Yesterday, I took the kids to the toy store so they could spend their pocket money on a new something for pesach. (We give each kid $1-2 per week.) Amirah has been happily spending her money on beads and making necklaces and bracelets and giving them to friends and family. She does a beautiful job too! She was a bit put out to find out she only had $1.25 left, while the others had $15 or more (but I set a limit at $15 for the pesach toy). First, she offered Raizel four jellybeans if she would loan her some money. Her backup plan was to pay Eli $0.25 to borrow $6.00. We explained that a Jew cannot charge another Jew interest, so that was not something she could do. Then we had a talk about what it meant to borrow money, and why people borrow money. We explained that buying a toy "on credit" was not a good habit to get into. It may seem harmless now, but when you're a grownup it can be disastrous. Not wanting to plant the "easy credit" seed we didn't allow her to borrow money for a toy. We explained that borrowing money is best left for buying a house or if you have a true emergency like, G-d forbid, a medical situation. She then had the (heartily approved of) idea of going to Good Will to see if there was something there. Unfortunately, toys were in short supply and nothing much was there. We ended up at the toy store, and she did find a windup toy that she liked for $1 and it all worked out AND she was HAPPY WITH WHAT SHE HAD. What better lesson to teach? Yes, I would have loved to have handed her $5 and tell her not to worry about it, but this lesson was far more valuable than $5.
On another note, one reason I really like the McGuffey readers are the morality stories. My most recent favorite was as follows. A rich boy and a poor boy were both the top students in their school. Sometimes the rich boy would be at the top, sometimes the poor boy. At the end of the year, the poor boy was at the top. When classes resumed the poor boy was no longer in attendance. Did the rich boy celebrate that at last he could be at the top? NO. He went to the poor boy's house to find out what happened. It turned out that his widowed mother could no longer afford tuition and books. The rich boy paid for the tuition and books out of his own pocket, enabling the poor boy to return to school (and to his top place), not concerned at all that he would not be the top student. Amirah was reading this story to me, and I actually felt tears welling up!
And another note... pesach cleaning has enabled a lot of lost objects to return to their rightful places/owners. We were very glad to find our Chofetz Chaim family lesson book on lashon hara. We resumed where we left off, and while we did find things to do instead in the meantime it felt really good to be back to this one.
And pesach is coming! Today was an excellent cleaning day. We got quite a lot done, and tomorrow is all clear to finish the non-kitchen stuff. The kids have been happily and cheerfully helping, as we improvise songs about how happy we are that we are free to clean for pesach and to serve Hashem and not some human master. We had such a good time today! The kids thought it was hilarious. I think they are also appreciating the break from our routine, and are very much looking forward to the arrival of Doda S. (as are we).
This is probably the most relaxed and happy I've ever felt going into pesach. I know a large part is that the kids are SO much more helpful now. Since purim, I also have been doing a lot of little things every day (really 10-20 minutes tops per day for the first couple of weeks). I'm actually looking forward to pesach food, which I usually don't so much. Getting lots of really good veggies IY"H should really help. I'm going to get a lot of eggs, but am really going to try not to cook with quite as many as our usual number. Lots and lots of salads and some fresh fish. It will be good.
I've also missed friends and family more than usual this last week or so. It takes a long time to build new friendships. Twelve years in Portland, and I had many much-beloved friends. I have a good start here, but sometimes I wish I could wrap myself up in a pile of old friends. I've been thinking of seders past too, and wishing that some of those old seder friends could be at our table this year. Ahhhhh... the nice part is that there are so many, many kind people here that really went out of their way to make us feel welcome when we arrived (some of whom have already moved away, and some of whom are pondering moving away this year!), and while I still feel "new" (and still have an embarrassingly terrible time matching names and faces and occasional trouble sorting out who I have and haven't met before, leading to a bit of social fumbling!!!) I feel very settled and happy. (How's that for a run-on sentence?)
So... on with the week, and on with the sleep. The plumber team arrives tomorrow to replace our pipe! Should be a one-day job, then we'll get the culprit tree and in-the-way-of-the-garden stump removed/grinded before they re-lay the driveway concrete later in the week. In time for pesach, IY"H!