Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Idle Hands

Some days, I just can't achieve coherence. Teaching is hard, writing is hard, kids are hard. I love all of it, but by the end of the day, after I've come home, cleaned up a bit, folded the laundry, and dealt with the needs of the rabbits, chickens, chinchilla, dog, cat, and those boys of mine, my brain is tired. It's time for a new post, though, so today, I offer up my scraps and leavings.

My son, Benjamin (13), is living biblically for three days. He's become a devoted fan of A.J. Jacobs because I had his new book, Drop Dead Healthy, playing in the car on the way home from my parents' new home in Rockport, MA. Ben demanded I surrender all my copies of A.J.'s earlier works. A.J is one of my favorite writers, and a kind benefactor whenever I have asked him for support for my writing, so I handed over The Know-it-All, My Life as an Experiment, and The Year of Living Biblically. After reading about a third of The Year of Living Biblically, Ben decided to try the experiment for himself. It's become a project for his English class, and with hope, will be over Saturday after the Sabbath ends.

Finnegan (8) was eager to help. He ran out the door, yelling over his shoulder that he knew where the PERFECT stick for a biblical-type staff lay in the woods across the street.

Understand, Ben is notoriously skeptical of organized religion (I can't imagine where he would have picked that up), so this has been an interesting experiment to watch. Here's his list of biblical rules, based on his cursory Googling of "Bible" and "rules":

I had to point out that the Sabbath does not, in fact, last until Sunday evening, but besides that, I was fairly impressed by his depth and scope. 

This morning, he announced that he had broken eight rules by breakfast. Apparently, he had looked in the mirror a couple of times (vanity), clipped his toenails (vanity) and accidentally mentioned G-d (that's for Ben's sake, who knows what kind of effect my blasphemy can have on his project) to Finnegan when he asked why Ben was wearing a curtain to school. 

Yes, a curtain. He liked it because it looked like tassels. I don't know what benefit the tassels are, but whatever. He rode the bus like this. You have to appreciate the self-confidence required to engage in this experiment. 

This afternoon, he requested a kosher dinner. I had to spend some time on Google myself. I am used to dealing with localvore (Finnegan and I do our best), but kosher was a new experience for me. I started looking for the "K" on my groceries, but only found it on my kosher salt. Go figure.

The one part of this experiment that has been a thrill for me is the respect for elders aspect. That's just lovely. Ben cleaned up after himself willingly, even if he explained WHY he was being so helpful as he was being so helpful. Only Ben can be helpful and sarcastic all at the same time.

I will post updates as events warrant. Apparently, he's fasting tomorrow, so that should be interesting. That kid eats his weight in groceries every day, so we'll see how he fares.


  1. Mazel Tov to Ben. Always nice to hear of kids who are willing to stretch themselves and imagine a different life.

    Trying to imagine Linus having the confidence to ride the M15 bus to school in a shower curtain (or sheet).

  2. I just had coffee with my girlfriend who mentioned Jacobs' latest book, Drop Dead Healthy. He sat down to make a list of all the things he could do to improve his health. It lasted 53 pages! I love that your son is embarking on this challenge. And even more that he wore that curtain to school. He's an inspiration, for sure.

  3. Would imagine if he starts stoning the non-believers he could find himself in a bit of trouble these days :) Love the sheet and staff. Fasting is tough at his age (Andrew did it recently)... I recommend Gatorade in addition to water.
    Have fun!

  4. I'm impressed! As for kosher, when in doubt, go vegetarian and avoid cheese with rennett. Localvore is always good (less processed, less likely to have sneaky meat products like rennett, which I'm probably spelling wrong).