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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Glad I kept my mouth shut!

I'm told that many fathers become hyper-observant of their daughter's habits when they (their daughters, that is) become 13 or 14.  We start looking for tell-tale signs of our little girl's interest in the opposite sex... and any sign of 'grappling hooks being tossed over the wall' by the local boys in the community.

That transition from 'little girl' to 'young woman' happens amazingly fast...nearly overnight, it seems!  And once a father notices a boy looking overly long in his daughter's direction, or worse, his daughter looking back... well, sleep becomes a fleeting, restless thing. 

The only person who might be able to understand the unsettled feeling that comes over fathers at this stage of life would be the owner of a shiny new Ferrari who is forced to park it on the street every night in a sketchy neighborhood.  The Ferrari itself is as blameless as it is beautiful.  But the world seems suddenly and unusually full of reckless drivers, vandals and thieves.

So it was with some disquiet [understatement alert] that I recently noticed that Ariella had taken up crocheting. 

For those who aren't from the 'Dati Leumi' crowd, a young girl acquiring that skill can indicate only one thing.  Young girls in our world don't crochet lace hankies or coasters to put under cold drinks.  No, they crochet kippot (yarmulkes)... and those kippot are intended for BOYS!

Even more troubling, instead of asking me to show her how to crochet... she'd asked my wife, Zahava!

[side note: Yes folks, I've known how to crochet since university.  In fact, a regular reader/commenter on this blog and her roommate (back when the three of us were students at Hebrew University) can take credit for having taught me how to crochet.  I had apparently gotten one too many terribly crocheted pastel-colored kippot from girls I was dating, and decided that enough was enough.  If I wanted a kippah that was a specific color, size or shape... I needed to learn to do it myself!]

Anyway, the fact that Ariella had sought out her mother to teach her how to crochet (even though I was equally available to teach her), did not bode well.  I smelled a boy. 

Ariella even came to me on a couple of occasions to show me the progress she was making on her first kippah and went through the motions of asking advice.  But I knew she was simply trying to see if she could get me to become a typical overbearing father full of intrusive questions.

But I didn't say a word.  I just smiled and complimented her on her work. 

Each day I watched as the kippah got bigger and the 'dugma' (pattern) began taking shape, but I kept my mouth shut.   However, I admit to taking special pains to see who was watching Ari when she was hanging around in the crowd of young people at synagogue after Shabbat services.

Finally, this past week I noticed that she'd finished working on the kippah... but it was nowhere to be seen.  She'd given it to someone!  It had been far to small for me (my kippot tend to be somewhat bigger due to my, ahem, receding hairline), but I also didn't see any boys in the community walking around wearing that dark blue kippah with the band of green design around the edge... and let me tell you, I looked!

Then on Friday night when we got home from synagogue and it was time to bless the children, I took Gilad's bowed head between my hands and began reciting "May you be blessed like Ephraim and Menasheh...".  But when I opened my eyes, I found myself staring down at the dark blue kippah Ariella had crocheted... sitting proudly on her brother's head.

Boy am I glad I kept my mouth shut! 

Posted by David Bogner on October 12, 2008 | Permalink


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not to worry you, but we girls often give our brothers our first attempt, the one we learned on so that "the boy" gets one with no beginner mistakes....its the second kippa you want to watch for :-)

Posted by: G | Oct 12, 2008 2:38:49 PM

I usually only lurk here but I SO agree with G I have to post. As a veteran kipah crocheter (I learned at Ramah at around 13) I can second that opinion. Brothers and fathers get the kipot you make while you are learning..the "good" ones go to the boys!

Posted by: Tovah | Oct 12, 2008 2:57:55 PM

Ummm, Trep?

I'm not a girl, nor did I grow up observant. But, it only took me about six seconds to realize that this was the "test kippah".

Watch her closely. Very closely.

Posted by: dfb1968 | Oct 12, 2008 3:15:53 PM

Trep, before I saw the previous two comments, I was going chime in with "Life is full of opportunities where the best and most difficult response is to to say (or do) nothing." Especially in light of the above comments, the adage becomes even more pertinent. Now that my own not-so-little girl is probably on the same brink, it sure would be nice if I can keep this in mind and my own mouth shut.

Posted by: Tzvi | Oct 12, 2008 3:21:32 PM

From the perspective of a mother of only boys, I think you got about three years' more sleep than you deserved. More time to plot the Soap Wars strategies, I guess. May Hashem bless you and keep you. May He watch over you (and yours), and give you peace. [Sweet, treacly smile.]

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Oct 12, 2008 3:23:29 PM

mouth shut, perhaps, but let's ask zahava how subtle you really were! and while i agree in principle with the previous posters, my husband was the recipient of some of my first kippot - back when they came out looking more like thimbles, and dh and i were "just friends". basically, there will be no rest for you until you are dancing at ariella's wedding (t'fuu, t'fuu).

and thanks for the side note! dh wears an ever enlarging kippah srugah, but of my four boys, only the eldest is a regular kippah srugah wearer. one is still in the cutesy decorated leather stage, one prefers the bukharian style and one - if you can believe it - goes for black velvet. dh and eldest son have to content themselves with visits to the kippah man when we are in Israel to stock up. it's been a looooong time since i held a crochet hook - how about you?

Posted by: Debbie | Oct 12, 2008 3:23:29 PM

Smirk [I don't know how to make that emoticon]

Posted by: Sara K | Oct 12, 2008 3:28:43 PM

We almost had to clean up a coffee induced Danny Thomas spit-take here as I was reading this, I was laughing so hard. I add my 2 shekels to the others who have advised you on the "first kippot are for practice". I started in high school, but it was a good few months before any of mine were boy worthy. Meanwhile, please tell Ari that the next time you are here, or I am there, I have a whole basket of DMC#8 in a rainbow of colors that I would love to give to a lovely young lady. At my age (a year older as of yesterday) DMC#8 is a lot smaller to work with than it used to be. Meanwhile, I pity ANY boy who tries to enter Chez Trep to see Ari. No doubt the unsuspecting, fine upstanding young man will have to endure an interrogation that even an El-Al security agent would be hard pressed to duplicate!("Did you dress yourself"? "Are you carrying anything that could be used as a weapon"?)

Posted by: Marsha in Englewood | Oct 12, 2008 5:15:14 PM

my very very first kippah went to my father. it was horrible, alternatively wavy and flat and full of dropped stitches. however, he was so proud of my handiwork that he actually wore it -- out in public (the horror!) at least until i got better and gave him a more professional looking headcovering. thinking back, that was a really cool dad thing to do. my husband and son wear black suede and so, my hooks are retired... until such time as my daughters reach that stage.

Posted by: nikki | Oct 12, 2008 5:16:05 PM

And the fancier the pattern the closer you need to watch!!

Posted by: Tovah | Oct 12, 2008 6:37:31 PM

Great story. Pity we didn't get a photo of the kippah.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Oct 12, 2008 8:02:18 PM

But I knew she was simply trying to see if she could get me to become a typical overbearing father full of intrusive questions.

What do you mean trying. Sounds to me like she did. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Oct 12, 2008 8:30:02 PM

Baruch ata... shelo assah hayeladim sheli banot!

I know I would drive myself crazy if I didn't have all boys... I am nervous enough when they go on weekend trips.

Hang in there...

Posted by: Ben-David | Oct 12, 2008 8:46:14 PM

Wow, I wish I knew how to crochet a kippah! I still can't find one I like, which is why I mainly stick with the suede black ones.

Anyway, my girls are now 3 and 5. I have a few more years before I have to start looking at boys as competitors.

Posted by: JDMDad | Oct 12, 2008 8:48:40 PM

DUH, DUH, AND DUH, AGAIN!!!! Of course you get the test kippah. And you may (if you're very lucky) get a few test kippot. But overall you are right.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

(I have three daughters. G-d help us all.)

Posted by: Baila | Oct 13, 2008 1:07:41 AM

Hee hee hee. Sitting here with a big smile on my face. Until a few moments ago, I never thought of crocheting as a social skill.

None of my kippot are test runs. But that does not mean I am anyone's likely candidate, alas - unless the internet is actually a person; standardly I get mine from that 'source'.

Posted by: The Back of the Hill | Oct 13, 2008 1:59:56 AM

Mazal tov to Ari on the new skill.

Which reminds me--how did the spindle spinning go?

Posted by: uberimma | Oct 13, 2008 2:55:33 AM

Boy...does this bring me back quite a few years...I remember the first ones I made..they were more like pancakes...for my adopted "brothers". My dh never thought they were big enough for him. Then my eldest daughter used to make them...and sell them...her DH also didn't appreciate them...now the only one who wear the sruggies are her 8 1/2 year old (he looks like a sabra kid..but lives in Baltimore) ...and neither of us know where our crochet hooks are anymore!!

Posted by: BubbyT | Oct 13, 2008 3:48:01 AM

So, "keeping one's mouth shut" does not include blogging?

Posted by: Yisrael medad | Oct 13, 2008 11:32:46 AM

As a mother of boys, I have had other "boy, they are growing up fast" moments. Like the time only recently we went shoe shopping and I realized that my "baby" wears the same size as I do....and he is only 12!

Posted by: westbankmama | Oct 13, 2008 3:39:03 PM

I was going to say "what a good sister!" until I read the comments. Hee!

Posted by: Tanya | Oct 13, 2008 5:06:37 PM

You think it's over? It ain't over. Naw, it's just beginning.

(Mine are 26 and 29, so I have walked that same "Derekh shel Agita Me'Od.")

Posted by: Elisson | Oct 13, 2008 7:43:01 PM

You have more discipline than I. The thoughts of those days long ago, still wear me out. :) Be blessed.

Posted by: Tim | Oct 14, 2008 1:01:28 AM

To calm a father's tortured heart: Many young people are still more innocent or decent than adults think. Some may talk large, especially the boys, but usually, their "experience" is imaginary. To my surprise, that has not changed since my teenage years, at least not among the young people I know. ("To my surprise" because at least in public, the society I live in has become very sexed up.)

P.S.: One of the best things my parents gave me was sending me to martial arts classes. As they told me later, they had been aware that they could probably not save their daughter from a broken heart, but wanted her to have the means to underline a "no" whenever someone should insist to get more than she was willing to give. Years later, that power to underline came handy. The guy, tall, beefy and twice my weight, spent two weeks at the surgical ward.

Posted by: reader | Oct 14, 2008 1:17:18 AM

its gonna be a fun couple of years...

Posted by: weese | Oct 14, 2008 7:05:19 PM

So, my daughter recently announced that she wants to learn how to knit kippot. I was thrilled when she told me that her friends from school are going to teach her how.

Naively, I saw a great new source of kippot for my husband, son, father, brother, nephews...

It never occured to me that this could herald a new era!

I know that I can't stop the tide, but now I'm a little more anxious about her riding the waves!

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Oct 19, 2008 12:04:53 AM

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