I woke Chana up a bit late this morning, after making a midmorning iced coffee. I made the boys early lunch before going up to her. They wanted seconds, but I said that it was time for me to work with Chana, and that they can either make it themselves or wait. It took her another bunch of minutes to rouse herself enough to get out of bed to do negel vasser and say birchas haTorah so we could learn.
I decided to work on Avinu Malkeinu this morning. I handed her the machzor and her ipad and told her to read it in English and make a list of questions. I gave her 10 minutes and headed down to make or supervise "seconds" for lunch. It turns out the boys were having a giant picnic with neighbors on our porch, and were providing the food. So Elazar had a long row of slices out, and each one had a different order (cheese, sauce, cheese and sauce, etc.). I helped him assemble and left him to the cooking.
I went back upstairs. Chana had written down 3 questions, and they were all vocabulary questions on the translation. Thwart and abundant. I explained the phrases to her, and she was already looking up the translations and thinking about how to use them in sentences. We discussed the themes of Avinu Malkeinu, and the different categories of requests (generally divided into "forgive us" and "protect us"). When we got up to the begging of tearing up the evil decree, we started a conversation about whether a person could die without a decree. Is a decree an explicit punishment? Can someone die without it being decreed? If we say an evil decree is going to be deserved, then how about people who die not as a punishment? I'm not sure how that conversation morphed into the doing things for Your sake. I thought Chana would have questions on that, but apparently we have discussed many times the concept of Hashem's reputation. Then she asked if the Holocaust was an evil decree and a deserved punishment. So to explain that difficult question I started explaining about the brachos and klalos and the bris with that. Then Chana said that it seemed superstitious that when the Jews don't behave well, that other nations attack us.
I explained an answer I heard from a Rebbe of mine, many years ago, that when the Jews call themselves the Chosen people, this has a psychological effect on the world. When we follow the Torah and behave kindly and generously and humbly and wisely, then nobody is aggressive towards us. But claim to be Chosen and behave avariciously, aggressively, basely, immorally, and evilly... Well, I gave the example of if Chana was saying she was chosen. I wouldn't love it, but as long as she was truly acting in a lofty manner I would concede that maybe there was something to it. But if she began to be obnoxious, I'd probably punch her out.
I explained that it is pretty cool in the history of the Jews that historically, any movement that claimed the supremacy of Man (eg Hitler with the elite Aryan race) felt that they had to destroy the Jews, who stood for the "Am Hashem." (I personally think this is a fantastic connection to the idea of Rosh Hashana being the time that the Jews concentrate on the difference between Melech Elyon and melech evyon, but I don't think Chana shares my enthusiasm.)
She didn't believe that the Jews are actually widely considered the chosen people. I challenged her to google it ("who are the chosen people") and every single hit talked about the Jews. I was just referring her to theonion article about the Jews as the Chosen people when Elazar came inside absolutely hysterically crying. This is unusual for him. His disposition is pretty sunny.
I left Chana with the article and Elazar (8) insisted that Aharon (4) smacked his sandwich out of his hand for no reason. I said, come on, he must have had a reason. Was he angry at you? Nope. No reason. I said I would get Aharon in to discuss it.
I'm not sure what happened next. Perhaps Elazar beat me outside to extract vengeance. By the time I got there, Aharon was screaming that Elazar kicked him in the forehead. Elazar was screaming that Aharon ruined his sandwich. There was a glob of melted cheese on the porch.
I told them to come sit down and discuss it. Aharon ran away. I scooped him up and sat him down. I asked who wanted to speak first. Aharon refused. So Elazar said he was upset that Aharon ruined his sandwich and that's why he kicked him. I asked Aharon why he did it. Was he angry at Elazar?
No, he wasn't.
Hmm. Was it an accident? I asked. Elazar said no, and Aharon seized on that excuse and said yes. But I could see that it had been deliberate. So, why?
There was no good answer. I deduced that Aharon has general aggression towards his older brothers and he saw an opportunity to bother him and did so.
So on to the next step. Repair. I asked Aharon if he would make Elazar a new sandwich. He was happy to agree.
In the meantime, Jack's sandwich was cooking. Aharon and I assembled Elazar's new sandwich amid much mess (it would have been easier to do it myself, but that's not chinuch, is it) and Aharon talking in a baby tone talk because of his strong feelings about the whole situation which he is not so good at expressing, except through baby voice and nonsense words. (Whenever I try to speak to him seriously, he erupts into it and starts smacking. I live in hope that with maturity, he will get better at verbally expressing himself, and I live in fear that I don't have enough time, energy, or concentration to help him.)
I went to put the sandwich in the toaster and I realized that the toaster wasn't working. (Bear in mind, I'm supposedly in the middle of working with Chana and we were in the middle of a fantastic discussion, which unfortunately will not pick up because the mood was broken.) I thought maybe it was the outlet. I moved the toaster across the room and yay, it worked!
Must be the fuse. But I know how to go down and fix that, because I am superwoman! Except, guess what. I went down and couldn't tell which one had blown. So I called Ari. He walked me through it. (Silly me, it was in the one that said "2nd floor" even though it was on the first floor.) I come back upstairs, and the toaster is on fire.
And it's not a tiny fire that is going out itself. (This at least the fourth time this toaster has been on fire.) The boys were not careful about the cheese placement, which dripped, which burnt. (I'll have to discuss that with them, but since the previous fire was because of my doing the exact same thing, I understand how that goes.) So I'm opening the door, blowing on it, nervous that maybe the fire extinguisher is called for and opening the door is stupid and maybe it will burn itself out, except there is a sandwich in there to catch fire. But I blow it out like birthday candles. And it works, and I am relieved.
So. Recap. Great discussion. Big fight. Broken fuse. Fire.
I go back up to Chana, and she is pretty much done. I would like to discuss the difference between "Avinu" and "Malkeinu" (our father and our king) and what this has to do with the themes of Rosh Hashana. But Chana was done. D-O-N-E done.
So we did Hamlet. And now I have 6 hours to cook for Shabbos and get to the library.