Kids = Happiness – Parshat Shmot
This week’s parsha describes Bnei Yisrael’s incredible proliferation in Egypt and their astounding birthrate that surpassed anything ever seen or imagined even in Jerusalem’s Shaarei Tzedek Hospital!
Shifra and Puah, the quintessential Jewish midwives, work overtime—both physically and spiritually—putting in triple shifts as they flout Pharaoh’s direct order to murder any baby boy born to a Jewish mother. They place their lives on the line in order to save and grant life to the Jewish infants.
“And the midwives feared G-d and did not do as the king of Egypt instructed them; and they kept the male infants alive” (Shmot 1:17). These women brought forth the generation of Bnei Yisrael destined to leave Egypt, the foremost generation of children in a glorious history of people soon to become the Chosen Nation. Whereas the Matriarchs—Sarah, Rivka, Rachel ad Leah—in Sefer Bereishit yearned and prayed for the privilege of bearing children; in Egypt, Hashem’s blessing was keenly felt in the veritable explosion of births and a nation described as the sand of the shore and stars in the sky, as written, “And the nation multiplied and proliferated very much (1:20).
Pharaoh was exceedingly anxious pending the birth of the future Jewish leader and savior, yet Moshe Rabbeinu was born and flourished despite his evil decrees. After being nurtured by his mother for three months in hiding, he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the royal palace!
Imma, I miss your couscous!
A close friend of mine who’s visited India numerous times once mentioned that she’s always amazed to meet other tourists and particularly fellow Jews, all products of their “Yiddishe mammes.” Upon chatting with a group of Europeans, she learned that one hadn’t spoken to his mother since the age of sixteen, and another swore that she called her father every December to wish him a happy birthday. But the Israelis? Not a Friday passes when those young adults don’t call home tearfully to wish their parents “Shabbat Shalom!” Not a day passes without an e-mail from home, and not an hour passes without a Whatsapp from Imma asking, “What are you eating? Are you cold?”
Now, that’s a Jewish mother for you!
Apparently, the blessing, love and appreciation of children is ingrained deep within us as a nation to the extent that we are actually defined by our strong family values.
Kids’ bedrooms open the door to an entire world of design. It’s fun, captivating, colorful and constantly changing.
Most rooms in the house are pretty stationary in terms of design. If we don’t remodel the kitchen, for example, it’ll keep the same design (or lack thereof!) for ten, twenty or thirty years! The same applies to our dining room and bedroom furniture. Kids’ bedrooms, in contrast, constantly invite change depending on the number of children in the family, their gender, age, family choices regarding shared or individual bedrooms, and of course, taste.
The perfect nursery for your perfect little one
Pampers’ ads flaunt the model nursery, but for the most part, those rooms exist only in pictures… In real life, few people have the resources, time or inclination to redesign a bedroom from top to bottom every two years. The baby blue or pink accented with bunny rabbits and teddy bears that’s so adorable for your two-month-old may not be suited for your two-year-old and certainly not for your four-, six-, eight-, or ten-year-old!
Similarly, the baseball motif that your son chooses at the age of six—from the wallpaper to the linens to the garbage can—won’t interest him by the time he’s eight. (On second thought…there are guys who would still go for that at thirty-eight…) But I guarantee that the pretty pink princesses that your daughter will beg you to plaster along her walls will embarrass her several years down the road, and she’ll pronounce the room babyish…
And what about when boys and girls share a room? How many boys want to sleep in a frilly pink castle, and how many girls will agree to go to bed with Spiderman lurking over their heads?
In a general sense, it’s best to select neutral shades and themes that will be attractive and appreciated by kids of all ages. This includes geometric designs, animal prints, and antique maps of the world.
It’s likewise recommended to avoid an overdose of any particular color or theme, which is why one striking piece of furniture—a bed, chair or even dresser—can serve as the central attraction in the room.
Remember that your child needs to go to sleep in his room, so you don’t want to over-stimulate his senses with disco lights and flashy colors.
A kids’ bedroom should also account for playing comfort and adequate space that encourages children to use their imaginations. Avoid adding extra pieces and ornaments just because they’re pretty or cute. You really want that wooden rocking horse? First see what you can take out of the room or find an alternate spot for it, if you really can’t bear to leave it in the store!
Kids are notorious for their ever-changing hobbies and collections, so storage and display space is also a must. Whether it’s the collection of kindergarten art projects, clay animal figurines, China dolls or handmade jewelry, your little ones want the world to see it and enjoy it as much as they do. Storage space becomes even more vital as children become teenagers and need an adequate number of shelves for their books and school supplies, not to mention drawers for their endless “stuff.”
Bikes dangling from the ceiling
I definitely recommend including your kids in the fun and process of designing their own bedrooms and creating a place that suits their tastes—a room that they’ll love and feel comfortable inviting friends or just being themselves. You may even find yourself enjoying some of their more outlandish ideas—like a bike dangling from the ceiling—and adapt it into something more realistic, like a clock or mirror framed by a tire.
I love designing kids’ bedrooms and knowing that I’m creating a safe haven for them—a place that fosters a positive mood and comfort and allows them to grow and thrive.
The Midrash teaches us an amazing lesson: Hashem specifically wanted Moshe Rabbeinu to grow up in Pharaoh’s palace where he would acquire royal manners, etiquette and leadership qualities as opposed to among his own people, Bnei Yisrael, who were oppressed and enslaved. It was with these defining characteristics that Moshe could approach his people and lead them out of Egypt.
Inspired by my own “little prince” who since last summer has been busy playing War with Hamas, I begin to wonder if perhaps the impact of Pharaoh’s palace on Moshe’s life began right in his nursery. Who knows if he dreamed that the green froggie on the wall grew to gargantuan proportions and gave birth to thousands of baby frogs whose chirping echoed throughout the land? Who knows if like my son, he too dreamed of the good guys triumphing over the bad guys…
As I said at the very start, kids equal happiness!
My prince’s room… Design & styling – Aviva Loberbaum Photography – Meitav Imas
If you are interested in some more children’s room inspiration, I recommend you have a look at I love my room - a great Children’s room design book.