By Phyllis J. Lubin

“I’m so scared.”

“There is nothing to be scared about, Yuss. You have done this before.”

“Don’t want to go high up.”

“I don’t think you will go very high up . . . maybe just a little.”

“I’m so scared. No surfing!”

“But you have done this before, Yussie. You love the ocean!”

Usually when Yussie makes up his mind about something, it’s almost impossible to change it. But sometimes, if you simply go with the flow, he changes his mind on his own. A few weeks ago, Yussie was scheduled to join Bais Ezra for a weeklong trip to Camp Kaylie. We had been preparing and reminding him for weeks, and yet the morning of his departure he announced: “Not going to Camp Kaylie. Canceled!”

“But Yussie, you are all packed. Remember we sent all your luggage to camp yesterday morning! You can’t cancel Camp Kaylie now.”

“Not going to Camp Kaylie. I canceled!”

“But we told them you were coming! Yussie, all your clothes are there!” I sort of calmly explained.

“Changed my mind. Not going. Go out for breakfast?”

Of course, he hadn’t changed his mind about the promise of going out for breakfast. I called in the heavy artillery–his four sisters–to try and change his mind. In the meantime, I frantically texted Shira, his service coordinator from Bais Ezra, about our dilemma. I explained that I just can’t force him to go, and yet we sent most of his clothes there.

It was actually Yussie’s English birthday that day, and we had planned on not only taking him out for breakfast, but for lunch as well, before the Camp Kaylie departure. But he only knew about breakfast at that point.

Somehow, after much discussion, the girls seemed to change his mind without him realizing it. I use that tactic too–sometimes even with my husband. I sent a new text to Shira (I haven’t erased it yet) that read as follows:

“I think I might have spoken too soon . . . now he thinks he might go if we go out for lunch first. Today is actually his birthday and we were planning a special lunch anyway! I guess it will be a game-time decision.”

A few hours later I sent the following text:

“Yuss changed his mind and went. Let’s hope for the best!”

That’s the thing with Yussie. He, like any other person, needs to decide things for himself, and if he doesn’t, he just won’t do it. I was hoping in this situation that when he arrived at the beach and saw all his classmates, he would forget about his fears and join in the fun.

This past Wednesday, September 12, was the Surfers Healing Event ( in Lido Beach. Yosef attended with his class from South Side Middle School, and the teacher had planned a fun beach day full of exciting activities. This is Yussie’s second year attending with his class, and his third time experiencing a surfboard with this wonderful organization. At that point I realized that even if Yussie doesn’t change his mind about the actual surfing, he would surely enjoy all the events that his teacher had planned.

At 6:30 that morning, Yussie was already vociferating about his fears. Fortunately, Lea came to the rescue and distracted him. September 12 is Lea’s birthday. In honor of the day, her eldest sister brought home a surprise for the night before: Seymour Sunshine Lubin.

The newest member of our family is about 4 inches long with blond hair and I’m not quite sure the color of his eyes because they are so small. Seymour is a teddy bear hamster, and this present surely has made Lea’s birthday special. Lenny and I were worried about such an animal living in our home but it has already won our hearts!

Lea somehow knew just how to distract Yosef Binyamin from his surfing fears to concentrate on our furry little fellow. As an incentive for getting up and swiftly getting dressed, Lea promised a relatively close-up glimpse (we are not permitted, according to the hamster mavens at the pet store, to take Seymour out of the cage for a full week, to familiarize him with his new surroundings.) But they got close enough. My youngest daughter is certainly growing up into a mature young lady. The care and concern she shows Yussie is heartwarming.

And so 8:30 that morning finally arrived (Yussie had requested from my husband that they leave precisely at 8:30 a.m.) and Yussie and Leib set off for the excursion to Lido. At 9:47 I heard from my husband that Yussie joyfully joined his class and seemed truly excited about the event. The smiling faces from all the staff present from his school along with the staff from Surfers Healing reassured Lenny that all would be well. Yussie’s smiling face (with modern technology, I was able to see it on my phone almost immediately) reassured me that all was well. My husband handled the drop-off on his way to work, and I was scheduled for the pickup.

The weather was perfect for a day at the beach. My workday went swiftly with the anticipation for my outing. When I arrived on the scene I saw all the Surfers Healing volunteers assisting all the children. There were no sad faces on the beach that morning! (If you visit, you can even catch a glimpse of Yussie in the short video that was taken at the event.) Yussie greeted me with the hugest smile and announced, “I’m a surfer!” v

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Rosenfeld & Maidenbaum, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children: Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea and now a new daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at

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