I blinked groggily as I headed towards the kitchen sink. Avi bounced over, a huge smile lighting up his mouth, eyes, and face. He was happy, delighted, through and through.
“I’m giving Chanala breakfast!” he told me joyously. “She chose a pattern herself, of different cereals, and I’m giving it to her. Look!” He showed me the bowl. “First I give her Cocoa Pebbles. Then I give her some mini cookies. Then I give her some Rice Krispies. Then I give her some Cheerios. And then I give her some soymilk.” I glanced at the almost-empty cup with a straw, and at the container of soymilk for his allergenic sister.
“So, Avi, it’s your job to give Chanala breakfast today?” I asked with a smile. His joy was certainly irresistible.
“Yes!” he exclaimed happily. “Here, Chanala, want some cereal?” He ran over to the baby, his hand cupped, and offered it to her. She took one Cheerio with her tiny hand.
I still had to understand this. “What do you mean, Avi, that she chose this pattern?”
Avi readily explained. “My mother told me that she only eats a little of one cereal and then you have to give her a different kind and she eats that. So I got a whole bunch of kinds, and I saw what she wanted. First she took some Cocoa Pebbles. Then I saw that she took some mini cookies. Then she took some Rice Krispies. And then she took some toasted Cheerios! So she chose the pattern, and I saw, this is a pattern that she likes, so I’m doing it again and again, just like she chose!” His megawatt smile and vibrant black eyes beamed across the kitchen.
“Now we have to give her a drink,” Avi explained. He carefully poured about two ounces of soymilk into the cup, repositioned the straw, and picked it up. “Come, Chanala,” he called. “Want a drink?”
I heard him following her up the steps that she had climbed.
Esti joined me in the kitchen. “Chanala stopped climbing the steps,” she informed me. “She found a good place to sit down and drink.”
“Or maybe,” I responded with a smile, “she stopped because she has such a good brother, and he sat down with her right there and gave her to drink.”
I heard Avi running back to the table, grabbing his bowl of many choices in case the baby wanted just a bit more.
He would not rest until he was sure she was happy.
I see Avraham Avinu, running to shecht three cows in order to give his three guests three tongues – the finest meat.
I see Avi, holding the bowl with four types of cereal in his hand.
Avi, I’m sure you are making him proud.
Now, what is that title all about? Five points extra credit to anyone who can figure it out!
Avi stood on the stairs, halfway up to bed, holding the paper in his hand.
“I liked the story,” he said, his face crinkling into that special Avi-smile. Avi’s smile is an earthquake; it splits his face, shines on his rosy cheeks and dances through his black, lively eyes.
“But,” he said, looking disturbed, “that wasn’t the order. It was first Cocoa Pebbles, and the soymilk was last.” I nodded seriously, took the paper from his hand, and penned the necessary corrections. “Thank you so much, Avi.”
“And also… I don’t understand the title.”
I smiled from my position under the railing, and leaned against the wooden slats. “Don’t worry,” I assured him, “I knew you wouldn’t get it. It was sort of a riddle, and I thought that only older kids might get it.”
“So what does it mean?” Avi’s face looked up at me, the black eyes pure innocence awaiting enlightenment. That is the sort of face that makes the heart of a teacher beat fast.
“Yidativ is a word from a pasuk,” I explained. “Hashem said about someone in the Torah. It means, ‘I loved him.’ I beamed at Avi with I-have-a-secret eyes. “Can you guess who it was?”
Avi met my gaze with wondering eyes. He got it. “…Avraham…?”
“You got it!” my eyebrows rose in delight. “So… Hashem said about Avraham, ‘yidativ’- Rashi says that means -‘ I love him.’ But you know what the word really means?” I paused for a moment of suspense.
“It means ‘I know him’. Now, how does ‘I know him’ mean ‘I love him’?”
Avi stared at me, wondering, waiting. I stared into his live black eyes, feeling Avi utterly and completely here in this moment.
“When you love someone, and you care about them very much… you want to get to know them… you want to understand them…and you want to bring them close to you.” My arm reached out and gently caressed Avi’s shoulder.
His eyes burned into mine, fully, innocently, there. “And…” I continued, “When you love someone, you want to know what they like… and what they don’t like – so you can do for them what they like, and not do what they don’t like… because you want to make them happy.”
Avi’s face burst open in excitement. “Just like I was doing for Chanala!!” he exulted, delighting in his understanding. “First I watched her to see what she likes, exactly, and then I copied that, to give her what she likes!!”
Watched her very, very, carefully, I thought. And only because…
“Because you love her so much,” I whispered.
A happiness of satisfaction seemed to fill Avi.
“Avi! Up to bed, right now!!” Parental supervision intervened from below. (That might be a good thing; otherwise I might have waxed poetic for the next three pages.)
Avi looked at me with sudden anxiety. “But… do I still get the extra credit?”
I grinned. “Absolutely!!”
“Avi!” Parental authority this time.
And Avi scampered up the steps, clutching the paper with his story as he dashed off towards bed.
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