Guest blogger Rabbi Sherre Hirsch: Last Sunday morning when I woke up, I was dreading my own son's birthday party.
Don't get me wrong -- I was thrilled that he was turning six and actually wanted to invite the entire class to his party. But the reality of hosting 25 six-year-olds for an afternoon of arcade, pizza, ice cream and miniature golf in the blazing valley sun was not exactly my type of "spa day." Regardless, I had no choice.
Of course, by one o'clock in the afternoon, the 25 boys and girls were waiting with anticipation as the woman in charge of golf clubs was taking her times to collect the necessary equipment. I needed to stall or else I would have rebellion on my hands. Two kids were already dipping their toes in the man-made lake.
I was panicked. What would entertain these little "bundles of joy"? My thoughts were immediately interrupted when our son Emet jumped on the picnic table. In a loud voice projecting over the parents and kids, our son began to welcome everyone to his party. He went around one by one introducing each child and how he knew them -- from preschool, grammar school, Hebrew school. He introduced everyone ... adults, siblings, even us, his parents.
I could not believe my eyes and ears. Our son only wanted four people to come to his last birthday party. He is not exactly Mr. Social. Except on this day, he surprised even us. He was the consummate host. Graciously accepting gifts, saying thank you, giving others a turn before him. I was shocked. Where did he learn this?
That night as we were saying prayers. I told Emet how proud I was to be his mother.
There are things my husband and I model for our kids very consciously, saying "please" and "thank you." But there are things that we model for them without even thinking about it, i.e. wearing on the phone, which of course I have never done!
But here was a situation in which we had unconsciously inculcated our values of the importance of welcoming guests and the importance of including each person and making them feel special. We host a lot -- and with three kids we rarely take the time to tell our children what you should do when having company over. Yet they have been watching closely. They have learned from us not by our words but by our actions.
That night, as my husband I collapsed into bed, we were not only proud of Emet, but we were proud of ourselves. At least for one day, we did good.