Vayikra 14:41. And he shall scrape out the house from the inside, all around, and they shall pour out the [mortar] dust from what they scraped, outside the city, into an unclean place.
We might not have tzara'at today, but this time of year some people go almost to such extremes, and not for the sake of a "parasha project". Ah the joy of Pesach cleaning!
Here is a secret: I HATE CLEANING!
Ok, maybe it is not a secret. But I do try to underplay my dislike for this task. Why? Why would I keep my hatred for cleaning a secret?
Because I don't want my kids to hate cleaning.
Children pick up on our likes and dislikes, even if we don't verbalize them.
Often when I get off the phone, the girls will say, "How is so-and-so?"
"How did you know who I was talking to?" I ask, surprised. Their reasons include my tone, facial expression, phrases used, and topics discussed.
Children observe everything. If I complain excessively about cleaning, there is no hope of me successfully encouraging them to do it. Then everyone will feel justified in their hatred for cleaning and no one will do it.
This extends to pretty much everything. If I complain to or in front of my kids about going to synagogue, cooking for shabbat, another person, or any religious practice, they will also think negatively of it.
As I mentioned last week and last year, rabbinic tradition connects tzara'at with lashon hara. Something consumes your body and even your house, as a consequence of 'negative speech.' Guarding your tongue, thinking carefully about what you say, is crucial in preventing tzara'at, a physical/spiritual condition. We don't have tzara'at today, but careless speech causes educational/emotional/social (and spiritual) consequences.
I still hate cleaning for Pesach!
I can't smile and scrub at the same time! And I can't lie about it.
I frame it and balance it.
Framing it means saying things like:
"I don't like everything about cleaning, but I love having a clean house!"
"Cleaning the whole house is going to be a lot of work! I am so glad I have such good helpers!"
"The cleaning can feel like a lot of work. Can you imagine what it was like to be a slave in mitzrayim?"
"Cleaning is not my favorite part of Pesach. _________ is. What is your favorite part?"
Keeping the bad attitude at bay for the kid's sake, will also keep it away for your sake. Armed with a baby wipe, small broom or rag, toddlers love to 'help'. Or you can try even younger.
In my preschool group and later at home, the children had art time to make signs. Taking a break from cleaning to do something relaxing and enjoyable is crucial.
Print, color in, laminate (optional), and the children are thrilled to put one on a completed room. They take pride walking past it, 'I made the sign, AND I helped get that room ready for Pesach. Oh! And I can't bring this cracker in.'
If you had spare time for a parasha project this week, the signs could easily be altered to "This Room is Tzara'at Free."
This really is just a cleaning break. You can even see the vacuum in the foreground.
And now back to my not-so-favorite activity...