the schmooze
Is it more than "Tot Shabbat" or Gymboree?
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

*The Yiddish word for quality is "kvalitet"

The late Leo Buscaglia, also known as "Dr. Hug" (1924-1998), was the bearded, teddy bear-like apostle of love.  He customarily ended his motivational speeches by giving everyone in the audience a hug.  The Yiddish word meaning "to hug" is "haldzn."  PBS used his taped lectures during fund-raising drives.

Buscaglia wrote, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment ("kompliment") or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."

In Buscaglia's book, "Bus 9 To Paradise," he writes, "Men are realizing that they have a responsibility to provide for their children, not only in material ways, but in emotional ways as well...Even fathers who are unable to spend as much time as they would like with their children are finding that the amount of time is not nearly as important as the QUALITY of time they share."

USA Today interviewed and quoted working parents who feel that inadequate quality time with children could be replaced with lavish gifts.  "Kalyeh!" (Wrong!)  "Zaideh" and "Bobbeh" (grandparents) who were interviewed felt that sending outrageously "tayer" (expensive) gifts to their grandchildren could compensate for long-distance visits "Der takhlis"?  (The result?):  Children become materialistic when adults give the message that love can be bought.

Allan Gelfond, a father of three who has been involved in the Jewish communal services for almost "fuftsik" (50) years, notes that many fathers are more "aktiv" (active) in parenting than in previous generations.  If the family is economically well-off, he noted, then dad goes on more family vacations than years ago.  "Here the father is part of the family, traveling together and spending quality time together."

When I grew up in Rockaway Beach, NY, it hardly took any effort for my mother to spend time with my two brothers and myself.  Mom was a homemaker; she never worked outside the home.   There was no Gymboree or playgroups.  No "Tot Shabbot" No "Jewish Potter" workshops, where the family made Shabbat candle sticks, Kiddush cups, and other items.  We ate dinner together as a family every night, and on Sunday morning, my father drove his Nash Rambler to Toddy's appetizing store and brought home bagels, "geraykherte fish" (smoked fish) "gehakte leber" (chopped liver), "gehakte hering" (chopped herring," etc.  Uncle Harry, who resided with us, joined the family for a big "frishtik" (breakfast).  Our meals were not "catch-as- catch-can."

Linda Sunshine, author of more than 50 books, wrote that her childhood was greatly affected by the fact that she was born long before the invention of quality time.  She wrote,

"Back then, mothers and fathers spent huge quantities of time with their offsprings.  Call it ignorance.  'Who knew about this quality-time business?'  My mother will often ask, 'In our day, quality time meant you had food in the refrigerator, the rent was paid for the next month, and no one at the dinner table was getting sued or recovering from surgery."

She continues--and I think her for this contribution--"My parents are not the only people who are confused by the concept of quality time.  Many books have been written on the subject in the hopes of explaining to modern parents the damage they can inflict on their children by not allocating time into quality increments."

Linda Sunshine then adds two humorous paragraphs;

"Then again, how much Quality Time would you really want to spend with a family who had a bona fide psychotic cousin Leonard.  (The writer says, "Er hot modneh drochim."  He has strange ways.) 

Ms. Sunshine said that Uncle Morris sat at the family seder with his automatic rifle, which scared the living daylights out of Great-Grandma Nettie, who was from the old country and didn't know from such technology.  'Nettie made Leonard leave the gun on the seat for Elijah, wrapped in plastic, naturally, because it was so greasy!'"

And, finally, Dr. Robert Bloom, who was the executive director of Jewish Child and Family Services, said, "I believe that life is about the little things.  One of the things that enrages me is when divorcing couples say they'll spend 'quality time' with their child.  Quality time with a child is when you're walking along and you see something in nature, and stop and say, 'Look at that!'  It's opportunistic.  How do you plan quality time?  The real value and joy in life comes from the little things and being able to do those."

Marjorie G. Wolfe agrees with this statement:  "A real family man is one who
looks at his new child as an addition rather
than a deduction."


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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