I confess: I have Passover anxiety.
Now, I’ll freely admit to being a slightly, ahem, anxious individual. I tend to fret about things ranging from the mainstream (career, money) to the somewhat improbable (spies hacking into my email account to expose my G-chat history, the fact that I almost certainly harbor a rare and undiagnosed disease).
Roz Chast is my soulmate.
I particularly worry about social snafus: accidentally revealing a secret (“Why, yes, our mutual friend who has seemingly gained 40 pounds overnight is actually pregnant with triplets!”), unknowingly offending someone, somehow coming off as impolite. I write prompt thank-you notes. My emails contain lots of exclamation points.
Naturally, I want my son to be polite, too. Whining, pouting, not saying “please” or “thank you”—these transgressions don’t fly in my household. Fortunately, he’s a good (and very laid-back) preschooler.
But Passover has me concerned. Here’s the thing: I didn’t grow up celebrating Passover. My dad is Jewish, and we grew up with Hanukkah, but Passover is something that I’ve only come to celebrate as an adult. In recent years, a friend’s parents have taken my family into their home and introduced me to the rituals, the history, the food. It’s been a nice way to connect with a piece of my heritage that I wasn’t fully exposed to growing up.
Of course, my son has always been invited, too. Until recently, he’s been too young to fully partake. Which has been a relief: any sort of fussy, drool-y, inattentive behavior could be attributed to not yet having teeth. Last year, though, our friend’s parents included him in the four questions, gamely watched as he fidgeted with gefilte fish and maror, invited him to find the afikoman, and so forth, step by step by step.
He did fine (with a little help), but I spent most of the night wondering if he was going to spill juice on himself, ask to watch “Hobby Kids” on his iPad, or request sunflower butter for his matzah. Each time we were prompted to take a sip of wine, I took a gulp.
This year, he’s even more talkative. He muses about Donald Trump’s hair. He wants to discuss his trio of pet fish, The Fast Brothers. He recreates scenes from “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” (Don’t ask.) What could possibly go wrong?
Of course, I eagerly (politely!) accepted our friend’s invitation once more, but I’m nervous. These days, getting my son to sit still for 10 minutes before asking to play Monopoly Jr. is a small victory. Two hours? Maybe more? I’m fairly certain that one of the four questions is not, “How much do you love Steve Martin?” Sigh.
Why is this night different from all other nights? Because it’s the one I’ll finally get kicked out of someone’s house! I’m joking (sort of). But if anyone has tips for introducing a preschooler to Passover, I’d love to hear ‘em.