Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Admiration for the Frum Woman

I am in awe of the frum woman. Seriously. In the outside world weddings happen once a year, babies are born once in a lifetime and jobs require endless hours of devotion. Somehow, frum women get married, have numerous babies and hold down jobs without complaint. We are constantly surrounded by expectant mothers yet they rarely complain publicly. Watch Oprah for a few episodes and you realize just how hard pregnancy can be. I think it's a tremendous gift that frum women give to their daughters that they march through pregnancy with grace and little complaining- so that there daughters aren't terrified to become pregnant later in life. There are expectations- to be devoted wives, loving mothers good housekeepers, good cooks,  and good employees. And these women rise to and surpass these expectations. So hip hip hooray for frum women! :-)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Disturbing Dichotomy

I'v worked in 4 schools. I've previously worked in 3 frum schools ranging from Modern Orthodox to Chasidish. I currently work in a predominantly low income public school. The 3 frum schools had one thing in common- some degree of behavior difficulty. (the chasidish school was slightly better and the little girls were quite well behaved) but the middle of the road frum school and the Modern Orthodox school were complete behavioral disasters. Children talked back, ran in the halls, had physical altercations with each other, wrote curse words on the walls, mercilessly teased one another and sang inappropriate songs at recess. I now work in a public school. The children walk in line. They say "please" and "thank you". They do not answer back. They are quiet, polite respectful. I remember library time in one of the frum schools- it was nightmarish. The kids pulled books out of each other's hands, wouldn't quiet down when the library teacher talked, and answered their homeroom teacher back when she said their time was up. In contrast- in the public school they are absolutely silent. The library teacher admonished one student for having his head turned away during class. 
I don't get it. It's not just in the city where I live either. My friend works in a different city doing special education- she just graduated and was eager to begin work in a frum school. No positions were available. She reluctantly took a position in a public school. She didn't want to be in the "non frum" environment. She even told her mother "I didn't go to a frum college program for this!"  Well- a few months into the year she realized she loved working in the public school. The teachers were polite and allowed her to pull students from the classrooms without fuss. The students were cute and polite. There was no frum "hock" in the school. She could show up with no makeup and a denim skirt and it would in now way get back to her mother or to shadchanim. A slot in a frum school eventually opened up and she was overjoyed- for about a day. The frum teachers rolled their eyes when they saw her at the door. "ANOTHER annoying therapist!?" they made scheduling a nightmare. "You can't see Chana during davening, recess, lunch, Chumash, Navi, math, english or history" and the children were spoiled and badly behaved. She said she loved working in the public school because preparation was easy. She brought in Candyland or Guess Who and the kids were thrilled. Frum kids needed a 3 ring circus to be impressed. After working for a few weeks doing 2 days a week in the frum school my friend switched to full time in the public school. I don't blame her.
 What is going on!? My husband remembers his non-religious, secular studies teachers telling the class "You religious kids behave terribly" I always knew that was a common refrain among secular studies teachers in boys' schools. I has always assumed that it was due to the fact that (unfortunately) frum kids don't always respect people who aren't religious. Which is terrible! I've now come to the realization that they don't respect ANYBODY. Which is awful! Why are the frum kids such terrors and the public school kids so great? Another friend of mine believes it is because "the public school kids get NO attention elsewhere. School is the only place for structure and rules in their lives so they behave there. They aren't so well behaved at home". Ummmm maybe that accounts for a handful of kids. Does it account for well behaved children in different schools all over the country? Granted the public school kids aren't perfect. There are severe issues there that you never see in frum schools. But overall, the general school atmosphere is that of good behavior. Are frum kids behaving badly because of "hismaatus hadoros" and because in the ikvasa d'mashicha there will be an avir of chutzpah? Am I the only one disturbed and saddened by this dichotomy of behavior? Does anyone else notice this?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Like a Fine Wine?

I’ve been thinking a lot about shidduchim lately. You get a whole new perspective once you cross the thin white line into the ranks of the married. This post is a reflection on what superficially MOTIVATES guys to date girls. It’s humorous to see how Hashem makes things play out in the end- but let’s examine what makes a date worth going out with. I’ve pretty much outlined what  superficial factors make a girl desirable in the shidduch dating arena. Although these superficial factors cannot change who your bashert will be it cannot be denied that they play a crucial role in how appealing a female is to potential dates.
- Money is important- and can convince the staunchest New Yorker to date a girl from Kansas (or Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, you name it.) It isn’t the be all and end all- but it’s a nice icing on the cake. It can “sweeten the deal” and eliminate fears of parnasah issues. Naturally parnasah is in the hands of Hashem- so this is essentially ridiculous- but humans seek reassurance from things like money- so this helps. If you want to be more spiritual- a guy wants money to support his learning. No matter how you cut it- the more money he is given the longer he can learn. If a guy is in school the prospect of having well-to-do in laws foot the bill is immensely appealing. A business to enter into will set the learning and the working guy’s heart a flutter. Love at first resume glance? Perhaps……
- Looks- If a girl is objectively attractive her  rating sky rockets. Now- objectively pretty is just that- anyone can look at her and agree she is attractive. I’m not talking about supermodel stunners- I’m talking about slender, relatively proportionate girls who put themselves together well. There are some girls who are raw, natural beauties. However- to males a girl can have loads of potential  (a magnificent figure, the most dainty stunning bone structure, lily-clear skin, beautiful eyes, a dainty nose and lovely hair) but if that figure is in an oversize sweater, she’s wearing glasses, no makeup, a  frizzy ponytail etc- he just wont see it. A girl can be far less naturally pretty but be far more attractive to males with just a little (ONLY A LITTLE!) makeup- and a good blowout.  So- although everyone has a different opinion of attractiveness and “put togetherness” there are some girls who are “objectively pretty” and that helps TONS in making them appealing in the shidduch world.
SO here comes my big question:
If money and looks (essentially learning to take care of yourself and putting yourself together well) are the most important superficial factors in getting a girl a date. (not a husband mind you- a date) Then why aren’t girls like Fine Wine? Better as they age!?
Why are guys still chasing 19 year olds who smile blankly when you ask them about their career- and then giggling reply- “I’m taking one semester in Israeli dance and psychology in Touro and then I’ll get engaged!” Having an education PRIOR to marriage is priceless! The longer you work without expenses the more money you can SAVE. With each child more and more of your money goes toward day to day living expenses and less goes toward savings. A girl working as…say an Occupational Therapist can make upwards of forty grand a year (after taxes!!)- imagine she pays no rent, no grocery bills..etc. By age 24 she will have put away eighty grand! (at least!) It’s also a triple whammy of savings, not only does she have money saved, she continues to make money regularly, and she is no longer paying for school. (even a student loan is minimal compared with the benefits attained) Eighty grand is a nice little package of money- that even some very wealthy fathers of nineteen year olds can’t provide! (never mind that if you marry a girl at 19 by the time she’s finished with school, she has two kids AND student loans)
-          And looks? Sure- young girls have that youthful glow- but we’re not talking about old crones here! A 23 or 24 year old girl retains her youth for goodness sake! She isn’t 80! Not only that- but  I’d argue that these girls look BETTER than most 19 year olds- who are fresh out of high school and haven’t quite figured their look out yet. I looked SO much better the few months before I got engaged than I did at 19! I had an excellent haircut,  clothes that flattered me and makeup applied naturally (not garishly).
Obviously there are many (less superficial reasons) to date girls a tad older. (They are more developed, more confident, have worked on their middos, have had time to develop their own opinions, have had a chance to live and enjoy the single life and will now put every ounce of energy into their new home, they’re  more grateful to get engaged and find Mr. Right, etc. ) BUT if we look at even the most superficial motivations for dating someone- looks and money- the older girl STILL wins. So why AREN’T they considered by males to be like fine wine? Better with age?

YAY! :-)

I’m a newlywed and a new life calls for a new hobby! a blog! :-) Here is where I’ll post interesting random things I’ve found on the internet, my random (meandering) thoughts, poems and whatever piques my interest at the moment. Hold on to your hats if you join me for the ride.
Right now I’m just reveling in the pure joy of the freedom to blog. Oh, how much we take for granted in our free society- take a look at this:
Apparently, it’s forbidden to blog without a license in Saudi Arabia. Really puts things in perspective doesn’t it?