Jewish Journal

Four-Year-Old Faux Pas

by Mihal Levy

July 15, 2010 | 10:00 am

You know those uncomfortable moments when you cringe after having just said something that you probably should not have, but it just comes out?  Those moments where you wish you could just hit rewind and take back what you just said?  Well, that moment is magnified when it is your child who has perfect comedic timing in a given situation, where you don’t know if to laugh, laugh it off, or run for the hills. (That’s of course if you care what someone else thinks at the moment.)  My son and I tend to have a lot of them.  I just think it is comedic genius, others not so much.

I bought my son new sand toys before we headed out to our Jewish park day to socialize with other homeschooling parents.  I thought coming in with new sand toys might help the other kids acclimate quickly and even help me fit in with the other parents. Apparently my plan worked, because as soon as we got to the park, the other children ran over to the perfect pail to make soup.  Mud soup of course.  My son was accepted quickly.  Myself, however, that was a different story.  (I don’t know what they had against me.  They just preferred not acknowledging me…ever. )

My son gladly gave up his pail to the older kids when he was ordered to, as they sent off the other four and five-year-olds to gather the “ingredients.”  The little kids left and came back with the ingredients they collected for the soup.  Rocks that were apparently vegetables, sand granules that were anything from spices to chicken to soap (go figure) and then my son’s ingredient: ham.

Ham?  My son ran over to the crowded pail and handed over his ingredient and said, “Here you go.  Ham.”  The kids stopped what they were doing.  The moms now glared at me with an “of course” look in their eyes.  They were observant women and there I was in pants (not wearing my affiliation on my sleeve or my pants for that matter) with a son adding ham to a soup.  They looked at me as if my son had just told them he was Mel Gibson.

I looked at my son in great surprise and started laughing because I thought it was perfect.  I already stood out like a sore thumb, regardless of the many times I tried to fit in; what was one more point against me?

He surely did not get it from me.  To begin with, I am a vegetarian and practically raise him as one as well.  He has never seen ham, or had ham.  We would never bring ham into our home.  Now the moms grew furious at my laughter.  I couldn’t imagine what was going through their heads.  Maybe they were thinking that I really wasn’t Jewish after all and that it was all a setup just to be part of their park day. If I fed my son ham, what else must I be doing? Reading out of the Satanic Bible?  (No, that was during my teenage years.)  They now had good reason not to associate with me.  After all, I must’ve fed my son ham and that would make me a very bad Jew.  Did they fear that I would try to feed ham to their children at the park?  I was very much an outsider before, and now fully.  Would I be banned from park day?

I was just as curious as they were.  Where did my son learn about ham?  So I walked over and pulled him aside.  For one, to thank him for his perfect comedic timing; and two, for giving the observant moms a real reason to hate me.  (Besides my pants.)  And I dared asked, “what is ham?”  To which he replied, “a food.”  I further probed, “where did you learn about ham?”  He replied with a straight face, “from Dr. Seuss - Green Eggs and Ham.”

I wanted to tell him not to put the ham into the soup, but it was too late.  The ham (a.k.a. sticks) made it into the soup as the other mothers made their way out of the sandbox.  One mother even went as far as saying, “Now we can’t eat it.”  Was she going to eat it before?  It had soap in it.  Who was the wise one that threw THAT into the mix?

It was good to know that at least my library days were paying off, as opposed to Jewish park days, as evidenced by my son’s comedic genius.


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Mihal Levy used to collect degrees as a hobby.  After receiving her B.S. and M.S. degrees, she worked as a psychotherapist and research scientist before continuing her hobby of...

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