(Ping Zhu)

In homage to the fabulous Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series, we offer you a public service: a guide to negotiating those rocky few weeks between the return of your child from summer camp and the start of school. It’s wise to be prepared for the worst; apparently in a courtroom situation, judges do not consider “but she wouldn’t stop singing ‘Ani v’Atah’ ” to be valid self-defense.

Scenario No. 1: Child keeps whining at parent to play Ga-Ga (Israeli dodgeball), but the temperature outside is approaching that of the planet Mercury.

Survival strategy:

1.  Distract child by sending him outside (alone) with a shovel to build Ga-Ga pit.

2.  Encourage child to play-act a game of Ga-Ga in air-conditioned home, using athletically minded Polly Pocket dolls as stand-ins for sweat-prone humans.

3.  Teach child about the power of the people by having child write letters to Nintendo demanding imminent production of Ga-Ga for the Wii. (Strategy will fail, thus providing the child an important lesson in democracy.)

Scenario No. 2: Child will not stop doing rikudiah (Israeli dance festival) dances in living room, causing trauma to cat.

Survival strategy:

1.  Hide iPod.

2.  Take child to community pool. Suggest child perform rikudiah dances underwater for extra aerobic benefit.

3.  Announce that the family is converting to whatever religion is in the movie Footloose and that dancing will heretofore be considered sinful. Hang framed photo of a vengeful John Lithgow on wall.

Scenario No. 3: Child will not stop lying on couch and moaning about missing camp friends.

Survival strategy:

1.  Have child write letters. (Parent should attempt to keep sarcasm out of voice when pointing out that in the previous four weeks child was not nearly so eager to write to her own parents, whom she has known for eight years.)

2.  Have child use telephone. (Parent should insert earplugs before handing child telephone, lest parent’s hearing be permanently damaged by lunatic chanting of Adah [age group] cheer at increasing volume.)

3.  Remind child of future Shabbaton reunion opportunities.

4.  When child demands immediate visit with friends or child will never ever come out of room or eat ever again, remind child that we do not negotiate with terrorists.

Scenario No. 4: Child (still lying on couch and moaning) refuses to do camp laundry or assist in household chores.

Survival strategy:

1.  Establish nikayon (cleanup) system similar to that of camp. Give child daily cleanliness score; promise ice cream for non-filth achievement.

2.  Tell child it is now color war (Maccabia) and her team will lose to the Blue Team if they do not clean up. Penalty for losing Maccabia is confiscation of Silly Bandz.

3.  If child does not comply, eat ice cream tauntingly in front of ice-cream-less child while wearing all her Silly Bandz.

Scenario No. 5: Child suddenly wants to do Birkat Hamazon (after-meal prayer) after every meal.

Survival strategy: Pray! This survival strategy has worked for our people for generations. Who are you to argue?