Friday Night’s Alright for Writing (#13) Kvelling on a Rollercoaster

Yep, the title kind of says it all about how I felt this week.  For those of you who have limited to no knowledge of Yiddish (or haven’t spent a good amount of time with any Jews) – to kvell means to be happy and proud about something…often one’s children.  Proud to the point of being ready to burst…to the point of happy tears.

Last Sunday, my little monkey and I went to the park. We used to do this all the time, but since I’ve gone back to work and I only have her every other weekend, our park time together has severely decreased as of late.  But we went last Sunday, and it had been awhile since I’ve seen her play there.  We did the usual sand box business, and swinging (her favorite pastime), and then before we left, she wanted to go on the slide.  Now, you have to understand, this child, my child – she was an extremely cautious toddler.  For many months, it took parental coaxing, therapist nudging, and stuffed animal encouragement to even get her to climb up the apparatus to GET to the slide. But this time…I stood on one side of the jungle gym, she walked around to the other side…climbed up all by herself…grabbed onto the pole above the slide and went down!  Then, she went again…and again, and again.  And sometimes she grabbed onto the pole and swung …like this:

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Like she was a little gymnast – is this really my kid?  While I was trying not to have a heart attack and picture her little limbs flying off, or her letting go at the wrong moment and going kerplunk down the slide flat on her back, I started to think wow, she really has come a long way.  And I kvelled…

While she may be my only biological child, some of my other “children” also had a big week, as they finally graduated high school.  We work our behinds off all year for 2 nights of payoff – November and May graduation. I call my students my other “children” because as their teacher, I am fortunate enough to develop a unique bond with many of them, often forged through tough love, humor and forgiveness.  Being that they are at-risk youth, some of them you’re not sure if they will graduate until the very last moment…and my hair has turned a whiter shade of pale in the last month or so trying to get them to finish.  I got to see four of them walk across the stage on Wednesday night, and it really was gratifying.  One, a year late, but better late than never.  Three of them girls, very strong-willed, sometimes lazy and stubborn, but in the end determined…very reminiscent of me as a teen. Another didn’t quite make the deadline, but has learned a valuable lesson about priorities.  That was the low point of my roller coaster. Having to deliver that kind of news is never easy, but life lessons never are. The high points were the thank yous — the kind words received from the parents who appreciate the efforts that their kids made, and that the teachers make every day.  Up and down I went…

And tonight…Maya’s first performance at school! Well, it wasn’t really a performance…the Rabbi referred to it as them helping lead the service for Tot Shabbat.  Her little class of kochavim (stars) sang two songs, a little ditty about Shabbat, that was very reminiscent of the tune (maybe exactly the tune, couldn’t tell with their little voices) of “Sh Boom Sh Boom (Life Could Be A Dream)” and the appropriately titled “Twinkle, Twinkle Kochavim” – 3-year-olds attempting to sing this in front of a rather large audience was pretty darling.  I noticed my child might have been the only one who knew all the words.  It was late though (like past her bedtime late) and by the time her part was over, one of the teachers led her back to us, exhausted.  She ran to my arms, I pulled her into my lap, and she slumped onto my shoulder. I knew it had been a bit too much for her. She was often overwhelmed when she was younger if the stimuli got to be too much.  Even though earlier in the week, she showed me just how grown up she is becoming, tonight reminded me of what a little girl she still is. So her Daddy took her home to his castle to get  a good night’s sleep.  And I kvelled some more…

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I’m reminded tonight of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Parenthood.  It’s the one where Gil (Steve Martin‘s character) is kvetching (whining) about how complicated life is…and the Grandma wanders into the room…

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.

Gil: Oh?

Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!

Gil: What a great story.

Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

And it’s true…you do get more out of it, when life is like this.  Maybe more shpilkes, sometimes more heartache, but often more love, and definitely more kvell.

By Joy

I'm 42, a remarried mom of an 8 year old girl and a toddler son, a teacher, and a writer. People tell me I tend to be brutally honest and ...tell it like it is, so I had hoped to use this outlet to keep me sane while I got used to my new life as a stay-at-home Mom back when I was home with my worked. And it's been therapeutic through the end of a marriage and the emergence of me...


  1. because you are a beautiful writer…..but also because seeing Maya at the park reminded of my own little girl and how fast time has gone by! I am sad about my baby being a 2nd grader … know me though, I am super emotional 🙂 we’ll talk more tomorrow 🙂

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