“I’m making pah-tee for Daddy!”
Last night, before sunset, Isabelle was planning a “party” in her kitchen for her a daddy. She gathered pretend cookies, a kiddie teapot, and other assorted goodies in a basket. She carried them to the great room, deposited them on the floor, and hustled back to her play kitchen.
Back and forth she went, from the kitchen to the great room and back to the kitchen again. But it was time for Shabbat.
“Isabelle, you may continue your party after we do our Shabbat prayers,” I said.
“NO!” she shouted in my general direction.
“Isabelle, we need you to come here before Shabbat starts,” my husband said.
“NO!” she howled.
A few minutes passed.
“You may bring your chair over to light candles,” I said.
“NO! I’m making pah-tee for Daddy!” she exclaimed seeming exasperated with us.
Marc and I looked at each other. We were feeling a little exasperated with her. This was not exactly the shalom bayit I dream of when I think of how Friday nights usually go. Usually she’s excited to drink the grape juice and eat challah. Usually she’s excited to help set up for Shabbat. Usually she brings a chair over to the kitchen island, where we say the blessings over the candles, her, the fruit of the vine, and the challah. But not last night. Nope. Last night she just wanted to play.
“If you don’t come over, then you’re not going to eat challah,” my husband stated.
I was less than thrilled that he was dangling that in front of her, but what choice did we seem to have.
“Yes call-ah!” she retorted.
“Then come over here,” he said.
“No. I make pah-tee for YOU!”
“Then no challah,” he said.
Not even the threat of not eating challah, which she loves to devour, was motivating her.
THINK Stacey, think!
I walked over to Isabelle’s Daddy party she was setting up.
“No mommy! Dis for Daddy!”
I ignored the slight, knelt down beside her and said, “I want to talk to you about something, Isabelle.”
She stared at me through her big blueberry eyes with her bottom lip stuck out a bit.
“Yes call-ah!” she shouted.
I took her toddler-sized hands in mine and held them gently. It was time to take a different approach.
“You know how you work hard all week with Miss Marie and Miss Kelly on your talking?”
“They’re helping you learn how to get your words out, right?”
She nodded again.
“Well, you work hard all week long. And it’s very hard work to get your words out… I know that. You go to see Miss Marie and Kelly and then you practice at home with mommy. And you also go to Miss Mandy and Miss Jena and Joanna and that’s hard work too. You work so hard, all week long.” I paused to let that sink in. “Well, Shabbat is a time where we leave the work we did all week behind and we stop. We don’t work on Shabbat. We rest. Don’t you want to take some time to rest from all of the hard work you did this week?”
“I thought you would. So, put your party aside. You can have the party later. Come and celebrate all of the hard work you did with me and Daddy.”
I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed. “I love you very much. Will you come and join us for Shabbat so we can take a break from all of that hard work you did this week?”
“Okay,” she said.
“Do you need help pulling over your chair or can you do it yourself.”
“I need help,” she replied.
And just like that she came over. I pulled over her chair and we kindled the Shabbos lights.
And just like that I vowed not to do picture cards or speech work with her on Shabbat because everyone deserves a day of rest when they work for six days straight.