Last night, my synagogue hosted its annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration, in which the clergy and members of local religious groups come together to share prayers and songs of hope and understanding. With all the distress in the world, it’s a night I really do savor, especially because of the adorable children’s choirs. And I’ll say this much for world peace: If the religious leaders of several faiths can survive my eight-year-old son, there may be hope for us all.
It was a packed house. By arriving just on time, I was relegated to the balcony, where I looked on with my 12-year-old daughter.
From what I’ve seen in his practices, my son, Adam, is one of the more fidgety members of the Shaaray School of Rock (junior choir)—and sometimes he even likes to wave his arms around conductor-like in keeping with the choir’s leader, our temple’s very patient and forbearing Cantor. Last night, in front of hundreds from the community, Adam managed to restrain himself during the performances, hands at his sides, eyes mostly on the Cantor, singing out loud, he did a good job.
When the last song was over, however, his solo performance began. At the moment the Cantor signaled that they were done, Adam dashed across the stage ahead of his choir peers to secure the best seat in the house—front row off the aisle. Then, from what I could see from the balcony, he refused to yield the seat to the girl who had been sitting in it prior to the performance. She sat down anyway and they awkwardly squished up next to each other so that neither was quite sitting down. Meanwhile, as other groups of kids took the stage and performed, Adam and the girl seemed to be carrying on a game of who could annoy each other more, including words, nudges, and funny faces.
Occasionally, Adam looked up and back at me, and I did my flailing best to signal that he better stop what he was doing and pay attention to the performers.
I was kind of mortified. His big sister was definitely mortified.
At the end of the night, our head Rabbi was joined by all the other clergy in the front of the congregation, where they said some final prayers and led us in an uplifting rendition of “America The Beautiful.” I figured I was finally in the clear…until Adam remembered his special skill and from the front row–facing the community’s spiritual leaders, with the whole congregation at his back–he started waving his arms around and leading everyone through the great American hymn.
He glanced up at us. “You have to stop him,” Elena said.
I couldn’t and I didn’t really want to. At this point, I yielded to forces beyond my control and my laughter surpassed my embarrassment.
I waved my arms conductor-like in response, basically giving him the green light to continue.
And he did. He even got the girl. His cute little nemesis, laughing all the way, started conducting too.
Eric Messinger is Editor of New York Family. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org