“Eema, what’s your career?” my younger son (age 9) asked on the way home from summer camp.
I decided quickly to turn the question back on him, hoping for either a teachable moment or an entertaining answer. “What do you think I do?” I asked.
“I know you make books,” Younger Son said.
“She publishes books,” my older son (age 11) corrected him. “And you’ve written, what, three books too?”
“I’ve finished two,” I said. “And I’ve started a third.” I glanced in the rear-view mirror at my younger son. “Why do you think I chose this career?” I asked him.
Older Son took the opportunity to answer for his younger brother. “Well, I know you started your business so you could be home with us.”
“And you really like books,” Younger Son added.
“I do like books,” I said. “Why do you suppose I wanted to only write and publish Jewish books?”
Younger Son had an answer first this time. “Maybe because that’s all you know how to do?”
“No,” Older Son corrected him again. “She has lots of degrees. She could write books about all sorts of things.” He leaned forward in his seat. “I think it’s because you like being Jewish.”
“That’s pretty much it. Being Jewish is the core of my identity. It helps me understand who I am and why I’m here. And I wanted to give something back to Judaism. Why not meld my two biggest loves: books and being Jewish?”
Younger Son gasped melodramatically. “I thought we were your biggest loves!”
“Okay, my biggest non-people loves.”
“And also,” Older Son said, “I think it’s because you know that Judaism is important for people to know about, what being Jewish really is, and it needs to be displayed more openly so people can learn about it.”
I could only smile and shake my head as I drove. Mission accomplished. This time it was Older Son teaching me.