Category Archives: Boys Will Be Boys

Anecdotes and stories from mothers of boys

Feed the Birds While They Fly

This post is so long overdue – I’ve been planning it since last Chol Hamoed!

If you haven’t been to the New York Aquarium recently, it’s worth a trip.  There was much damage from hurricane Sandy, so many exhibits are closed, but the sea lion show is so fantastic that it makes the trip worthwhile.  In fact, when we were there on Succos, we watched the show twice.

Of course, no trip to Coney Island is complete without a stroll along the boardwalk, and a detour to the beach.  One of the boys threw a crumb to a sea gull, and soon there were hordes of the white birds hovering around, clamoring for more.

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Diggerland USA

I had seen the ads for Diggerland several times.  The originality of the tractor theme appealed to me, but there were too many reasons not to go: I prefer to take my children to somewhere that is at least marginally educational, even if the extent of the education is to see a new corner of Hashem’s universe,  Diggerland is relatively expensive, and besides, it’s far.

So why did we finally go? Maybe it was the fact that our Pesach guests brought four more boys under age ten into the house – I knew we had to go somewhere that would be boy-heaven!  The fact that they had come from Israel also helped me look away from the high cost, as our guests wanted to experience America as fully as possible.

So, what’s the dig on Diggerland?  It was absolutely fantabulous!  Everyone had a grand time, from age 4 to 44!

What did we like?

1. You can see almost the whole place from just about anywhere.

During the first few minutes, I tried hard to keep everyone at my side, so I could keep track of where everyone was.  But after a while, I realized that due to brilliant planning, it really wasn’t necessary.  You can see almost the whole park from any spot, and it’s pretty easy to find your kids when you need them.  The rides in the center are adjacent to each other, take up less space and cutting down on the places where a person can get lost.  Also, all the rides in the middle are low to the ground, so nothing blocks your view.  The  taller rides are around the perimeter of the park.  There is just one ride that is entirely on the other side…not too bad for a theme park.

Of course, you can always ride the Sky Shuttle up into the sky for the best view!

2. There’s so much to do!  Tractors, tractors everywhere!

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Of Guns and Pluffers

Here’s the thing with boys and Purim. They will get dressed up as ANYTHING, so long as they get to have a gun or a sword, preferably both!

A few weeks ago, my son was playing with a little girl his age.  The toy he chose was a medium-sized box of Gears. To be clear, this is not a building toy, but rather a sort of puzzle where you connect flat boards and then build a chain of gears upon them that you can control with a small handle.

I heard my son say, “Let’s make a gun.”

The girl groaned. “No.”

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Preparing Your Son for his Bar Mitzvah

As appeared in Hamodia Simcha Supplement

Preparing Your Son for His Bar Mitzvah

By Beily Paluch


In our family, we joke that we should prepare all our boys for their bar mitzvahs at once. We should book the hall, print the invitations, and order the tefillin and tefillin bags. Unlike a wedding, where both the identity of the other side as well as the date are unknown until the engagement, a bar mitzvah falls predictably on a boy’s thirteenth birthday. So whatever age your son is, you can start getting ready!

For example, starting at birth, keep track of his age. Libby’s son Dovy’s bar mitzvah was approaching, and she sent out beautiful invitations. Then she met an acquaintance in the supermarket, and she shared the news of the upcoming simchah. “Your son is not turning thirteen, Libby, he’s turning twelve,” said the woman. “Don’t you remember we were together in Eim Vayeled? My Yossy’s birthday is also coming up, and he’s going to be twelve!”

Libby did the math, and realized the woman was right.

How did it happen? Libby’s precocious son was skipped a grade at a young age and, at some point, they forgot that he was younger than the rest of the class. When everyone signed up for bar mitzvah lessons, Dovy signed up as well. Libby also booked a hall at the same time as everyone else in the class, and from there it was a short route to “oops.”

But of course your son is really turning thirteen soon, so let’s get started!

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Binyan Blocks

When my older children were small, we spent hours playing with Fisher Price sets. I used to imagine that I would one day partner with that company to create a Shul set, complete with Tatty and boy figures, Torahs, and a backyard sukkah with a crank-up roof.

So when I saw the Binyan Blocks ad with the shul AND the sukkah, I knew this was a company after my own heart.  Those boys are grown up now, but their younger brothers were very willing to indulge my fantasy and become the proud owners of a few sets of Binyan Blocks.

Even though it was a school night, actually  a whole week of school nights, everyone managed to make time for Binyan Blocks.  Homework?  Two minutes.  Put away my briefcase, coat and shoes? Done.  Can we build now?

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Floyd Bennett Field – A Gem Close to Home

For years, our Chol Hamoed motto was “an extra half hour in the car to save two hours on line,” and we traveled far and wide in every direction from NYC.  We did Mystic Seaport and Norwalk, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Scranton, and NJ from North to South and East to West. Then Itty was born.  Itty got nauseas in the carriage when I drove it over pebbly concrete as a newborn.  She threw up in a car ride to my niece’s graduation, and again when I headed out by car to thirteenth avenue to run some errands. Since then, we go where we can  get with a carriage.

Occasionally, we prepare for the inevitable (bags, towels, bibs, wipes, air freshener, change of clothing), and head out for the closest attraction we can get away with, while still satisfying the older children’s craving for excitement.  To our surprise, we’ve found an inordinate number of things to do rather close to home, and they were not nearly as crowded, even on Chol Hamoed, as I had expected.

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Magen Tzitzit – Tzitzis Shield

One of the perks of having written Boy Oh Boy! is that friends are quick to share new boy-related products with me.  So when my husband pulled a small box labeled ‘Magen Tzitzit’ from his suitcase, I knew what it was.  It was the thingamajig a friend had shown me during the summer, and it was meant to keep the tzitzis strings from tangling in the wash. Her endorsement, though, had  been a bit lukewarm…still, I refrained from sighing, “I hope you didn’t spend too much on that!” and instead pretended to be suitably impressed.

And I’m glad I did!  Just a few days later, a neighbor raved to me about the Magen Tzitzit, saying it was amazing and she had just ordered more, so I decided to be a sport and try it.  And what do you know? It worked like a charm!  You wind the tzitzis around a spiral piece, snap on a protective cover, and throw it into the machine.  When you’re done, the strings are neat and tangle-free, a boy mom’s dream come true!

So of course, I need some more…

You Can Fool Some of the Boys Some of the Time

My friend Shana had a baby, one more in a long line of boys.  What could I do to help? I’m usually game to send a supper, or just cake or kugel, but Shana is a WAY bigger balabuste than I am, and I knew her freezer was stacked with everything she needed for Yom  Tov, prepared way in advance.  My nearly-perfect-if-you-only-look-from-this-side bundt would just become a logistical problem for her as she would need to find a place to put it.

So instead, I called to offer to take some of her boys out a bit, as they’re the same ages as my own boys, and we’re the nutty family who goes on trips the day before Yom Tov.  To my surprise, she didn’t jump at the offer.

“They’re way too busy.  All my boys are busy helping.  I promised them that whoever does their jobs will be allowed to wash the floor!”

Really now! You see what I mean…In a house where the kids do chores for the privilege of doing other chores, they don’t need my potato kugel.

So you can fool some of the boys some of the time.

Actually, I’ve been playing the same game in my sukkah for years.  You know how it is in a sukkah, not enough chairs, fitting a crowd miraculously into a small space.  Once, many years ago, to accommodate an overflow crowd, we brought in a small bar stool as an extra seat.  Anticipating frowns from the kids, we ceremoniously plunked the stool near my husband and dubbed it The Ushpizen Chair, reserving it exclusively for the child whose Ushpizen falls on that day.  (With a little creativity, every boy is assigned an Ushpizen…Yisroel works for Yaakov, Pinchas (the Kohein) gets Aharon’s Ushpizen, and Shlomo gets Shemini Atzeres).  Even in our much larger sukkah, it remains the most coveted chair until this very day.

Believe it or not, another friend gets her kids to eat their vegetables by declaring them ‘Mommy’s special diet food’, and no one can have any until they’ve finished their own meal!

I’ve been wondering if I can apply the ‘Ushpizen Chair Effect’ anywhere else in my life…and of course, if you’ve been fooling some of the boys some of the time, I’d love to hear about it!