It goes without saying that my children are geniuses. What kind of Jewish mother would I be if I didn’t brag about the musical instruments (violin, guitar, pots and pans in perfect rhythm,) the far above-average reading levels (the boy has finished all the Harry Potters with a little help from his daddy, the girl can write her name) and the random artistic creations (the boy has written comic books, the girl builds bizarre multimedia installations using Disney princesses, confetti and pine cones.)
But when it comes to encouraging a child’s natural curiosity, I think we may have to bring the reins in:
Boy: Dad, can I use the computer?
El Yenta Man: Why?
Boy: Is the printer hooked up?
El Yenta Man: Why, Abraham?
Boy: Because I want to download the German language.
El Yenta Man: Um, how many pages do you think the German language is?
Boy: Two or three?
El Yenta Man: I think it might be more than that.
Boy: Oh, I just need the common stuff. Y’know, to chat with people.
Look, I’m all about the child learning another language and he’s already driving his Hebrew school teacher meshuggah with vocabulary requests. But why does it have to be German?
We tried to make him understand that many Jews of a certain age still cringe at the sound of a German accent, and wouldn’t he like to study something like Spanish, or perhaps Mandarin? Or least something that doesn’t sound like bones being crushed in the garbage disposal, like Italian?
To her credit, his bubbie didn’t plotz over it. She just shrugged and said “It’s probably a past life thing. Let him be.”
But I think I heard my own bubbie shake up the dust in her urn when I dropped him off for school this morning he gave me a big wave and yelled “auf Wiedersehen!”