Preparing to Fail

So it’s Shavuot.

Normally, Shavuot passes without much going on in our house – yes, it’s a major holiday, but I’m not generally taking time off of work or whatnot.  On the other hand, the wife’s in the vocal ensemble at our shul, and this was an occasion where the ensemble was asked to perform.

In theory, this shouldn’t have been a major issue.  Services started at 6:30 – the ensemble was going to accompany the service – and would be over by 7:15.  At that point, I’d take the kids home, and she’d go enjoy a nice dairy dinner with the congregants who came for ma’ariv and the study session and their second performance.

Now, setting aside a couple of my pet peeves getting tickled last night, my procedure at shul is fairly well established – I bring the kids in and go to the quiet room, by myself when she’s performing.  When we arrived at shul last night, the blinds were drawn from the quiet room into the main sanctuary – they’re on the other side of the glass – and the speakers were off.

Well, said I to myself, I can manage the kids in the back pew for forty-five minutes, and everyone knows that the Monster has Autism and isn’t really the most keen on being in synagogue.


For starters, the Monster has been showing more and more sensitivity to sounds, real or imagined.  So a lot of getting him to settle into a seat in the sanctuary was just convincing him that he could sit there with his hands over his ears.  That was followed by breaking the major “no food” rule and giving both children their juices to see how far through ma’ariv we could get.  (Answer: The Sh’ma.)

Essentially… I made it through the service by plying both of them with raisins carefully rationed out every so many words.  (I was woefully unprepared.)  The Monster was actually better than the baby, who wanted to be more in motion than I was permitting, and it did end up with my having to take the baby out into the lobby when he couldn’t be quieted.

So… lessons learned.  I think we need to make sure that the congregation’s aware when I’m coming to something other than major holidays or Shabbat with the kids, so that they make sure that they’re going to have the quiet room prepped for us.  I know that’s horrible to say, but… I should be able to daven without having to worry about my kids disrupting the rest of the congregation.  (I can daven with them being little banshees, frankly.)  I suppose it probably wasn’t obvious to anyone that it would be necessary, since they were the youngest kids there by years and years… but still.  We can’t expect them to be prepared for us if no one says anything… and it’s bad on us for having assumed that the quiet room would be available.

That… and I just should pack more food in the future.

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