imagesThe note sat on the ledge of my bathtub. It was written on a folded scrap of purple lined paper. The words were few. “Daddy would’ve been proud of you this weekend.” It sat next to one of our popped Billecart-Salmon champagne corks, a memory of a time long past. When I was 13, we hid Korbel champagne corks in all of the nooks and crannies of our grandparent’s medicine cabinets, kitchen cupboards and shoe boxes. We were a family that celebrated everything with champagne; birthdays, anniversaries, Jewish holidays. We used to giggle with glee as we stuffed corks into envelopes in my grandfather’s office or snuck them into my Aunt’s pocketbook. It was a game my father invented that just sort of stuck. After we started hiding the corks, we just couldn’t stop — ever.

I think I first introduced the game to my kids several years ago. We’ve been hiding corks ever since. My son’s Bar Mitzvah weekend had been literally 72 hours of unbridled celebration so champagne corks were plentiful. I expected my boys to stash some away in some of their favorite hiding places for me to discover one by one over the next few weeks. But somehow I didn’t expect the one on the bathtub ledge, left by the one person whose shared memories will always be the closest to my own.

My sister and I have always had a rocky relationship. I sometimes joke that she never quite forgave me for being born. We are as different as two people can be. But it was her very presence this weekend that filled my family, my home and my heart with joy, tradition and soulful memories. Seeing her smile and appreciate the world I had created away from the one in which we’d grown up, seemed to infuse my weekend with a sense of momentous value and significance.

I so wanted her to like my home, my friends, my synagogue. To approve of what I’d become and the family of which I stood at the helm. At nearly 50 years old, I still longed for the recognition, acceptance and approval of my big sister. It seems silly, but finding that note filled a space in my heart that had been there for as long as I could remember. “Daddy would’ve been proud of you this weekend.”

The truth is, my father would’ve loved this weekend. It would have filled him with a deep sense of joy and fulfillment. It feels remarkably unfair that he isn’t here to harvest the fruits that grew from his hard work, love and attention. He had lived to create this family, these traditions, and all that we had become. And yet, he had died before ever seeing his masterpiece in full view. Sometimes the injustice of life seems overwhelming to me.

“Daddy would’ve been proud of you this weekend.” And of you, my dear sister. Because somehow we managed to shelve the past this weekend, to burry away our bittersweet rivalries, to suspend our long-standing disappointments and disagreements. For all of that, I am grateful.

May we continue to live our lives in honor of the man whose love and hard work taught us the value of family, tradition, compassion and celebration. Times change. People pass away. But the memory of all that was good will never fade. I pray that we are creating those memories for our children and that they will always drink up the joys that life offers and forever remember to hide the corks when they do.

What does forgiveness look like?

Tonight marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days. Much of the emphasis of the next ten days is on forgiveness. We ask forgiveness from those we have hurt. We ask forgiveness for ourselves for being less than we know we can be. We ask forgiveness of God for our failure to lead good and righteous lives.

I was asked to create a piece of art that illustrated what forgiveness might look like. This is what I came up with.


What does forgiveness look like?

A broken vase, a treasured gift
from a father who is gone.

My grandfather’s Havdala spice jar,
dropped by a five year old’s inattentive grasp.

The Kiddush cup we got when our first son was born,
mangled in the garbage disposal
as I hurriedly tried to rush through kitchen clean-up.

Broken bits of life that used to shatter my heart.
I chastised myself for their loss.

At first I didn’t know why I saved them in that crate in the garage.
They were painful reminders of moments gone wrong and the
things and people I could never replace.

And then one day I found them and realized
that although they were not whole, as they had once been,
they could live anew, as they now were,
precious pieces of a creative expression.

Entangled within cabinets, picture frames, shelves,
these beloved mementos remind me to forgive, to let go,
to welcome the changes that come sometimes with
carelessness, hurry, and the natural course of our existence.

Forgiveness allows what is broken to become whole.
Art is the process by which those shattered shards come together
to express the imperfect beauty of life.

L’Shana Tova to all.

Shit storm

This is NOT how things work in my world!

 NOT how things work in my world!

It is 3:30 in the afternoon. I am late to pick up Eli from the bus stop and I am literally standing ankle deep in sewage in my bathroom. The toilet continues to vomit out shit like it’s a prop in some kind of horror film and my husband is too busy to come to the phone and tell me how the hell to turn off the water flow so I can stop the excrement from flooding the rest of my house.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you think, “Wow, this is just not how I expected my life to look?” I finally figure out that by pulling the small white handle thingy behind the toilet you can shut off the water flow. But this does nothing to lessen the reality that I am out of towels, covered in shit and watching the steady stream of sewage seep ever closer to my beautiful wood-planked bedroom floors. HELP!!!

I am thoroughly disgusted. Shit is just something that’s hard to move beyond. We talk about life being “shit,” of “shit” storms, crocks of “shit,” holy “shit,” “shit” for brains. It’s like we’re a nation obsessed with “shit.” People wear “shit-eating” grins, they get scared “shitless,” they pontificate about bears “shitting” in the woods. Our culture is full of “shit!” Maybe there’s a metaphor here for me to learn from, a symbolic rationale for why I am mired down in “shit” in the middle of the desert when it’s 113 degrees and there’s no sign of it ever cooling off again, EVER!

We watched this movie the other night on Netflix about a guy who was being tracked by a vicious killer and his dog. The guy was hiding in an out house and the only way to escape capture and death was to climb into the toilet and plunge himself into the sea of waste beneath the house. He immersed himself completely and was able to breathe using an empty toilet paper roll. “Do you think you could ever do that?” I’d asked my husband. “Of course,” He said, “If my life depended on it.”

“I’m not sure I could,” I had proffered. “Even to save my life.” I guess this is my punishment for not recognizing the value of life as compared to a minor bout of revulsion.

Oh well, they say shit happens for a reason. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

It’s all about perspective


So this morning I walk into the kitchen at 5:20a.m. Don’t even ask me how long the rest of my nocturnal crew has been awake. I see my husband, Mark, standing in front of the island sink. He is absent-mindedly spraying the sink basin with Pam cooking spray. He does this for approximately 10 seconds as I silently watch with perplexity. Next he returns the Pam to the pantry and pulls out his carton of Egg Beaters. After a few violent shakes, he opens the carton and proceeds to pour several servings of Egg Beaters down the drain to follow the Pam cooking spray. At this point, I am finding it hard to keep quiet.

So I say, in a less than kind tone, “What the hell are you doing? Why would you waste food like that?” I am irritated, and yes a bit concerned, that during the night he has lost or hopefully only misplaced some of his mental faculties. He looks up and simply says, “I’m making my breakfast.”

Now Mark enjoys a good joke and has never missed an opportunity to tease, toy with, or good-naturedly yank my rather easily accessible chain. But at this point, I am not amused. We are working hard to make ends meet. We are living sparsely, avoiding waste and trying to maintain a cash only spending regiment. Why would someone in that position carelessly spill an entire meal down the drain?

“What is seriously wrong with you?” I ask more with bewilderment than ire. “Nothing,” he retorts, still standing over his eggless creation in the sink. At this point, I’m taking into consideration the possibility that he has had some type of brain aneurism and can no longer be held responsible for his behavior. I quickly move towards him to catch him in case he topples over from the force of the bursting vessel within his brain. But as I get to him, I see that sitting on the bottom of the sink is his microwave egg-cooker, filled with plenty of Pam and two servings of Egg Beaters. He, of course, is snickering madly. He picks up his cooker, places it in the microwave and turns it on for 1:30 seconds.

“Why did you do that?” I continued my interrogation despite his giggles and snorts. “It’s more efficient,” he explained. “I don’t get Pam all over the counter and if I spill any of the Egg Beaters, I just turn on the faucet and clean the sink.”

I had to admit that did actually make a lot of sense. But from my perspective across the room, watching his actions was like watching an inane rerun of The Three Stooges. But then it hit me; that is truly what life is about. (Not watching inane reruns of The Three Stooges.) Life is about how we each view the world from our unique vantage points. Thus our challenges in life, our relationship difficulties, our negative attitudes are only as accurate as we allow them to be. If we change our perspective, by say walking across a room, or bending down, or climbing a few rungs of a metaphorical ladder, we may actually see the entire world differently. That’s an enormous realization.

When we argue with people or when someone close to us hurts us, it’s so easy to accuse, condemn and vilify whomever has done us wrong. But maybe we’re not really seeing the full picture. Maybe what appears to be careless or random idiocy is really thoughtful and considerate conduct. Maybe if we shift our mental or emotional viewpoint we will see that the situation is vastly different from our original interpretation. And maybe, just maybe, we too will find ourselves laughing at misconceptions that never actually even existed.

His first dance


“Whose problem is it?” My husband, the pediatrician, patronizingly posits.

“Look, I know it’s his problem,” I say, already on edge from his tone of voice, “I read all the ‘Love and Logic’ books too. But sometimes a parent needs to step in and avert an impending disaster.”

“You need to let him fail, Debra,” He councils.

“But this is such a bad idea!” I assert. “He’ll be totally humiliated and then…well, he’ll be scarred for like ever!”

“If you take this on as your issue,” he warns, “You are robbing him of an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson.”

At that point I wanted to slug him. Instead I furiously stormed out of the kitchen and rushed into his office where I began to systematically rip the pages out of each and every “Love and Logic” book I could find. All the while yelling at him, “I hate this ‘Love and Logic’ crap! This whole notion of natural consequences sucks. If it’s all about letting your kids fail, then what do they need parents for in the first place? Let’s just step back a bit further and really let him make his own choices…”

After I vented, I took a deep breath and looked seriously at my spouse. “How can you set our son up for this kind of devastation? Don’t you care about his feelings at all?”

“Debra,” he voiced in a genuinely warm tone, “I don’t want him to suffer any more than you do. But you told him it might be better to ask the girl to the dance in private instead of doing it in front of the entire sixth grade class. Didn’t you?”

I nodded sheepishly.

He continued, “And he decided he wanted it to be big and bold and dramatic. We have to let him do it his way.”

That’s when I realized I hate being a parent. I never should’ve gone down this path. It’s painful and frustrating and there’s virtually no positive reinforcement. My kind, sensitive, thoughtful 12-year-old boy is about to ask a girl to his first dance ever in front of his entire class and I can’t convince him to change course. And spousal support? Ha! My husband behaves as if he’s Switzerland during World War II.

The following day was grueling. I didn’t mention the dance invitation that morning en route to school. It was none of my business. Not my problem. If my adoring little boy got his heart stomped on by some brazen hussy, it was simply going to be a natural consequence that would teach him to be more cautious in exposing his sentiments in the future. Surely that lesson will serve him well in the long run.

I picked him up promptly at 3:15. “How was school?” I nonchalantly queried.
“Oh, it was okay,” he contended with the neutrality of a poker professional, cards close to his vest.

“Anything out of the ordinary occur?” I tried not to sound as pathetically desperate to know the story as I obviously was.

“No. Not really,” he replied matter-of-factly. “Just your average day.”

I bit my tongue, literally, to keep myself from uttering another word. Suddenly he chirped with excitement, “Oh, mom, I almost forgot. I asked Jessica (not her real name) to the dance this afternoon.”

“Oh you did?” I casually inquired. “So…how’d it go?”

“It was amazing! I played this One Direction song at the end of Spanish called ‘That’s what makes you beautiful,’ and I told her I wasn’t Nile, but I’d still like to take her to the dance if she’d go with me. The whole class was cheering and saying, ‘Say yes. Say yes.’ It was such a cool feeling to have everyone wanting me to succeed. And she did say yes, which made it even more cool.”

OK, I did not see that coming. My whole body heaved a heavy sigh of relief. Thank heavens that catastrophe was averted. We pulled into the driveway and I saw a series of texts had come in from my husband. “So?” “What happened?” “Did she say yes?” “Is he okay?” Well, how do you like that? Mr. “I’m so uninvolved emotionally and capable of keeping my feelings out of the situation” is actually waiting on pins and needles to know the results from today’s event.

I started to text back the good news when it struck me that it wouldn’t kill my husband to wait a few more hours to learn the verdict from today’s challenge. After all, I wouldn’t want him to take things on too personally and rob my son of his learning experience.
I texted back, “He prefers to talk with you in person.”

Yes, I know it was a bit childish. O.K., maybe even passive aggressive to purposely lead my husband astray like that. But it wasn’t a lie. Not really. Just a…a…an extension of the truth. And one that cheered me immensely over the course of the afternoon. Honestly, can you blame me? It’s not easy being married to a professional parent who always seems to have all the right answers.

Where have all the Cowboys gone?

For once I have the perfect gift for our upcoming Anniversary!

Our dog, Maggie, is a lot like Lassie. So the other night while my youngest son, Eli, was sleeping, it wasn’t at all surprising to see her perched in the threshold of the office barking a series of short staccato yips at my husband, Mark, while he typed away at his computer. “What is it girl?” he asked a la Timmy Martin, “Is someone in trouble?”

Maggie voiced a few more Morse Code like woofs and gestured with her head for my husband to follow. He quickly complied and Maggie led him down the hall towards the living room and courtyard. She stopped abruptly at the archway to the living room and yipped another string of urgent yelps. Our other dog, S’more, had joined her in the portal. They wouldn’t extend a paw beyond the threshold.

Mark opened the French doors and walked into the courtyard expecting to find some wayward quail or other lost desert creature. He found nothing and re-entered the house.

“There’s nothing out there, sweetie,” he calmly replied. But the yelping continued as both dogs stood frozen like guards at Buckingham Palace. Mark knelt down and tried to ease their heightening panic. That’s when he heard the unmistakable shake of a rattle behind him. He slowly stood and turned towards the sound. There, in the middle of our living room, stood a 3 foot uninvited Rattle snake.

Secure that our youngest was sleeping soundly down the hallway and the dogs wouldn’t approach the venomous intruder, he methodically backed away and moved stealthily into the garage to retrieve the first long metal object he could find. It was a rake that proved to be the ultimate asp destructor. Once it was officially deceased, he carefully speared it on the sharp end of the rake spokes and shot-putted it into the desert wash behind our property.

When I came home with my older son, Levi, I noted particular nervousness in both of our normally easy-going pups. S’more was barking at every sound and motion, while Maggie just sat curled up in a corner of our bedroom. “Is everything okay with the dogs?” I asked. My husband nodded and tried to smile, “Yep. Everything is A-OK.”

After Levi went to sleep I returned to our bedroom to find the two dogs and my husband cuddling eerily on our bed. That’s when he confessed his murderous crime. I didn’t ask for the details. The thought of my gentle husband smooshing the life out of any creature, be it in self-defense or not, was too much for me to bear.

I chastised him mercilessly for failing to do something sensible like calling 911 or scooping up our son and canines and rushing madly from the house. “I had to protect my family,” he told me bravely, “I had no other choice.” I admit I kind of liked seeing him as a lone cowboy standing guard over us, his unprotected herd. After all, most of the time he’s just the big lug who leaves his dishes in the sink and socks strewn across the bedroom floor.

I found myself texting everyone I knew. “Nerdy Jewish doctor or ruthless Rattle snake slayer? You decide.” He caught me mid text. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Aren’t you going to bed?”

“Oh yeah,” I stammered. “Just had to finish a few emails. I’ll be right in.”

He took a few steps towards the bedroom a la John Wayne, then stopped and turned back to me, “Well goodnight, little lady.” he declared in a low manly voice. Then with a tip of his mythical hat he added, “And remember; Don’t squat with yer spurs on.”  And with that, he sauntered off into the distance, leaving me with only the shadow of his courageous smile and the memory of his selfless bravery.


Believe me it hurts me more than it hurts you!

Eli's poem 😦

Being a parent sucks! I’m serious. Why can’t we just love our kids, play with them and have fun? Instead we have to teach them lessons, watch them suffer, and worry about them every waking moment. It simply is not fair!

Today is a bad day. I open a big show tonight. It’s been a grueling few months. I’m tired, strung out and full of anxiety about the performance. So my adoring spouse decided to let me sleep in and drove the boys to school this morning. On any other morning I would have been thrilled. But when I awoke around 9am and stumbled into the kitchen for a much needed double espresso, I discovered a sight so horrific, I wanted to crawl back under the covers and never emerge again.

You see, there on the counter, all ready for transport, sat my 8 year old son Eli’s painstakingly created diorama and all the accoutrements of his poetry project that were due today. My heart sank. He has worked so hard on this project it’s unbelievable. This was an injustice I had to make right.

I threw on some clothes, grabbed the diorama and poems and ran out to the car to rescue him. But there was a hint of doubt filtering through my mind that I couldn’t quite shake. Of course I was doing the right thing by bringing him the project. Wasn’t I?

I called my husband at work. “Just wanted to check in on what went down this morning. It looks like with you driving the boys and the change in the routine, Eli forgot his poetry project and I know they’re presenting them today,” I could hear the guilt in my voice even as I tried to sound neutral. “So, I’m just gonna swing by and drop it off for him.”
Silence. “OK?” I added beseechingly.

The icy voice on the other end of the phone chilled me to the core. “No. Don’t bring him the project. He has to learn from this. If you go running to school to save him, this entire painful experience will have been for naught.”

“But it really isn’t his fault,” I clamored. “If I would have taken him, I would have made sure he brought the project. Don’t you think this is an extenuating circumstance?”

“No, I don’t,” my husband cooly replied. “Debra, this is a perfect lesson in taking and owning responsibility for himself. Don’t rob him of it.”

“But…but…but…” I couldn’t get the words out. “But he’s only 8! And he must be devastated,” I could hear my sobs backing up in my throat.

“But he wont forget his school work ever again if we let him learn this lesson,” my husband countered. “Besides, you don’t have to see his broken-hearted expression in your mind every day for the rest of your life. I do. It’s brutal.”

So I came back into the house, replaced the diorama on the counter alongside the poetry book, and tried not to feel like the worst parent on the planet. But it’s hard. I believe so firmly in the “Love and Logic” approach to parenting in which we are engaging. I see my friends with older kids, and I know that the lessons grow ever more complex and challenging as kids grow up. Learning personal responsibility today could very well save a child from making a really bad decision when he’s older; and the truth is that the stakes get incredibly high as kids get older.

I’ve asked most of my friends whether they think I did the right thing. Most of them say yes, but they add that they would never have done it themselves. That makes their tacit nod of approval feel like condemnation of the highest form. I guess we’ll just have to walk this path alone and stay true to the principles of natural consequence in which we believe.

But, just in case you feel compelled to comment and tell me that I did the right thing, feel free. It might help me sleep a bit easier tonight. But no pressure.

Union busting

Please help me! My kids have unionized and taken a strict “no camp” position which they insist is non-negotiable. I, on the other hand, come to the mediation table with an equally undebatable policy that not only demands full-time summer camp, but also promises a complete maternal break-down and subsequent walk-out if my demands are not met.

Bottom line; I do not have the time, capacity or stamina to entertain my children 24-7 for 3 months of summer activities. I have come to believe that there are some women (even perhaps a few men) for whom this would not only be possible, but, dare I say, even enjoyable. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I’m not even good at entertaining myself for unstructured stretches of time extending beyond 15 minutes. The combination of me and children for days at a time at record temperatures is like a highly combustible mixture of picric acid and sodium hydroxide. Not something you want happening around the house.

My husband has sided with the children. “You can’t force them to go to summer camp,” he admonishes. “Besides, it’s expensive. And you know how it’ll be to fight every day and force them to go against their wills.”

“Yes,” I concede, “It’ll be hell on a daily basis. But, if I were to put it in Dante-esque terms, I’d have to say that the daily tiffs were more like the first circle, while staying at home with them from June through August plunges into the ninth.” My husband stared at me in bewilderment. He’s not a big Alighieri fan.

“They’ll play together,” he proffers with the simplicity Jack the Dullard. “Yeah,” I reply sarcastically, “Until one of them gets mad and hits the other with a croquet mallet. This is a horrible idea.”

“OK, we’ll hire someone,” he concedes, realizing that unless he’s ready to reenact a modern day version of Medea, he’d better start coming up with a Plan B. “We can use the money we would have spent on summer camp to hire sitters and then they can hang out, relax and swim everyday. It’ll be awesome.”

At this point, I am virtually speechless. I do manage to spit out a single intelligible phrase. “They will be bored in three days time.” Then he slams me with the argument I abhor most. “Well, I didn’t go to summer camp and I managed to entertain myself all summer long. They’re kids. They just want to play.” Then to add insult to injury he adds, “You know, summer camp is an option, not a god-given right. You act like every kid is entitled to go to summer camp.”

“No,” I harshly retort, “Every reasonably sane mother is entitled to send her children out of the house for at least six hours a day. I don’t want to end up a gelatinous puddle of tears every day by the time you get home from work. Trust me, this will not make anyone happy.”

To be honest, I am used to getting my way when it comes to family issues. I often rely heavily on the “I’m the mom, and what I say goes” philosophy of family dynamics. But somehow in this case, I’m not feeling up to waging that battle.

So, we’re going for it. The boys and I will be hanging out at the pool this summer. Feel free to stop by…anytime. We’ll just be here…doing nothing…all day…every day. Dear Lord, please help me find some sort of mental sanity, internal patience, and emotional serenity for what I am about to endure. And please take note that I am on the record saying this may be the single most cataclysmic parenting decision we have made to date.

Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

My husband is a genius. Please do not, under any circumstance, reveal this information to him. However, I have to tell you that he has invented the single most brilliant behavior modification technique in the history of child-rearing. And it’s actually working!

My seven-year-old son, Eli, is a highly intelligent, creative youngster with an iron will and emotional intensity that’s off the charts. To say he’s been a challenge lately would be like saying Tim Tebow considers himself moderately religious.

In all sincerity, I was ready to throw in the parenting towel and either send him off to boarding school or ship myself out to the coast to some chi-chi wellness center to try and recover a modicum of sanity. But Mark, my husband, cured his behavioral misconduct with one word: FOOTBALL.

Eli is obsessed with football. He lives, breathes and sleeps football. In fact, if I would let him, he would talk incessantly about football, play football in the backyard from dawn to dusk, and literally eat pig skin morning, noon and night if it wasn’t such a dietary no-no in our religion.

Never in a million years would I have thought that football, the bane of my existence, would restore my life to harmony and return my family to a state of peace and well-being. But thanks to Mark, that’s exactly what happened.

You see my husband Mark is a highly intelligent, creative man with an iron will and emotional intensity that’s off the charts. (Funny how that apple analogy keeps coming up.) He’s also the only person on the planet who is more competitive than Eli. So, determined to win the battle of the wills with our son and get his tantrums, hysterics, and irrational behavior under control, Mark invented a fantasy football game that allows Eli to gain yardage for proper behavior, score touchdowns for initiating positive actions and win major rivalry matches for controlling his anger and expressing his feelings appropriately. On the other hand, there are interceptions, fumbles and high scoring opponents whenever behavior takes a turn for the worse.

Their games are intricate and intense, They hold Eli’s attention and stimulate his imagination. And due to his acute competitive edge, he desperately wants to win these games and propel his team (the New York Giants) all the way to the imaginary Super Bowl.

We have seen a 180 degree turn in his behavior since initiating this game. It’s hard to believe. The other day, just as a meltdown was pending over a disastrous Mario Kart Wii showdown with his brother, I broke the news that his rival team of the day, the Denver Broncos, had recovered a fumble at the 50 yard line and were running the ball down the field at an almost unstoppable pace. He took a few deep breaths and regained his composure just in time to tackle Champ Bailey at the Giant’s 30 yard line.

I will admit it’s taken a while for me to figure out the ins and outs of the exercise. Mostly because I abhor football and have never had even the slightest inkling to learn about the game. But besides one embarrassing gaff the other day when I had Eli Manning throw a touch-down pass to Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone, I’ve been pretty much holding my own. I’m even getting into it and enjoying the sport for the first time ever.

Hey, wait a minute. Maybe this whole thing is Mark’s sneaky way of modifying my snarky football attitude. Behavior modification X2. Woah. That’s either brilliant or…downright Machiavellian. Oh heck, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean “tis the season” and all that crap.

Happy Holidays! And may your New Year be filled with endless touchdown passes, countless first downs, and unlimited extra points!

Flash football!

I missed the memo that light-up sneakers were no longer cool.

Racing down the field at dusk, all we could make out was a faint outline of his body, his freshly cut hair bobbing up and down softly, and the bright red and blue police lights of his Skechers illuminating his path.

“How embarrassing!” My husband moaned.

“What do you mean?” I inquired, wondering if I’d missed our youngest son, Eli, fumble a pass or lose one of his football flags to an aggressive opponent.

“His sneakers,” my husband lamented, “They light up.”

“I know,” I smiled. “Aren’t they cute? He thinks they make him go faster.”

“It’s humiliating,” he retorted. “We have got to get him new shoes.”

“But he loves those shoes,” I insisted. “Besides, they’re brand new. We had to search for days to find a pair of these in his size. Plus they were not cheap.”

“Do you know why they were so hard to locate?” he challenged.

“No,” I confessed.

“Because big kids do not wear sneakers that light up like police cars!” he reproached,  “Only babies wear those.”

“Don’t you think you’re being a little over-sensitive?” I asked. Then, surveying the field, I added, “It doesn’t look like anyone else has even noticed.”

“Not yet,” he snipped. “But it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the laughing stock of the team. Then the kids will exclude him from everything. No one will ever pass him the ball. It’s just a disaster waiting to happen.”

“O.K.,” I said, rather astonished by his catastrophic prophecy. “But I think you’re maybe over-reacting. Does this per chance bring up something painful from your own past?”

“Please don’t psychoanalyze me,” he said defensively. “I just know how cruel kids can be.”

Sensing that I’d hit a nerve, I decided to back off and run a different play. I suggested asking our son directly if he felt funny about wearing his light-up sneakers. My husband agreed, albeit reluctantly, and after a Gatorade and some Cheez-Its, we broached the delicate subject. Eli confessed that no one else on his team, or in his grade at school for that matter, sported the light-up sneakers. He even accepted the fact that they might be designed for a younger demographic. He surprised both of us with an easy willingness to switch to another brand.

We both secretly congratulated each other on how mature and rational our youngest child had suddenly become. There were no tears, no theatrics, not even a hint of upset. We were proud. Our baby was becoming a thoughtful young man.

“However,” Eli guilefully insisted, “My new shoes will have to be Geox. Because Jacob has those and he says they have super-hero powers and can make you jump higher than Wolverine and run faster than Flash!”

We both smiled at each other. O.K., so maybe he’s not all that mature just yet. But at least he’ll have a new pair of sneakers. And who knows, maybe they’ll improve his game after all.