Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back to school

My oldest daughter has a small collection of little plastic dreidels. Sometimes she randomly pulls them out of her toybox to play with them. Just the other day, she figured out how to spin one for the first time.
She was beaming - a grin from ear to ear, as was proud papa (of course, whenever your kid figures out how to do something, and you see that confidence brimming, you can't help but love it.) But then, the dreidel stopped spinning...and my problem started.
"Daddy - what letter is that?"
Look, I, like every other dad, wants to be the hero. We want our kids to believe we can do anything, and that we know anything. Broken toy? Daddy can fix it. How does a frog jump? I got it. Financial derivatives? No sweat. We need our kids to feel like they can always rely on us, and we'll come through. That's what we live for - call it ego if you want, but it's what every dad aspires to.
And I've fixed a TON of stuff to prove my worthinees of being called "Dad"; but it all came crashing down with one simple question related to a little plastic toy. I was forced to look my darling daughter straight in the eye and say those three words that can bring an image crashing to earth: "I don't know."
Look - those letters all look alike. I can't even say it may as well be Greek to me because I had the Greek alphabet drilled into me during pledging in college (different blog for a different time). I tried to recall last year's rousing game of dreidel with my highly enthusiastic father-in-law (whom I love dearly) - how does it go? Shin, put one in? But no dice...
I couldn't tell if she was confused (as in "wait a minute, that doesn't seem right. Daddy knows everything. Maybe I heard it wrong") or incredulously disappointed ("Wait a minute. Are you saying I've been fed a fallacy all 4 1/2 years of my life??? You mean you DON'T know anything? I've been had?!?!).
I tried to recover quickly. I followed up with "but it's okay. When you go to Hebrew school, you can teach me the letters!" hoping that empowering her with such a notion would take the sting off the cold harsh reality.
I'm not sure how that went over. She quickly moved on to the next thing that bounced itself into her mile-a-minute brain. But I wonder whether or not her image of me has been dashed, or even slightly tarnished.
I resolved at that point though to try to get my learn on with the Hebrew alphabet. So if anyone out there has any tips that helped them cheat their way through Hebrew school, I'm all ears.
Oh, and by the way, I think Vegas is missing the boat. I see dreidel tables right next to Pai-Gow Poker, and instead of chocolatey good gelt, their playing with Ben Franklins. Just a thought in case anyone is looking to take a gamble on the next big thing...

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