To hear them tell it, in fair Canaan, there were no chores (at all!), kids slept in (every day!) and mothers begged (yes, begged!) their children to play video games. That’s why, when friends came over, I began searching glove boxes and trunks before they’d leave, looking for small, blue-eyed Israelites trying to beat feet for the promised land.
“What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” This never seemed to help. Neither did my observation that, “You lived to tell about it, didn’t you, because I can hear you complaining from here.”
Yes, those lively Israelites could set up a squawk and a fuss at the drop of a dusty Egyptian sandal. That’s why, the year I studied the life of Moses and his hassles with grumbling tribes, I chose a Verse of the Year. “Do everything without complaining or arguing,” it said.
“Can we drop it when the year’s up?” someone, a grimy “tribesman” with a hole in the knee of his jeans, wanted to know. Which is when I fled Egypt myself for a bit, sneaking out in a departing friend’s glove box, leaving them to the mercy of their dad.
Another closely held theory on The Three was that Sunday afternoons were made for naps. If the Sabbath was made for rest, we figured, then rest we would. Unless people overhead were galloping around. Or slamming doors. Or flushing toilets. Or dropping things — repeatedly — on the hardwood floor. Directly overhead.
Sunday after Sunday, I’d lie there, wishing for rest. Longing for rest. Praying for rest while those one level up were reenacting Custer’s last stand, for all I could tell. With live horses.
At wit’s end, I laid down the law. “From now on, there are two things you can do on Sunday afternoons. You can blink, and you can breathe.” I glared at them, unblinking. They peered back, barely breathing.
It brought them no joy, the resident blinkers, when we floated one more Sabbath day theory, “Mom gets a break on Sundays.” That’s how it reads in English. But in the Hebrew, what it meant was, “So you guys are doing the dishes.”
Predictably, this sparked a flood of complaints from the erstwhile Israelites. Which may be when I promised a steady diet of quail and manna (bread and water in Hebrew) until they recovered their joy.
As the song goes, “You’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m stickin’ to it.