As the great Adele sings, “Hello from the other side.”
Since we last met, dear reader, I’ve had a second child, a girl, born in March. And what fun it has been. She is happy and funny and her big sister adores her. I could easily wax poetic on the subject for hours.
But I won’t. Because what you really want to know is nu, did you decide to send your daughter to the Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) or not?
And the answer is yes, she is among the navy-grey-white frocked kids dotting the Jewish Community Campus this fall. As I type, her uniforms are hanging-to-dry. Part of the community at OJCS is getting an early tip that those uniforms shrink!
This column won’t be turning into a chronicle of our upcoming adventures at OJCS. In the end, sending her there was the choice that was right for us, and we hope it is the right one for her. We are looking forward to it, though I admit some trepidation about figuring out what – and how much – to pack her for “nutrition breaks.” In my day, it was just lunch.
Of course, the Internet is full of lunch box ideas for kids. What to feed children is a challenge as old as time and one that goes beyond lunch. In that old stalwart of a Jewish cookbook, Second Helpings, Please, there’s a page devoted to ideas for kids parties that would have a home on Pinterest today.
The other day, I cracked it open the book’s orange cover, catching the pages on the black binding like always, to reach my favourite meatball recipe – tangy sweet and sour, made with ginger ale and ketchup. Dead simple, delicious, easy to double or triple and freeze. Try it, you’ll love it.
A recipe on the opposite page caught my eye: Burger Dogs. Pretty simple – take a hamburger, wrap it around a hot dog, and broil.
“A favourite of children,” the description reads, “and very nice for a birthday party.”
This year, my older daughter’s fifth birthday fell on a Friday. Given that it was her birthday, I allowed her to choose what she’d like for supper.
The answer – shocker – macaroni and cheese.
Ordinarily, no problem. The Instant Pot has revolutionized the way I make mac-and-cheese and it’s a great meal for a crowd, which this night was to include her bubbies, and aunt and uncles.
Except it was Shabbat.
Witness Second Helpings, Please’s menu suggestion to welcome in the Shabbat: chicken in white wine and Spanish tongue.
The way I – and many Jews – were raised was with a simple equation: Friday nights equal chicken. Or brisket. Or as Second Helpings, Please also suggests – those terrific meatballs.
People say second children can be a second chance, an opportunity to parent differently, be more or less of something.
Ours has brought a second helping of happiness and goodness into our lives, and if there’s a second chance there, it’s an opportunity to once again think about what family time means, what traditions we keep and which we eschew and which we build ourselves.
Much has already changed in my older daughter’s life since her sister was born. I’ve tried – and many times failed – to be aware of and acknowledge the challenges being a big sister brings. Having more than one kid means compromising, a lot.
And so – mac-and-cheese it was for our Shabbat birthday supper. And the birthday girl definitely had second helpings.
May the coming year bring all your families hearty helpings of joy, health and happiness.
And a quick final note – kol hakavod and a big thanks to Emma Mallach for so ably filling the Modern Mishpocha space while I was on hiatus. We’ll be sharing the spot over the coming months and I hope you look forward as I do to more of her thoughts.