From Beer Belly to Punching Bag

Small children cannot express themselves very well, which makes physical contact all the more important

Photo: Yaakov Lederman/Flash90

Every child is unique, with his or her own character and personality. However, my three daughters are quite different and hardly even look alike. They don’t have the same taste in food, either, except for their love of sweets. One likes pasta, another insists on chicken, while the third basically eats everything and is the only one who doesn’t look undernourished in the grandparents’ opinion. Although all three girls get the same thing to eat, only Naomi manages to finish her plate, while Sarah and Racheli listlessly poke around their food when there is not pasta Bolognese or pizza.

In addition to their love for sweets, my three girlies have one thing in common, they love to play fight with me. This game has now spread to our entire lives, which is particularly noticeable during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.

I have to admit it’s my fault too, as I’ve put on quite a bit of weight during the months of national lockdown. My stomach is really fascinating to the girls, and especially to little Naomi (4), who often likes to comment, “Wow, you have such a big belly!”

Then she pats on it in admiration as if to check that it is real. Racheli (5), on the other hand, is not so gentle, she has a slightly more aggressive personality and sometimes just rushes over and starts hitting my stomach as if it were a punching bag. I understand that a punching bag (even if it’s not a “bag”) is seductive, it just invites you to hit it, but if it comes unexpectedly, even a punch from my little daughter hurts a bit. Sarah (7) doesn’t start boxing on my stomach by herself, but when she sees Naomi or Racheli having so much fun with it, she’s happy to join in, and then I have to defend myself against the three superheroes determined to save the world from the big blob.

The interior of a sukkah in the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem

Now, during the Feast of Tabernacles, we are commanded to stay in the sukkah on the balcony as if it were our apartment. So sometimes I just lie there on the folding bed and think about sacred topics, until suddenly a bunch of little girls break in on me and interrupt my meditation.

“A father who is just lying around is asking for trouble,” they likely think to themselves as they happily pounce. However, I do not put up with that and defend myself with tickle attacks. It goes on until my most proper wife comes and scolds us all: “How will this look?! What will the neighbors think when they hear you screaming like that?!”

It is good to have a voice of reason in the family. And so, exhausted we pick up the knocked-over chairs while we watch each other suspiciously to make sure someone doesn’t start another battle.

Of course, I also enjoy fighting with the girls, it’s definitely much better than talking to them about ponies or forcing them to clean up. It is also a good excuse to keep postponing my diet.

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