Monday, March 22, 2010

The Purpose of Kvetching

Human beings kvetch--it's part of our nature. But we seem to have annointed one period in our calendar where kvetching is not only acceptable but seems to be required. We are in that period now, the time between Purim and Pesach. If a subject is suitable to be kvetched about at other times, it is doubly suitable during this time period. Not sure what I mean by kvetching? See the following.

Schools/yeshivas: "What do you mean they are having a day off?! Don't they know we're busy making Pesach?!"--"What do you mean the teacher assigned a project that is due next week?! Doesn't he/she know that Pesach is coming?!"

Current Events/Politics: "This had to happen now?! They couldn't wait to give the bad news until after Pesach?!"--

Cleaning: "Just what crazy man invented the laws of what has to be cleaned for Pesach?! Did he hate women that much?!"--"There is no way that chometz got put up on that shelf in the closet! (pause) How did chometz get put up on that shelf in the closet?!"--(Upon reading the labels on cleaning products, both ingredients and warnings) "What crazy person allows this company to sell a product that can maim or kill people?!"--"We can't possibly own this much stuff!"

Economics: "They are charging WHAT for fresh fish?!"--"Who do they think I am?! Rothschild?! Where do they get the chutzpah to ask these prices?!"

Family: "Just who do they think I am?! The maid?!"--"I know I raised them to put away their things!"--"Sure my husband is going to have to work late every night this week!"--"My children need me to do what right now?!"

You get the picture. Frankly, I'm a great believer that kvetching is important for mental health. Those who kvetch are far less likely to indulge in mayhem and violence. Kvetching gives us an outlet for our frustrations. And if kvetching should also result in volunteer hands to make things easier? Well, wouldn't that be wonderful.


Lion of Zion said...

"What do you mean they are having a day off?! Don't they know we're busy making Pesach?!"

i personally don't know anyone who make that kvetch. but what i do hear people kevetching is, "what do you mean vacation starts 5 days before pesach actually starts because teachers need to make pesach?! how does rest of the world manage to make pesach even while working right up until chag?!"

" And if kvetching should also result in volunteer hands to make things easier?"

has this worked for you?

ProfK said...

It depends on how artfully the kvetching is constructed. Yesterday it worked beautifully. Me: "Don't tell me I'm shrinking, the step ladder has gotten shorter!" (standing in front of cabinet that needs the top of the doors washed). Son: "Ma, it's you not the ladder." Me: "Prove it." Son: (climbing on to top step of ladder) "See, I can reach perfectly so the ladder didn't shrink." Me: (handing spray and shmatte to son) "So maybe you could finish doing the tops of the cabinets since I obviously have shrunk?" Son: "Sure ma."

ksil lo yavin said...

Lion - one of the (few) benefits of teaching in a jewish school. Lord knows, they dont get paid much....

Anonymous said...

That space between the kitchen cabinets and the ceiling is one of the worst home design defects. It serves no purpose other than to collect dust in a place that's hard to reach or hold cutesy decorative items that get dusty. I'm so glad my current kitchen does not have that space.

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Suri said...

There are tradeoffs Lion re the teachers being off in the days before Pesach. If you want the school in session and you want the teachers to have to go through what other women go through in having to work at night or take precious vacation days off then that is possible. All you have to do is then treat them just like all other working people. First, raise their salaries to what those outside the yeshiva system are making with comparable education. Then give them some benefits like those outside working people get--you know, like health insurance and retirement plans and 401Ks. Then all you'll have to do is raise the tuition in the yeshivas to cover the costs. So there is a choice--pay for childcare for those days the schools are off before a chag or pay another $5-10K in tuition to cover paying the teachers a real living wage.

Tamar said...

LOL for the stepladder story. Going to see if I can use that script and get the same result.

Lion of Zion said...


"the local Bais Yaakov high school has been off since Rosh Chodesh"

my son's last day is wednesday. and i thought prospect was bad (started vacation today). i'm afraid to ask which rosh chodesh :)


"It depends on how artfully the kvetching is constructed."

it really bothers me that academic types who live in staten island, particular english professors, don't know how to clean properly for pesach. i'll bet they couldn't even clean my small apartment properly.


"Lord knows, they dont get paid much"

the lord might know how much the teachers in my son's school get paid, but i have no idea. do you really know how much the teachers get paid in your kids' schools that you can make such a statement?

Deborah said...

You want to know the figures Lion, I'll tell you mine. 18K a year for teaching third grade English in a girls yeshiva. That's with a Masters degree and I had some experience before taking the job. That's before taxes, which the school takes off. No health insurance or any other benefits. and no free tuition for my kids either if I would send them there. That's about $25 an hour before taxes and doesn't count all the work done at home.

Why am I working for so little? Until my kids are older a four afternoons a week job works with their schedule better. I'm home when they are home and I'm off from school when they are off. I'm keeping my resume current so I don't show a huge gap when I eventually go back and work outside of the yeshiva system. If ever I have a reason for not being at work--a sick child at home--the school doesn't give me any grief--the only benefit they give us. The money isn't all that much but it does pay for any extras or luxuries that we are going to have. And there are a few teachers in the school making less than I am, and a few, with years of experience who are making a little bit more. And we are pretty typical of what any school falling in the more right category pays.

Anonymous said...

Why am I working for so little? Until my kids are older a four afternoons a week job works with their schedule better. I'm home when they are home and I'm off from school when they are off.

It's understandable that there are tradeoffs for a job that suits one's lifestyle. Re the finances, you are probably saving on childcare costs. If you worked in a public school, you would need to pay for childcare to cover the weeks your kids are off, which are different that public school days off. You'd probably have to pay for that in after tax dollars.

efrex said...

If you like kvetching, oy do I have a book for you!Born to Kvetch, by Michael Wex. Half erudite language study, half absurd culture reference, all brilliant and fun.

ProfK said...

Thanks and then thanks again! Just ordered the book--can't imagine how a seasoned kvetcher like myself missed this one.

G6 said...

Will nobody join my anti-kvetching campaign???
Be that way.
I'll go into Yom Tov cheerful and happy, ALL BY MYSELF :P

Anonymous said...

I am a lapsed Episcopalian married to a pretty secular Jew (sorry!)and I read and enjoy your blog. I can kvetch with the best of them.
This weekend I did a marathon spring cleaning and got to thinking about the parallels between the religions - Passover and Easter - and our internal clocks which seem to compel us to clean in the Spring.
Your blog is a breath of fresh Spring air!