This very second, Always the Imp is dribbling cookie crumbs and chocolate bits all over my MacBook as she desperately informs me, at the top of her well-developed lungs, that Blondini Boy JUST TOOK ANOTHER COOKIE AND I ONLY GOT ONE!!!
Blondini Boy: I didn't.
Always (calmly, "innocently,"): Excuse me, Mommy, he got TWO THINGS.
Elder Princeski leans over my shoulder as I post, enjoying her mostly-unique literate status by narrating the others' exploits back at them. She continues to read out loud as I write.
(I think it's time for a remote Five-Minute Bedtime Challenge, so they'll go upstairs and "surprise" me by getting ready for bed while I get a written word in edgewise).
Flashback to dinner, the first night of Rosh haShana. The neighbors are over with their motley crew, and together with ours, the resulting ruckus makes it almost impossible to hold a conversation. But we're making the effort, when suddenly...
THAT'S NOT FAIR! yells Always. SHE GOT SECONDS ON CAKE AND I DIDN'T!
(Pause for thought).
Ah, I reply, but earlier today you got a candy and she didn't... doesn't that make it even?
She's not convinced, so I continue. You know that not everything is fair all the time.
I see from her expression that it's time for a tactical change. You know, up in Abba's and my room there's a big secret scoreboard that folds out of the wall when you're not looking. That's how we, and all the other parents, keep track of who gets however many treats. Right?
I turn to our neighbor for confirmation. She nods.
Furthermore, I add, all the homes in the neighborhood are linked through the internet, so when you eat junk food at your friend's house, his parents can look up on our scoreboard whether you've had a treat recently, and if they do give you a candy, they we'll know you don't need dessert at home that night.
She looks skeptical.
Smart kid. But she does stop complaining about the cake discrepancy.
Still, something echoes inside me. Here we are, on Rosh haShana, discussing a secret scoreboard. What a metaphor.
I mean, how many times have I looked over in envy at my neighbor's car (specifically, I'll readily admit, their lovely Mazda 5). And oh, how I justify my desires: If I had a car like that, I could fit the whole carpool in one trip. The kids would have plenty of room and stop fighting all the time.
More aptly, what about all those "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People?" questions that can plague a person after a decade of working with sick kids in the hospital, or maybe as a result of our regularly scheduled lives and their accompanying losses: A relative who dies before his time, a loved one who lose his job, her marriage, their home.
No wonder we're so tempted to ask, Where's the "God of Justice and Mercy" we keep mentioning throughout Yom Kippur? Experience has shown us, time and again: No one's promised us anything.
Still, we ask, pray, beg, cajole. Our Father, Our King. Save us, protect us, heal us, forgive us. We imagine that somewhere, Up There, there must be a Big Secret Scoreboard.
Maybe it doesn't come out even in the end. Or maybe it all comes out even in The End. Meanwhile, we live in hope and wonder.
גמר חתימה טובה.
Keep the balance,