As promised, here is a rundown of Ariella's fabulous sixth birthday party. As I mentioned, despite Ariella's requests, I did not acquiesce to throwing a birthday party for 15 - 20 of her closest friends, most of them from gan, most of them speaking only the Holy Tongue. Because of the ginormity of the class size here, even inviting "only the girls" from her class - which at SAR ended up being 5 girls - could be as many as 15, plus the other sundry friends she's accumulated. So I was naturally a little a-feared of entertaining 15-20 girls in Hebrew. Unless they all wanted to play the "Shalom! Mah Shlomech? B'Seder!" game. (Hours of entertainment for the entire family; email me for the directions.)
So instead, I said we would invite the families of her close friends and of course, the aunts. And so it was that at 5:00 on a warm Thursday evening, the Blochs, Kleins, Wolfs, and Balsams, with a special guest appearance of DADDY who came home early for the event, gathered in our apartment for fun and pizza.
The kids played, for the most part pretty nicely, the adults talked, for the most part pretty nicely. Then at 5:40 the GIANT pizza arrived. I am not joking. Giant Pizza makes the most GIANT pizza in all of Israel. You could have laid Amichai and Merav on top of one of the pizzas and still had room for Yisrael Meir, if he had decided to make the trip from Australia, and it might actually have been worth it just to see the GIANT pizza. We sat gawking for a few moments, then chowed down.
Then it was time for the famous cake which you've heard so much about (from me) and, if I do say so myself, it was as spectacular to eat as it was to look at. White cake with pink icing. Gotta love it. We sang happy birthday, Ariella blew out her candles and we ate cake and ice pops.
On Friday, after gan, we headed down to the Red Heights to see the Sassoons, who, like all Real Israelis, are leaving Israel for the summer. They will be doing "camp" things at "camp." Which camp, you ask? Well, if you have to ask, clearly you are not in the know. "Camp" is "camp" of course! (Digression alert: Donny and I, having never done the "camp" thing are always amused by how people refer to their youthful days at sleepaway camp as simply "camp," as if the rest of us should just know which camp it was. Moshava, Mesora, Morasha, Moratorium, Mordor - it doesn't matter. It's "camp" and shame on you for not knowing what they're talking about!) Anyway, we saw the Sassoons' new digs - they are now homeowners, kappayim to the Sassoons! - and hung out for a while. We came back and there was STILL way too much time before Shabbos. These Friday afternoons are loooooong.
Shabbat was HOT. My forthcoming book about Israel, "It's Nice in the Shade," will devote an entire chapter to "What To Do on Long Shabbat Afternoons When You Cannot Go Outside For Fear of Melting On the Sidewalk, and Leaving Behind Only Your Sandalim, Causing People to Shake Their Heads and Say, 'Alas, Alas, But We Did Warn Her Not To Go Out Between the Hours of 7:30 AM and 6:30 PM.'"
So the truth I did take the kids out to shul, because I preferred Melting on the Spot to hours of cabin fever. We went to shul, but we had to forego the traditional hang-out-in-the-park-after-shul portion of the day. The problem is the park is an extra few minutes out of the way, changing the walk back from a barely bearable ten minute walk to an absolutely unbearable, shadeless walk through the eleventh circle of hell. (I think if Dante had lived in Israel, he would have gone up to eleven.) Actually, it has been observed that the hottest point on earth is not inside a volcano, but on Rehov Yigal Yadin at 11:30 on a Shabbos morning.
After we came home and peeled off our clothing, we ate lunch, and then, because of the no park thing, it was only 12:30 by the time we finished. Damn. Wish I had written that chapter already, so I would know what to do. Here's what NOT to do: Try to sleep on the couch. ("Catch me in next season's TLC "How Not to Nap!") Every time I was about to enter Dozy-Land, someone cried or a tower got knocked over. The truth is, considering the length of the afternoon, the kiddies played together pretty nicely, but my afternoon nap was not to be. Later, I went to the shiur, Donny took the kids to the park, and the kiddies were - deep cleansing breath - in bed before Shabbos was over.
Today, I made 64 pita sandwiches. No, that was not a typo. Sixty-freaking-four sandwiches for gan tomorrow. Tomorrow, ladies and gentlemen, readers Loyal and otherwise, is Ariella's birthday party at gan. Because of the aforementioned ginormousness of the class size, birthdays are celebrated in threes. Tomorrow is Ariella, her friend Aiden, and a little girl Adi. But we don't just bring in a cake. Oh no. That is for the weak. We need to provide lunch for 32 ravenous kindergarteners (who are almost in kitah aleph, as I am reminded on a daily basis.)
Digression: On Thursday, a mere few days before the party, the morah suddenly remembered that she had never given me the party sheet. Now, presumably, the party sheet has been the same since September. The list is (and again, no typos here):
1. 32 pitas, cut in half, 3/4 smeared with chummus, 1/4 plain or with gevinah levanah (aka a travesty of cream cheese if there ever was one.)
2. Three of those stale-when-they're-fresh Osem cakes
3. Platter of vegetables
4. Sparklers (which is why many kindergarten morahs are missing fingers)
5. "Hafta'ot" which is Israeli for "crappy toy that your child brings home from gan and breaks within three seconds, five if you're lucky, and you wonder why anyone would create such a waste of plastic, let alone pay money for it, and then you wonder if the gananot have stock in China toy companies."
6. Paper plates
This is the standard party list. One would think, as I did, that they write one copy of this sheet, photocopy it 32 times at the beginning of the year, and hand it out as needed to the children. But no. Morah Maya handwrites these instructions 32 times throughout the year. Why??????
Anyway, the three of us doing this party are the three most clueless parents in gan. Even the Israeli mother was clueless. "What kind of hafta'ot should I get?" she wondered to me. I don't know, woman, I'm up to my arms in chummus! Figure it out!
I'm sure I've done something incorrectly in this whole enterprise, like mis-smeared the pitas, or bought the wrong cakes. Oh well. There's lots of extra gevinah levanah, so the kids can always eat that. [Retching noise.]