*This blog post is excerpted from an article I originally wrote for Grok Nation. I homeschool three “big” kids with two dogs and a toddler at home, so I’m one busy mama. The dogs are easy. Just a pat on the head and a trip to the back yard and they're good for hours. But my 3-year-old son, Gianni–let’s just say he doesn’t like being on the sidelines. I’d never been a mom who allowed much screen time. Gianni’s older siblings got to watch one movie a week at his age. But with my fourth kid, that rule was difficult to enforce.
On his eighth day of life, a newborn Jewish boy is taken to his family’s synagogue. His mother hands him to the kvatters, who place him in the Chair of Elijah for his bris. So begins the Jewish ritual of circumcision, which tradition says seals Abraham’s covenant with God as described in Genesis 17. A Muslim family teaches their sons that the Prophet Muhammad was born without a foreskin. To emulate the prophet, Muslim boys are circumcised, usually in a hospital, sometime before the age of 12. People of many cultures and religions, including Jews, Muslims, ancient Egyptians and tribal people around the world, have practiced male circumcision for centuries. No one knows for sure exactly when it started, but some historians say it may have begun as a puberty rite among Australian aboriginal tribes in 10,000 BC. Later, tribes in Northern East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula would adopt the practice. Circumcision has fallen in and out of favor throughout history, but the story of its introduction to nonreligious, Western populations is interesting. Outside of Jewish and Muslim communities, it was uncommon to routinely circumcise boys until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when doctors began promoting it as a way to prevent masturbation and some diseases.
Readers, I have bad news. There has been a terrible tragedy. You see, a few days ago, in an attempt to afford my children time to play in the fresh air and sunshine, I took them to the park. It started off well enough. We arrived to the playground with minimal whining and only one threat of disownment. Not exactly Nobel-worthy, but pretty good for us. So the kids ran and played and skinned their knees. Raymond praised himself for his cartwheeling prowess. Sophia read her book under a tree while deftly avoiding the social death that would certainly come from accepting Emma's invitation to play colonial times. And Gianni chatted up a little girl about his potty training regimen. (He gets 1 M&M for pee, 3 for poop, FYI.)
Almost exactly four years ago, on a sunny June day in a beautiful Atlantic beach town, I thought my life was ending. My son, Raymond, who was just a few weeks from his third birthday, disappeared on a crowded boardwalk. We’d just gotten off the Jolly Trolley at the boardwalk — Raymond, his two older sisters, my husband and I. For less than a minute, my husband and I took our eyes off the kids while we discussed where we wanted to eat dinner. Less than a minute. How many times have you taken your eyes off your child in a public place for a few seconds? You dig through your purse at the grocery store. You text your spouse. You crane your neck, searching for the other mom you were supposed to meet for lunch.
I hope all of you are snuggled up with someone you love!
If you met me today — if you saw the successful, suburban, mini-van driving mother of four I am now — I’m not sure you’d believe that I was once a juvenile delinquent. My mom friends that I’ve told about my past, either giggle and say, “I don’t believe you!” or they back away slowly, covering their kids’ ears and suddenly remembering a casserole they left in the oven. Come to think of it, there aren’t a lot of people in my current life who know about my, um, past. I guess this is my coming out moment. Hello. My name is Nicole, and I was once a hooligan.
Today is my birthday! Yippee! I'm not going to tell you my age, but I WILL tell you what my wonderful husband is getting me. A WHOLE DAY to myself! That's right. I'm taking my Mac Book to Starbucks, and I'll be writing, reading, or Facebooking ALL DAY! If you're a work-at-home-mom, I don't need to tell you how valuable this is. Working from home with kids around is hard, especially in the summer time when there's no school to dump them off on.