To Cleveland, to Cleveland, to Cleveland we go!
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To Cleveland, to Cleveland, to Cleveland we go!

Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems. When I first heard this saying and my kids were little, I thought, “Ha, ha. You don’t know what you are talking about.” After all, once you finish toilet training your kids, what problems could you possibly have after that? I think someone should write a book and list all of these problems. In age order. Solving each problem with specific answers and techniques. 

What to do when your child is a biter? (I only had one child bitten once by another child, so that wasn’t my problem.) What to do when your child isn’t a good sharer? (Also not a problem I had with my perfect progeny.) What to do when your child uses bad language? (Hmm, I think that is actually a problem that I have.) And an all-time favorite — what to do when your child likes wearing the same item of clothing every single day? (Again, not a problem I had…. I am so blessed.)

Then there are the more complex problems, which aren’t really problems, but are issues. Like what do you do when your child becomes more religious than you are? What do you do when your child becomes less religious than you are? What do you do when your child drops out of high school and wants to sell watermelons by the highway? What do you do when your child votes for Trump? Yup, someone really needs to write a book of solutions.

And then, there is this. What do you do when two of your boys tell you that they want to drive 13 hours to and from Cleveland to go to a football game? Of course, the game is the Cleveland Browns against the Carolina Panthers. For those of you who have been paying attention to past columns, son #3 has been a Carolina Panthers fan since his problems included carrying his “boppy” around EVERYWHERE…. (After he finally relinquished it, we ripped off a piece and put it in the freezer, where it will stay for all eternity.) 

Son #1 and son #3 were so excited about this plan — a plan that only two clueless boys would find exciting. Driving six and a half hours after Shabbos, showing up in Cleveland at 2:30 in the morning, and staying at a friend’s parents’ house. “Don’t worry, we won’t be waking them up. They are so excited that we are coming to stay with them!” (And since they are out-of-towners, they probably really were excited that they were coming to stay with them!) In true my-son-form, they found a Shacharit (morning prayer) minyan, a Mincha (afternoon prayer) minyan, and last but not least, a Maariv (evening prayer) minyan.

Of course there was a catch. The game started at 1, and Mincha was at 4:30. What happened if the game went into extra innings? (Oops, wrong sport.) What happened if the game went into overtime? What happened if the game ran late due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control? The possibilities of missing a minyan were endless — and husband #1 wanted nothing to do with it. Because the other catch was that husband #1 and crazy mom didn’t really want the boys to go. You get nervous when your kids drive around the block, but letting them drive to Cleveland, by themselves, was too much for our delicate stomachs to handle.

But no one was listening to us, because the boys were so excited about going — but more importantly, about going together. And very few things make a boymom happier than having her boys want to spend quality time together. Except, of course, if those same boys want to spend quality time with each other AND their mom….

The sun set over Teaneck, the Chanukah candles were lit, and off they went.

Twenty-nine hours later, my beautiful boys were back and were chock full of stories of things that I knew nothing about, but I was so happy that they were talking to me that I pretended I had some idea what they were talking about. Because with all of the problems and issues, it’s nice to know that, every once in a while, you do something right…

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is sad to say that the Carolina Panthers are not making it to playoffs this season, after five consecutive losses. I couldn’t tell you what the Rams were doing because the son who followed them has been in a beit medrash learning for the entirety of football season. Not that there is anything wrong with that….

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