Pesach: Putting FUN in disFUNction

Someone once described my head as a carnival. La-la — look at that Ferris wheel…la-dida, ooooh popcorn….oh look, a big teddy bear — where’s the cotton candy?

I’m not classified as having ADHD but I have no problem being titled with those four letter. Heck, I’ll never get a Ph.D after my name, so why not take on these letters instead?

Why does my brain work like this? I don’t really know. But I know some of it comes from dysfunctional thinking. Like having high expectations, maybe having negative ideas, always catching the train of thought right on time, changing my mind, oh look — there’s a friend, jumping from subject to subject, remembering a funny line out of nowhere, reminiscing on a nice moment, oh look — a for sale sign, a pretty flower, “I’m sorry –did you just say something?”, remembering what you forgot, forgetting what you had just remembered, the lists of errands, the lists of items for shopping, the lists of bills… etc etc etc. This is my head. Always.

Not that I am dysfunctional. On the contrary, I believe I am a functioning, highly energetic, positive, go-getter, full-time working single mom of two rowdy boys. I am functional, and then some, if I do say so myself. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have dysfunctional thoughts!

I think there is a level of dysfunctional thinking in all of us. Somehow, someway, it creeps into us. From childhood experiences, trauma, society, TV, bad friends …crazy thoughts enter us one way or another. Why else would we ever doubt ourselves, think we are ugly, stupid or not worthy of happiness? Many of us walk around as highly productive people, but these scattered, and many times useless thoughts linger inside us even if we don’t expose them to the world. The question is, once it barges in without prior permission, what do I do about it?

Pesach is the time of year where a lot of these dysfunctional thoughts, which may have been hiding out somewhere in the back closet, suddenly appear alongside all the hidden Cheerios from behind the furniture. It creeps up on us like no other time of the year. The thoughts are packaged in wrapping paper called: Cleaning! Washing! Checking! Scrubbing! Looking! Finding! Disposing! Un-cluttering! Then….Shopping! Cooking! Cooking! Cooking! But inside, our thoughts might be: Kill me now. I hate this. This is the holiday of freedom?!!!! I feel jailed inside my Windex bottle!

Here are the four questions as I know them to be at this time of year (at least in Israel):
Did you turn over your kitchen?
When are you turning over your kitchen?
In what form are you turning over your kitchen?
And my personal favorite: You didn’t turn over your kitchen yet?!

(The fourth question is rhetorical, but a question nonetheless.)

And the four sons goes something like this:
The OCD son — “There isn’t a speck in my house three days after Purim.”
The ADHD son — ”I did ⅓ of all nine rooms in the house, but nothing is complete.”
The Chiller son — ”Dude, chill, relax yourself….it’s all good man.”
The spaced out son — ”What? Pesach is here already? When did that happen?”

And don’t even get me started on the songs…

But here is the deal. Mothers are yelling, fathers are breaking their heads over the breaking of their bank accounts. Children are starving because they don’t have 35 options to choose from in the fridge. Everyone is walking around like the end of the world is coming, walking fast, rushing their sentences to become just prefixes or acronyms, and speed driving! So many individuals are being dramatic, crazed, and intense. This to me is dysfunctional.

So how do we put the FUN in dysfunctional? First, we need to realize, G-d gives us rules, but He cares a lot, a lot, a lot more about our relationship with Him, our relationships with our families and our relationships with our fellow Jews — way more than He cares if you flipped through each book on your shelf to see if there happens to be a crumb stuck between two pages from a book you have not opened since the 1990’s. How do I know? Oh honey, I know.

It can’t be that the same G-d who commands us to clean our homes for Pesach is also the same G-d that says “Go ahead, ruin your life over this holiday. That’s right, after taking you out of Egypt and walking you through the desert for 40 years, of course I want you to feel like you are dying. Destroy your relationship with your husband, yell at your kids as much as you want, and make sure, no matter what, that you are too tired to sit at the Seder table! Do you hear me?”

It just can’t be.

So here are some fun ways to take the dysfunction and turn it into happy memories.
1. Make fun of the enigma called “Pesach Cleaning”. Tell all the Pesach jokes you know (Why did the Seder take so long? Because everyone was constantly-patted.) Share all the funny Pesach quotes you get on your Facebook feed, and look in the mirror and laugh when you start looking like a Shmata on a stick.
2.MUSIC!!!! Play music — the best, the loudest, the funnest music that you can dance and sing along too. It does magical wonders.
3.Take breaks! Go for a walk, a hike, a fun activity….enjoy some of the vacation time you have with your kids and spend some of the time off enjoying the great outdoors with the family!
4. Remember, as a wise soul once told me: Dust isn’t chametz. Make the discrepancy in your head. The good news is, it will still be Spring after Pesach too, so you can spring clean AFTER PESACH. But before Pesach, just get rid of bread and its relatives.
5. Remember, the more excitement you infuse in your home, and the more you take slow, steady steps…the better chances your home will be a place of serenity, love and G-dliness. Please don’t have to start your Seder by turning to your family members and apologizing for your behavior.

These are my five tips but if you organize and reshuffle your naturally dysfunctional thoughts, speech and perhaps even actions, and instead emphasize the fun in it all, you can make the next week super fantastic!

How do I know? Well, love, I just know.

About the Author
Sarah Nathan made Aliyah in 2007 from NY- single and passionate. She has two kids and lives in Jerusalem.
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