.

Do I have the feeling of life having passed me by and that the good times are over? Nah.

I remember the good times and fun times of the cute kids and watching them grow, develop and learn alongside their peers and cousins, but I do not miss them. That’s because I also remember the difficult times.

The calls from the teachers that my kid has to sit detention. The endless carpools, the hours with them doing homework, the arguments and debates with those sons who were not as docile (euphemism here. Use your imagination, okay?) as the others and whatever angst raising children entails.

All that is over. No more having to get babysitters. No more dealing with discipline and rude behavior (yes, kids were sometimes disrespectul).

Bottom line, knowing that our children have turned out really well is a comfort to me. We’ve done our work as parents, and now we get to be a couple. My husband and I have done a great job, and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy our own stage.

The kindergarten visit taught me the lesson of being happy with the stage that I’m in.

I had my lesson about the true reality of  Empty Nest Syndrome, and it was time to go home to my own peace and quiet. How wonderful is that?

How do *you* feel about being in the Empty Nest Club? Do you pine for the good ol’ days? Do colorful kindergartens make you wax nostalgic?

(Photo credits: Property of M. Hendeles and  Image credits Publicdomainpics.net)

 


Graduations, Grandparents, and Gratitude

Today I attended an important graduation.

It wasn’t my own graduation. I haven’t had any of those lately, even though several years ago, I graduated from being a mom of growing children.

Today, I attended my grandson’s kindergarten ceremony.

benchumash

 And it was most exciting because my husband and I enjoy watching our grandsons’ milestones.

You see, my youngest son, who is 20 and his brother above him are studying out of town. With the rest of our sons married, my husband and I have got the empty nest, and we are grateful. Continue reading


You Get What You Get…

Yes, you get what you get…and you don’t get upset! That’s the chant I’ve used with my music therapy groups of children when I passed out instruments. When some of the kids were a bit disgruntled with the particular maraca or bells they were handed, I used that chant as a reminder.  In fact, my own grandsons use this chant on each other.

“Hey, I got it first! You get what you get! Remember?” — he says to his cousin who has just laid claim to a truck or car that he felt was HIS.

“Everything we need to know in life has been learned in kindergarten” is a saying that keeps popping up in my mind’s eye when I realize how valuable these childlike lessons are.

It is all about my choices and perceptions of my lot in life.

I realize these days how God gives each one of us exactly what we need in life. I could pine and wish for that trip to Israel or Europe, but hey – it’s not happening yet. I could choose to be envious of those who take monthly getaways with their spouses. But I don’t. Instead I’m content with the lifestyle that I have.

I could decide to detest that person who somehow racks up all that mileage and manages to take a cruise to Alaska during the summer. But I don’t. I’m happy for them, and even happier for me for being healthy thank G-d, and able to stay comfortably in one place without traveling.

I could also be extremely jealous of said acquaintance whose husband has a job that enables them to get vacation more often than my own husband’s 3 weeks per year – which are mostly taken up by Jewish Holidays. But instead I tell myself that someday – when G-d means for this to happen – we will afford such a trip.

Similarly, I could be resentful of those who seem to have such an easy time staying slim, (okay, okay I’m a bit angry at those people). I could be mad at those who seem to be so calm, cool and collected and rarely (never?) raise their voices. I could find fault with these people because that would be an easy way for me to put them down (in order to raise myself). Instead, I choose to be happy with my lot.

You get the idea. It’s all in our perceptions. It’s all about how we see things. The cup half empty? Or the cup half full?

It is our choice to either be content with our lot, or not. We might as well appreciate our lot in life for what they are: gifts given to us by God, to be used. Not to be compared with others.

We get what we get. Great chant to sing – from kindergarten up to any age!


The Crooked Cap

My grandson graduated from nursery school yesterday.

When I got to the backyard where the “event” (sounds a bit formal for 4 year olds – doesn’t it?) was being held, I took a seat in the front row – next to his mom.  As soon as the kids came marching into place on the stage (with their teacher leading them in song),  I searched for my grandson among the group, and zeroed right in to watch him in his debut.

I turned to my daughter-in-law and whispered, “Why is his hat crooked?”

She said, “Ma, he’s FOUR.”

True. He’s four. I’m fifty two. And I’m worrying about his slanted sailor cap on his head. Continue reading


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