Dear Dr. Yael:
Thank you for your February 7 column, “Respecting Our Children,” in which A Reader wrote, “Although some readers may roll their eyes while reading my letter, the problem I’ve addressed hurts my children and me.” I am also a mother with a large young family who lives in a frum neighborhood where the stores are very close to our home. Two of my nine children, 12- and 13-year-old daughters, have also had people cut in front of them on line at the bakery and grocery.
My girls help me very much with my other children. Baruch Hashem, my husband and I have a great marriage. He is a great father, but works very hard running his business (earning a good parnassah), and tries to learn twice a day while always davening with a minyan. As a result of his busy schedule, the burden of running the house and caring for the children falls largely on my shoulders. After reading your column, I decided to implement some of the ideas you suggested.
I generally try to make lists of orders and to have all the food delivered to our house. I attempt to put all the food items needed (e.g., challah) on the list, negating the necessity for my daughters to shop for me on erev Shabbos. But in the event that I leave something off the list and my daughters need to go shopping, we role-play – as you suggested – how they should handle the situation if someone cuts in front of them. They loved the idea of saying, with derech eretz, “Excuse me, but I am sure that you don’t realize that I am next in line.”
About two weeks agoon a Thursday night, I was up almost all night with the baby. When the baby finally fell asleep, so did I – and when I woke up at 10 a.m., the baby was still asleep and my wonderful husband had gotten all the children off to school. He also sent me a text forbidding me to bake challah for Shabbos, as he knew how tired I was. He wanted me to buy the challah instead.
After completing my Shabbos preparations, my oldest daughter volunteered to pick up challah from the local bakery. Before leaving, she said smilingly, “Don’t worry, Mommy, I will not let anyone cut in front of me. I know all of Dr. Yael’s techniques and I will tell the people in front of me, with derech eretz, that it is my turn.” She was home in fifteen minutes – with a big smile on her face.
I asked my excited daughter what happened. She said, “Mommy, you would not believe how it worked. I was next in line at the bakery and a woman behind me who was talking on her cell phone just cut in front of me and gave her order. I said in a really nice tone, ‘Excuse me, I am not sure you realize it but I was next in line.’
“The woman was embarrassed and quiet, and I gave my order. The non-Jewish lady who served me smiled at me, and, in broken English, said, ‘You are a good girl and I am giving you two special cookies for free. Which do you want?’ I guess she liked the way I spoke to the lady who tried to cut in front of me. I pointed to my favorite cookies, the ones with the chocolate cream swirl on top, and she gave them to me with a smile. And she wished me a happy Shabbos.”
My daughter concluded by saying, “Mommy, I feel so good. I feel strong and I am so happy.”