Seders and young children - a question

Avatar for kfira71
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Seders and young children - a question
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Tue, 04-08-2003 - 1:41pm
I lurk here sometimes (and have de-lurked once or twice ;o)), and I now have a question about young children and seders. My DS is 18 months old, so he basically slept through last year's seders. This year, though, he'll definitely be more aware of his older cousins (a 3.5 year old, a 4.5 year old, and a 5.5 year old). Though we enjoyed seeing the family last year, my DH was a little taken aback at the fact that the little ones were basically allowed to run around the room as though it were a playground throughout the entire seder. Now, understand, they were all a year younger, and I think it's a lot to expect that they'll sit quietly throughout the 3 hour meal. There were "quiet" activities put out for them (coloring, books), but they were really just wild most of the time.

So, now this year's seder approaches (we only do the first night with the whole family - about 30 people or so), and I know my DS will likely want to chase the older ones wherever they go. What do you think is reasonable to expect from children during this holiday? My aunt was talking about setting up a video for them in a corner (we rent a room in a catering hall, since we're such a big group). I offered to bring my tape of The Prince of Egypt, to at least be in keeping with the holiday. But she laughed and said it would more likely be a Rescue Rangers tape they'd watch. I know I'm being idealistic, but I'd really like the holiday to actually have some sort of meaning for my son (though he's obviously too young now to understand any of it). I would never tell our cousins how or when to discipline their children - I don't feel it's my place. But, I am wondering how to keep my little guy from getting too out of hand, without it seeming like a punishment, or taking the fun out of the holiday.

Sorry this got so long! I'd love to hear thoughts from BTDT moms!

Thanks!

~Kim

~Kim

"Becoming a parent means agreeing to allow your heart to go walking around outside of your body."

Avatar for cl_janetlh
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Registered: 03-19-2003
Tue, 04-08-2003 - 5:05pm
Hi, Kim! Great question. My family does expect the children to sit at the table for our 3+ hours seder, but there were never more than 3 young children at a time (including my twins). I think it's hard if there are a number of cousins who are allowed to watch TV or run around. I can see how it would be hard to expect your young son to behave differently. I'll let you know how we handle it, though. Our seder is generally about an hour before dinner, and 45 minutes after dinner.

When the kids were toddlers, I would put a few sliced bananas or another small snack in front of them to munch on before the dinner part of the seder. It doesn't take too long to get to the matzah and other b'rachot over food, so that they were busy with that, and everyone is talking while the food is being passed out for the b'rachah. Dayenu is before dinner, so that's always boisterous, too! The 10 plagues, explaining the symbols (which I do in English) is also before dinner, so I would try to keep them interested by explaining at their level as well as the reading from the Haggadah. They always had books at the table also, but were expected to stay at the table. After they finished dinner, they can get up and move around, look for the afikoman, etc. Then, we return to the table, and they are expected to sit through the rest. Of course when they were younger, if they wanted to go to bed at any point, that was fine. Now they're 10! How time flies!

Please let us know how this works out for you. I'm curious how you'll balance your family's style with your own, and your dh's, wishes for the holiday.

Janet

Janet


Jewish Family Life

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 04-08-2003 - 6:03pm
<>

This is wonderful that it worked for you, Janet! I've been to many seders where the kids would have finished their snack in five to ten minutes and would have been squirming, or somehow annoying in other ways, way before we got to matzah.

If the family seder for 30 people is very 'tradition' bound, with a very non-kid friendly haggadah, I think the 'tradition' of a separate children's table (possibly in another room with one older reasponsible teen or whomever's willing to take it on) is appropriate. If this is done though, I would recommend the children get led in their own seder from an appropriate family, or children's oriented haggadah; I too think it being a chag that a video (unless it is Prince of Egypt or perhaps even The 10 Commandments, at least that one would keep them occupied the entire three hours, if they sit still for it, LOL) is inappropriate.

I like Uncle Eli's Haggadah for this age group, which you can access at:

http://www.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Uncle_Eli/Eli_Present.html (go to the Table of Contents on the left of the site to navigate through the Haggadah)

I know there are many other family/children haggadahs out there, and the 10 plague bags can keep younger children occupied for quite awhile.

I tend to take on the attitutde I learned at Lubavitch: the entire point of the seder is to tell the story of our redemption from Egypt to the children. If they are bored to tears, we haven't fulfilled the reason why we attended the seder to begin with. If the story can be related to the children through a different haggadah, even if it needs to be done separate from where the adults want a more formal, traditional seder, so be it.

I was brought up with this tradition, and although I didn't attend Religious School or have a Bas Mitzvah, I was 'allowed' to join the adult table when I was 12 years old. I can't describe the anticipation I had to that year's seders! Yet, I also can't describe the yearning I had once there to be able go back and join in the more frequent laughter and fun in the other room.

At 12, I was the youngest at the table, and was expecting to say manishtanah, but it was also our tradition to ask if any of the children in the other room wanted to come in to chant it. Of course, those who knew it and were 'performers' would jump at the chance (I was one from a very early age). The kids would get a quick snuggle from Mom and Dad while the questions were answered from the adult haggadah, and then they would go back to their table. Occasional giggles and squirmishes were heard, but generally it was under control.

This worked for us, and I have fond memories of it. :-)

Pam

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Avatar for cl_janetlh
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Registered: 03-19-2003
Tue, 04-08-2003 - 9:06pm
Wonderful memories, Pam, and great suggestions! In my family growing up, there were only 3 children, and I was the youngest. I had no 1st cousins, and we didn't get together with more extended family, just my family, my uncle and my grandparents. So, it was mostly me that had to sit still, and I was a little angel :-) I have 2 older brothers, who are 6 and 9 years older than me.

Those of you with really big seders of 30 with enough kids for a separate kid activity - wow! How wonderful!

I'm lucky that Sam and Rachel are well-behaved kids. Snacks, books, and making faces at their older cousins was enough to keep them occupied. They're now 10, and I expect them to behave! We do an "adult" seder, but what I've changed from when I was growing up is that (now that I'm leading) we don't do it all in Hebrew. This gives more chance for discussion and telling the story, which to me is the whole point of the holiday, for both the children and the adults. I love the memories I have of singing at the seder table, but not of reading the English while someone read the Hebrew. I got bored and there was no discussion. I've also brought in some more conemporary readings from a family hagaddah S&R received from Hebrew school last year. We still do all the songs in Hebrew, as well as Birkat Hamazon (grace after meals).

gotta go for now...

Janet

Janet


Jewish Family Life

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 12:10am
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Ah...

In case you want to add some more songs to the seder, these are a little more, uhm, 'lighthearted'. ;-)

http://www.juda.com/pesach-songs.shtml

Pam

"Stressed is desserts spelled backwards!"

Visit our homepage and please sign the guestbook:

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/5214

E PLURIBUS UNUM


Eventually

Peace Love Unity and Respect Inevitably Blossom

in the Understanding Spirit:

Universal Nexus Underlying the Matrix

A Dh original!

Meddle ye not in the affairs of Dragons, for thou art crunchy and wouldst taste good with ketchup.

Avatar for outside_the_box_mom
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Sun, 04-13-2003 - 5:25pm
We basically stopped going to people's houses. Our son couldn't handle the crowd or being quiet for so long. We had some real nightmare Seders, too, where he melted down before the dinner was served. (Just remembering makes me shudder.) This year we've been invited to the Rabbi's. Our son is now 5 1/2 and can sit still, finally. Plus he knows the four questions and what the Seder is all about. We're doing a quiet at-home Seder Wednesday night with our special Haggadah just for our DS. Then Thursday is the Seder at the Rabbi's. I'm actually looking forward to it for the first time in five years.

outside_the_box_mom

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 04-13-2003 - 10:09pm
Make sure everyone takes a BIG nap Thursday afternoon! It REALLY helps. ~ Chaya