This past Sunday we dropped Chana, Dovid and Tzipora back off in Boston, after 9 days of fun and adventure. As we sort through photos and clean-up toys, I can't help but reflect on a few of wonderful moments we had with the kids.
Dovid the curious.. But why? This was Dovid's signature phrase from the week. At one point we were all sitting around reading through Shel Silverstein's poetry and after *every* poem Dovid would chime in: But why? Oh, to be so curious!
Chana the empathetic. As we were walking down the jetway to board our plane back to Boston Chana made a remarkable statement: Uncle Ben, thanks for the toy. She was referring to the little tchotchke I had given the kids to help keep them occupied in the boarding area. I have to admit, I was taken aback: without even the slightest hint, she was saying thank you. Looking back over the week, Chana displayed this sort of maturity a number of times and we're so proud of her.
Tzipora the actress. No doubt, my niece will have a career in movies should she choose to pursue one. She's able to deliver lines with the kind of drama and flare that seems downright professional. Like the time I asked her how she'd liked camp and she solemnly held her fingers up in an X (don't worry, follow on days were far improved), expressing in one gesture what a heap of words could never accomplish.
My favorite moment, though, came when I called for her to set the table. She was in the other room playing with a now defunct cell phone, pretending to speak French(!) to an acquaintance. When she finally finished the call (and there was certainly no rushing her), she scolded me for my rude behavior: Uncle Ben, I was on the phone with my friend from Paris who had her birthday today! Her tone and words made it clear: was I raised in a barn? Had I no manners or respect for others? How could I do anything but smile.
Chana the artist. Give this girl markers and let her go to work! She colored, she freehand-drew and she experimented with my Ed Emberley books. Next time, I'm going to have to find more time to sit with her and draw. I'm just so proud of her for jumping in and making art.
Dovid the shoe aficionado. Who would have known that a trip to the shoe store would have been so enlightening? I put a new pair of Sketchers on the boy and I asked him to take a test walk. Feh, he would have none of that. Instead, he thoroughly tested the shoes by bounding through the store. It was a joy to watch.
And his pride for his new shoes didn't stop there. On the airplane he gave the flight attendant, who just wanted to know his drink order, quite the explanation about his shoes. He explained that his sneakers had the z-strap and memory foam features, and that while his new Shabbos shoes lacked these features, they were still quite comfortable and gave him high jumping abilities. The girls, for their part, also very much liked their new shoes. At some point, it was explained to them that the big puffy soles were like walking on little trampolines. They loved this. I'm sure I never appreciated my shoes as much as they do, and for that I'm sorry.
Tzipora the naturalist. I've already recounted a number of anecdotes about Tzipora's encounter's with nature, but it bears repeating. While camping we found various discarded insect exoskeletons, and it was always Tzipora who was most comfortable handling them. Alas, she didn't always use her powers for good. At one point she picked up the cicada skeleton and placed it on top of the water jug. This of course freaked her brother out, who wanted nothing to do with remains of this creature. Stop torturing your brother, I said, and had her move it to a more out of the way location.
The Comedians. All three kids loved telling jokes. In fact, loved is nowhere near a strong enough word. For them, telling a joke was like performing a verbal magic trick. Did it matter that their entire repertoire consisted of about 4 knock-knock jokes? Not at all. They'd tell and retell the jokes, with wild abandoned. At one point, they asked Shira to teach them some "adult jokes." Using discretion, Shira taught them this gem: Where do pencils go on vacation? Pennsylvania. Their minds were blown, and this became their new favorite joke.
Picture it: we're flying back to Boston and we're sitting in the following arrangement: window, Chana, Me, Dovid, aisle, Shira, Tzipora, stranger, window. At one point, Dovid decides it's time to entertain the stranger on the end of the row next to Tzipora. He yells across the aisle, Shira and his sister: Want to hear a joke? Where do pencils go on vacation?. Said stranger was a good sport and kindly played along. They just loved it. Next year, comedy camp for the whole lot of them.
My gosh the kids are growing up. What a privilege it is to get to witness this!