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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

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April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 11, 2007 / 21 Teves, 5767

School play is tween version of let's pretend

By Marybeth Hicks

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was the night before auditions for the middle school musical, and Jimmy needed a shot of confidence. So I did what I always do. I took him to my closet.

There, nestled between sweaters and pants and dresses, the weight of fabric absorbing the sound within, Jimmy belted out a verse of "New York, New York" while I stood outside the door.

For reasons that probably are well-documented somewhere in psychological literature, Jimmy can only sing for me when there's a door between us. He won't sing in the car or the kitchen or up in his room.

Although he'll nervously stand in front of several teachers and the director of the show and sing his audition piece, performing it in front of me is excruciating. I discovered this last year when he tried out for "Twinderella," the untold story of Cinderella's little-known twin brother, Bob.

Rather than attempt to get Jimmy to feel comfortable serenading me with his audition piece, I have learned to work around his fear and focus instead on helping him learn the song. "Just pretend I'm not here," I said through the door.

The first few times through, I sang along from my bedroom, urging him to follow the melody. The last time through, he sang it solo and captured almost all of the tune, give or take. When it comes to exact notes in a melody, Jimmy is a "generalist."

"You're going to be great," I said. "Just be fearless. That's the important thing." I figure it's more crucial to show the director he's willing to get into character than it is to sing well, not to mention that there's hardly a boy in the entire middle school who can be relied on vocally.

At the risk of being called a stage mother, I confess that I make Jimmy try out for the play. (Actually, I made him try out last year. This year it was his idea.)

It's not that I harbor any notions about my children becoming stars of the Great White Way. It's that I want them to appreciate the value of the arts in a well-rounded life.

Admittedly, this is a lesson you can learn by joining a choir or taking piano lessons or learning how to draw and paint. Unlike those arts activities, however, the play also provides the chance to do something children are certain they have outgrown.

The play offers the chance to pretend.

There comes a time when all children give up playing pretend, but I'm convinced that, deep down, they miss it. Let's face it; you can't really continue pretending into adolescence and adulthood. If you do, it's called being "delusional," and you usually have to take some sort of medication.

For children, though, playing pretend is the route to healthy development. Experts even say "quality" pretend play facilitates higher-level cognition. (I'm not sure how they define "quality.")

Pretend play used to occupy hours of my children's days. There were elaborate scenarios that involved living in New York City high-rises or being stranded at sea or discovering ancient civilizations. Most of the game of pretend was spent figuring out what the names of the ancient people were, as in, "I get to be Ashley," and, "Let's say my name is Princess Heather."

Pretend play transcended their various ages, too. Everyone could play, the more the better, and each person's contribution was equally valid (OK, not always, but in theory anyway).

In a pretend world, the eight years between my oldest and youngest children melted like icebergs. (And let's say the icebergs are heading toward an uncharted island, and let's say I'm the president of the island and there's a tribe of headhunters there, and let's say we all get amnesia.)

Oops. I get carried away just thinking about it.

I remember one summer at the beach when my children's favorite pretend game was "rescue team." One of them pretended to be drowning while the others ran to her aid, strapping her to a makeshift gurney and wrapping her in towels.

The game was so realistic they started scaring neighbors in the surrounding cottages, so I made them alter the premise. That's when the person in the water got amnesia and the rest had to find clues about who she was.

I think this is why, despite rehearsing in the closet and facing the prospect of singing in front of his buddies, my son — like his sisters — is drawn to the stage. Auditioning is just the price you pay to get into the game of pretend.

This year's middle school production is "Annie Jr.," an hourlong version of the Broadway musical. There aren't many parts for boys. Jimmy got the role of Drake, the butler. Not a big lead, but lots of stage time and a good costume.

Then again, what Jimmy really gets is the chance to pretend he's a butler in the 1930s, serving an imaginary breakfast to a pretend orphan while working on the staff of a friend who's pretending to be the rich and powerful (imaginary) Daddy Warbucks.

Because it's the middle school production, you don't call it "playing pretend," you call it "acting."

For a 12-year-old boy, it's the closest thing you can get to a game you used to love.

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"The Perfect World Inside My Minivan -- One mom's journey through the streets of suburbia"  

Marybeth Hicks offers readers common-sense wisdom in dealing with today's culture. Her anecdotes of her husband and four children tap into universal themes that every parent can relate to and appreciate. -- Wesley Pruden, Editor-in-Chief, The Washington Times
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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 19 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


© 2006, Marybeth Hicks