Booster Seats and Car Seats

Parshas Vayechi 

graco.jpgHave you ever wondered what the secret to successful child-raising is?

As we were driving back up north, from spending a lovely week vacationing in Santa Barbara with my mother in law, I noticed something about the seating arrangement in the car.

We were each siting in a different type of seat!

My two month old baby was sitting in an infant rear-facing car seat. My male two year old toddler was in a typical child forward-facing car seat. My four year old girl was in a car seat that doubles as a booster seat and my six year old girl was in a booster seat sans the back.

What a schlep! (Which made me realize that the car manufacturer that will invent a method of having seat belts built into the car, that can transform into all the various child car seat configurations without having to schlep actual car seats in and out of the car… will make a lot of money)

Of course my wife was in a regular adult seat, and I was in the driver seat, with all the things needed for that position, like a stirring wheel and window buttons.

How ironic is it that six people could be sitting in the same car, going to the same destination and yet each one has a different kind of seat. Obviously, it is because each child in the car had different needs and therefore has a seat tailored to their specific personal stage in life.

It wouldn’t be helpful for the baby to be placed in a booster seat and it wouldn’t be helpful for an adult to be put in a booster seat.

Indeed, some children need that extra protection, others just need a boost, and still others need to feel that they are in the driver’s seat… and there are many other differences.

In this week’s portion of Vayechi we read about Yaakov meeting with his children at the end of his life. As his twelve sons gather around his deathbed, he goes on to bless each one individually with a different blessing.

Yaakov’s grandfather Avraham, only had one ‘blessing’ to give when he passed on; Yitschak only had one ‘blessing’ to share when he passed away. It is not surprising that they each had a son that went ‘off’ the path, and was disenfranchised. This is because although they each had two sons who were very different; there was only one ‘blessing’ or message coming from their father. You either conform, or you leave.

Yaakov was unique in that all twelve of his sons remained part of the Jewish story. True, some of them made mistakes, but they all remained united as part of the family. They are each an ancestor of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. (As opposed to Eisov and Yishmael who went on to beget other nations).

Yaakov understood that the secret of keeping each child inspired as an individual, and inspired to continue being part of the family story; is by appreciating the individuality of each child. Yaakov tailor made a blessing for each child according to their needs and personality.

Of course there are values that the Torah intends that we should pass on to all of our children, no matter what their personality or individuality. But there are aspects of our children’s life that we should be customizing to the uniqueness of each child.

Let us take the courage, to find the way to get through to each of our children, according to their individual needs and uniqueness (and by extension to all people that we have a relationship with); and may we be blessed to see Yidishe Nachas from all of our offspring.

Shabbat Shalom