Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Shorts: 'Caring' Too Much, 'Despicable Me,' Sabbath Family Dinners Feed the Soul?

During a recent trip to the public library with the Picket Fence Post kids, The Eldest Boy saw the book, Parents Who Care Too Much, displayed atop a book case. “You should read that,” he said, a twinkle in his eyes.


We were on our way to go see Despicable Me, our trip timed so that we’d miss the coming attractions because we’ve had some bad experiences with violent/inappropriate trailers for films freakin’ my kids out in the past. The way I calculated it, we’d make it into the theater approximately 15 minutes after the listed start time so I figured we’d be sitting down just as the feature presentation began. (Before Toy Story 3 began on opening weekend, the trailers went on for 20+ minutes.)

Until I heard this from The Youngest boy when we were a third of the way there: “Oh no! I forgot my shoes!”


Speaking of Despicable Me . . . I really liked the movie (as did the kids), particularly its amusing reference to The Bank of Evil, “formerly known as Lehman Brothers.” I was similarly amused to see the villain/adopted dad Gru having trouble balancing working from home with caring for his three adopted daughters, particularly when he was on a “work call” and doing a presentation that was messed up by the kiddos, causing embarrassment and leading to Gru’s colleagues questioning his dedication to his craft of supreme, treacherous villainy.

At least I’m not the only work-from-home parent who feels torn between work and cute-by-intrusive kiddos every 10 minutes.

Read an intriguing piece in the New York Times yesterday about a mini-trend (if indeed it’s actually a trend, because sometimes I'm skeptical when I see "trend" stories): Restoring the observance of a Sabbath, not necessarily to worship or pray, but as a way to connect with others.

The article discussed Jewish folks who were trying to cut back on Saturday activities, avoiding engaging in “commerce,” scaling back on the use of technology, etc. and instead spending time with one another’s family, friends and community by sharing a weekly meal together, maybe getting outside more often. There were some Christians who were also quoted who are trying to do the same thing only on Sundays.

A former priest/author provided this fascinating quote about observing a “Sabbath” weekend day which includes a family meal: “Its roots are religious. As Christians, we have completely lost the sense of the origins of the Mass, which is the Eucharist, which is a meal. If Jesus were to visit us, it would have the Sunday dinner he would have insisted on being a part of, not the worship service at church.” Was he saying that the Sabbath/Sunday family meal is as sacred as the Eucharist, that it feeds the soul?

‘Twas an interesting concept which I tried in vain to discuss with The Spouse over the breakfast table, musing about whether we should commit to our own dinner ritual on Sunday afternoons (when Patriots' games could be DVRed in the fall and we’d be done with dinner in time for The Spouse to make his men’s basketball league games on Sunday evenings, RIGHT in the middle of the dinner hour). However The Spouse was too consumed with playing the game of Life with The Youngest Boy and The Girl to have a real discussion about it. Or perhaps he was simply avoiding getting sucked into one of my new crusades which would mean we’d have to spend part of Sundays afternoons cooking. Hmm.


  1. Our family is Jewish, and we have a family Shabbat dinner almost every Friday night (usually skipped only if we happen to be traveling to go away for the weekend). Occasionally, we have another family join us, but usually it's just the four of us. If I'm lucky enough to get home a bit earlier than my husband and children (6 and 2), I try to get the table set so that it immediately sets the mood when they walk in the house. Part of the ritual is lighting candles, and that moment, along with the blessing we bestow upon the children, is a wonderful, physical break from the craziness of the week and the start of a weekend with each other. We eat dinner as a family most nights, but the extra rituals of Shabbat make it different and special, and I look forward to it all day on Fridays. Hope you can find a way to bring that into your family too.

  2. I liked your comments about the previews - I took my 4 yr old and 8 yr old to Toy Story 3, and there were clearly several trailers NOT suited for the audience (no matter what they say on the screen). My 4yr old was so wound up by the time the movie started that the beginning of TS3 freaked him out. Why do they do that when they know the movie's audience is ages 3-10?


  3. LilMisBusy -- Your description of the Shabbat meal your family has sounds great, especially being able to break bread with another family, creating a sense of community that's not hurried or rushed. The challenges we face with our kids -- soon to be 9, two soon to be 12 -- is that their activity/sports schedules frequently cause headaches and threaten to swallow the family calendar. I'm going to have to work on that if I to have Sunday dinners. Maybe start with baby steps like a Sunday dinner every couple of weeks to start.

    Alysia -- When I took my older children to see the PG-rated Harry Potter movie last year, they were treated to scenes from the apocolyptic 2012, complete with reference to suicide and the end of the world. Ever since then, we try to arrive late if we can, provided we can get seats.