I love witnessing the changes in my children as we get together with family to celebrate special occasions and holidays. It is Passover, and last year during Passover I could not wait to get out of my mother-in-law’s house and leave the Seder. I was anxious and I made us leave quite early because I felt like it was absolute chaos with my kids at the dinner table.
This year our Seder was relatively incident-free. But before the Seder even started, Georgia went around stealing the hardboiled eggs off of everyone’s Seder plates. She must have had at least 6 or 7 hard-boiled eggs before the night was over. We cut her off at one point so we wouldn’t run out of eggs. Plus we worried about her cholesterol.
The highlight of the evening was during a particularly quiet moment, just before my father-in-law was about to say something important as he lead us in the readings and prayer, Georgia suddenly returned from the bathroom to announce, “Hey Everybody! I went poop!” (I must have been the eggs). I turned five shades of red and everyone was cracking up with laughter. Her Uncle Henry told her that now she will forever be reminded of her major announcement at Passover from here on out.
We decided that we wanted to keep Passover this year by removing foods that cannot be eaten during this Jewish holiday according to the laws of the Torah. We went through our cupboards and refrigerator and cleared out all the products that aren’t Kosher for Passover. It was a bigger process than I had imagined because it turns out that the list of forbidden foods is really longer than I thought it would be. It also ended up including some items that I didn’t expect (like mustard). Some examples of things that we had to clear out: bread, crackers, pancake mix, waffles, pirate booty, popcorn, pasta, mac and cheese, peanuts, beans, soy products, etc. In other words, all the things that my kids love to eat.
I knew my girls had their favorite foods but I didn’t think they would miss them this much. Just this morning Georgia woke up to say to me, “I want waffles, I want a cold pancake” (she likes to eat them frozen). I told her, “No, we don’t have those foods right now, it’s Passover” “How about a Matzo cracker with butter?” I asked her. She replied to me by throwing a tantrum.
I believe in being a healthy role model to my children by eating healthy foods and offering them healthy choices. I’ve mentioned that I am not comfortable serving them fast food and other things, but I think I’ve been in denial about how much they are hooked on some of the items we have let go of this week. So it seems as though we are experiencing a lot more meltdowns around them not getting to eat what they want to. Olivia misses her noodles and cheese tremendously and we opted not to substitute regular noodles for Passover noodles (egg noodles). I kid you not, but I also caught Georgia munching on the dog’s food.
I must say I’ve gotten creative and I’ve been doing my best cooking up alternatives to regular versions of some foods. Instead of making a peanut butter and jelly on bread, Olivia took almond butter and jelly on Matzo to school. We also made Matzo pizza, which I thought they would love but they didn’t.
The kids went to bed without dinner the other night because they refused to eat what I had made and we have always said that we are not short order cooks over here (they have no idea what that means, so we usually say “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset”). That being said I still worried that they were starving. My husband reminded me that they would eat when they are hungry enough. He has been right. Georgia was seen today eating strawberries wrapped inside a slice of turkey (she made that up herself). I thought their lunch plate looked like a little kid’s version of the Atkins diet.
It has been challenging putting up with a few more tears than usual. I have felt at times that I haven’t completely known what to do. At one point I resorted to playing dead. Seriously. When both girls were coming at me with their whining, I laid down on the living room floor, closed my eyes, and pretended to be dead. It worked because they stopped whining bent down next to me and said “Mommy? Mommy! Wake up”. Ah, a momentary exodus.
We are doing our best to hold to our traditions and at the same time enjoy the holiday. I’m trying to help the children see that there are so many things we can eat and enjoy rather than focus on what we can’t have right now. The whole point of the holiday is to remember where we come from and to be grateful for our freedom. Not to focus on what we can’t have.
I am pretty sure that once Passover ends Tuesday night that the girls will be happy to have some old favorites back. I know that this has been a great learning experience for me in many ways, not to mention a lesson about how much stuff my kids can actually do without. It seems like I am always trying to get my kids to eat healthier by trying new vegetables and eating fruit but I never thought I could do it by keeping Passover. Now I am really going to have to resist the temptation to lie to them weeks from now by saying, “Sorry guys, you can’t have that it’s still Passover”.
Happy Passover! Happy Easter! Happy Spring!