At the end of the final leg of “The Amazing Race,” host Phil Keoghan says something like:
(insert number of continents/countries), (insert number of cities), (insert number of miles), you are the official winners of The Amazing Race.
I started tearing up as Isabelle neared her Torah portion’s final verse. Isabelle chanted her entire Torah portion, without vowels, aloud to me for the first time this afternoon. While I’ve been working with her on all of the parts of it, this was the first time she chanted it from start to finish. I was verklempt.
I wanted to be like Phil and say to her:
Isabelle. You’ve learned 18 prayers, 3 sections of your parsha from the Torah, and have triumped over a Dyslexia diagnosis while doing it. You are ready to become a Bat Mitzvah!
But I knew Isabelle wouldn’t handle my kvelling well. Instead, I gave her a big hug, several kisses on the head, and said, “Yasher Kocheich. You did it. It took you less than two months to master your Torah portion. You are ready.”
She scoffed and pushed me away.
“Look at me,” I said.
Isabelle gave me the side-eye.
“Please look at me,” I asked.
With eyes bulging, Isabelle stared at me and said, “I’m looking at you.”
“You did it! You’re ready. Why won’t you let me be proud of you?”
“I’m not done,” she said.
“But you are. You learned all of the prayers and your Torah portion. You don’t have to practice daily anymore. Three times a week will be more than enough for the next few months.”
But she stomped off to get a snack.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I still have to work on that thing,” she replied.
“What thing?” I asked.
“That thing I have to say,” she replied disdainfully.
“Your D’var Torah? That’s not a big deal. It’s a couple of minutes long. Rabbi Jack will work with you on that, and Rabbi Stacey will help.”
“It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be a lot of work.”
“And you will get it done, just like everything else. It’s short, no more than a couple of minutes long. You’re going to get it done.”
Isabelle made a face at me, grabbed herself a snack, and sat down at the table. Her reaction made me realize that even though I thought she had reached the finish line, she doesn’t see herself as there yet. Close, but not on the mat like the contestants on “The Amazing Race.” Perhaps, once she crafts her D’var Torah, she’ll feel finished. Or maybe it’ll be at the end of the service when we wrap up by singing “Hatikvah.” Only time will tell. But in the meantime, I AM SO PROUD OF MY DAUGHTER!