The hotel with a mild personality disorder
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The hotel with a mild personality disorder

Welcome to the Ganchrow Garden Inn. I am your concierge, Banji.

Please feel free to leave your luggage all over the living room and place your specific food and drink orders prior to your arrival. It is imperative that you let us know about any allergies and if there are any concerns you might have about your stay. Do you require one pillow or two? Feathers or foam pillows? Do you need a blanket or just a sheet? Or a sheet and a blanket and an extra comforter? Do you prefer a bottle of water by your bed or a glass? Flat or sparkling? If needed, please leave your laundry in a bag by the door and it will be done before you return home from minyan in the morning.

Meals are served whenever you need them to be. There is a table filled with fruits, vegetables, and various cookies, cakes, and snacks. The refrigerator is filled with a vast selection of non-alcoholic beverages. The alcoholic beverages are not for you. Just saying. And don’t worry about throwing out your cups, plates, or bottles. That is the concierge’s job, and she does it with a smile. If you are interested in any activities — ping pong, floor hockey, ironing, or laundry folding — please put your name on the list posted by the hockey room and someone will get back to you.

Why am I writing about the Ganchrow Garden Inn? Well, son #2 is a wonderful friend. And the week before camp, he welcomed some of his friends to our home for almost a week. The week before camp. When he should have been packing and shopping in order to complete his packing. But why would he do that when he could entertain his friends from London, France, and Israel? Why would he do that when he has a mother who he thinks still will pack for him. Even though he is 20 years old…

So the week before he is to go to camp, nothing is getting done. And I cannot gently remind him that he needs to get his stuff organized (gently remind is code for scream my brains out because I am so frustrated that he isn’t doing anything to start getting organized). Why can’t I gently remind him? Because we have a house full of boys who still might think that I am a normal and well adjusted mother. Ha ha ha, little do they know. I was on my very best behavior. I even surprised myself and my kids. And husband #1. Calm mommy was a whole new personality.

But then the night before we were leaving for camp came. Shabbos finally ended around 9:20 p.m., and the packing was to begin. No one was packing. With 12 hours to go before we were to pack up the car, I started to unravel. Slowly but surely, I was descending into my normal state of madness. Why aren’t you packing? What aren’t you packing? WHY AREN’T YOU PACKING???????? It wasn’t pretty — but it did take me five days to get there. So that was something. Ya, that was something that everyone forgot when my ears started to spin and my eyes were bulging out. But then, after totally scaring my houseguest (who, according to son #2, was wearing his headphones and didn’t hear anything) will I ever know if that was true? I guess if he never comes back we will know that he, indeed, heard everything.

In any event, I began to think about my behavior when the guests were in the house. And then about my behavior when I think that no one is watching. And then, because all of the mussar that has been going on in my home since son #2 has come back from Israel (what is mussar? Words of Torah that are told in a manner than anyone can understand, even me) I began to think that shouldn’t I be on my best behavior all of the time, because God is watching? And then I began to think that maybe God wants us to feel like he is part of the family and we should just be who we are. More or less. In my case, probably less.

And then I began to think that I had better help my kids pack or they will be walking around camp for seven weeks with one pair of underwear and flip flops. So we will save the philosophical discussion for another time, and I just hope that I didn’t scare son #2’s lovely friends too badly…

Wishing everyone who is getting rid of their kids for the summer a wonderful, safe and healthy few weeks!

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is still considering getting a dog because the house is way too quiet….

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