Everything was set: the plane tickets, the booked chalet not far from the slopes, the car, the packed suitcases, and most importantly, our eldest, Natan, who was to look after Akiva while Ira and I went for a special celebratory week in the French Alps in honor of my birthday and our 25th anniversary.

Murphy’s Law prevailed or so it seemed at 4am when Akiva woke up at 4am with a major stomach upset. After we settled him back into bed – ours – and cleaned the bathroom and started the laundry, we laid in bed on either side of him, willing him to better health by morning.

Between 7:30-8:00am we had a ‘conference at the mound’ with both older boys – Gabe was home from mechina for the weekend. Ira had already checked the flights and our accommodations. It seemed like we could delay the whole trip for a day – leave Monday and return home the following Monday. I was tired, totally beat and just not sure what to do. Akiva, thankfully, is a healthy boy regardless of his special needs and usually bounces back nicely but there was no way to know how this thing would play out and how many days at home he might need before returning to school. Being sick was not what we had bargained for, of course. When we made these plans, we didn’t want to burden Natan with a sick, younger brother, especially when we’re talking about stomach stuff. Akiva is not fully toilet trained – it’s no small issue, especially when he’s sick.

After much analysis – including conversations with my two sisters –  and thankfully, Akiva woke up at one point so we were able to make a general assessment of him – not too bad, that was the good news – we decided to go ahead with our plans. The big boys felt relaxed overall and Gabe would spend an extra day at home keeping Natan and Akiva company before returning to his mechina program the next day. Natan, although not sure how it would all play out, seemed to feel that it would all work out.

We left at 9:30am, not sure we had made the right decision or not but knowing that Akiva was in capable hands. Natan send regular SMS and email reports and Akiva ended up spending Sunday and Monday home from school – Natan was pleased that Akiva was seemingly bored and ready for action by Monday night, a sure sign of good health.

The skiing? It was wonderful and we missed having all of our boys with us. We noted people with physical disabilities skiing on the mountain and wondered if Akiva might be able to join us on a future trip. We always skied as a family in the US – Vermont resorts were particularly welcoming to us and to Akiva, who still talks about Nisei and Bronwyn, two lovely counselors on two different trips to Killington. We came home to a tired Natan, who’d also hosted two aunts, an uncle, and his grandmother on Shabbat – don’t worry, he didn’t have to do too much cooking.

What’s the moral of the story? We have good kids. Sure, we know that. Akiva does bounce back nicely from illness. We know that too and are grateful. Maybe that sometimes you can forge on ahead even when it all seems impossible and still manage those moments that are so desperately needed in life – like vacation.


By Beth Steinberg, Shutaf Co-Founder
February 2012