When my father had back surgery, he shopped around to nearly every top orthopedic surgeon in L.A. until he found one willing to cut into his ailing eighty-five-year-old frame and repair three levels of his lumbar vertebrae. We were overjoyed to see him recover from the spine operation, but soon thereafter he needed a knee replacement. Oy vey! For all his health issues, he still maintains his Dodgers and Lakers season tickets, trades on the stock market, and teaches a monthly Jewish history class. But his pleasure in life is sharply curtailed in what seems to be a cruel downward spiral of Job-like proportions.

The Rebbe of Klausenberg,

Rabbi Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam,

Was a spiritual giant

Of a man.

He lived 1905-1994,

A survivor

Of the Second World War,

Never sat shiv’ah

For the 11 children he lost,

Occupied with saving others

During the Holocaust.

 

He settled in America

For a time beforehand,

Eventually reaching the Holy Land,

In Natanya established

The Laniado Hospital,

Turned to blessing, his surviving

The unspeakable.

 

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, of Efrat,

In Williamsburg, witnessed something that,

Though a child, always stayed in his mind:

In the Klausenberger Shul

The Rebbe’s outlook was defined;

There, “The Rebuke” was being read,

The reader lowered his voice

As is custom.

But instead,

The Rebbe shouted, “Hecher, hecher!” (“Louder!”)

Let the Almighty hear

That the curses are fulfilled;

May only blessings now appear!

 

The birth pangs of Mashiach –

Cataclysmic, severe –

Have all materialized;

But at the end,

Hashem makes clear:

“I will remember My covenant

With Yaakov,

And also My covenant with Yitzchak,

And also My covenant with Avraham,

Will I remember;

And I will remember the Land.”

 

All negativity and darkness

Conceal sparks of good,

For them to reach us, as they should;

They descend to earth hidden

Under the guise of a curse;

For example, the following verse:

“Each man will stumble

Over his brother

Fleeing, as if from the sword.”

Guarantors for each other

In punishment and reward,

All Jews specific parts

Of one collective soul,

Mixed and pleasant

Parts of the whole,

May this recognition help heal

Our spiritual exile

To make all we’ve been through

Though harsh, seem worthwhile.

 

As the innocent souls

File through Heaven’s gate,

Enemies of Israel

Celebrate.

HaKadosh Baruch Hu,

We know all

Is from you, still

Please give us courage

To bear Your will.

May this curse atone,

May Your mercy be shown

To those lost and injured

In Meron.

 

By Sharon Marcus

 

When I’m older, I’m gonna let my kids do whatever they want! Parents are so annoying!” This is a direct quote from my childhood. A recurring quote. My closing remarks to almost every argument I had with my parents. Then I walked away, my angry face wincing in frustration. I made sure to walk away at an angle that allowed my parents to see the disapproval emanating from the corners of my cheeks as I made my exit.

The frustration of feeling misunderstood is one that we can relate to no matter our stage of life. It is usually accompanied by resentment, infuriation, and disappointment in the perpetrator. Almost universally, children believe parents don’t understand their struggle. From their perspective, adults live the life. We can go to the bathroom without asking permission and have a snack at our desks even during work time. We go to recess whenever we want, and have unfettered access to the bottomless credit card. We have no bedtime, no screen time limits, and can eat junk food before dinner. We drive a superpowered go-kart to work, where we get to sit at a computer all day! No one makes us write apology letters or tells us to make our beds. We certainly don’t have to chew with our mouths closed.

We cannot expect to be patient parents without relating to this imagery. So often we encounter circumstances with our children that are overwhelmingly frustrating. In these moments, awareness of the child’s perspective is what pulls us through.

We need to enter the child’s world to parent, teach, educate, and guide him appropriately. We need to remember what it was like as a child to feel the contempt of others when our needs were inconvenient. We need to remember the confidence in our opinions, and the bewilderment when others disagreed. We need to remember how it felt to know that classmates found us irritating. We need to remember trying to get our parents’ attention, yet feeling ignored because others had their concentration. We must remember the pain of coming second to an electronic device.

We need to remember the sinking feeling in our hearts when looked down on with disapproval. We must never forget the loneliness that accompanied first days at school, being picked up last from play group, and long nights scared of the dark.

We must recall the isolation of feeling picked on by classmates, siblings, and even teachers. Most importantly, we must think back to the anguish at the times when our parents’ words were the ones that cut deep, laying waste to our self-esteem.

Simply put: We need to remember what it’s like to be a kid. We need to remember the innocence, the vulnerability, and the dependence of childhood.

How do we do this? With all of life’s distractions, how do we have the wherewithal to travel so far back in time and remember what our children are experiencing?

Parents of children with special needs face unique challenges in raising their children. One such challenge is the question of what to do when a child with special needs turns 18, the legal age of adulthood. It is during the few years after a child turns 18 that the services and programs associated with the public education system end and are replaced by different benefits targeted toward adults. Managing the transition from services for minors to adult care presents one of the greatest challenges for parents of children with special needs. There are a number of paths parents can take to ensure that their adult child is best provided for in the future.