Monday, September 26, 2011

In Which the Children Rally and Ask Questions

(I know, I know, a post two days in a row, what can I say, I have a lot on my mind. Need to clear space for other things, like remembering why I'm standing in front of an open freezer with a vegetable knife. Blog = Pensieve for muggles.)

If my children ran the world...

Well, HOP would run 24/7 and there would be an endless supply of Minheret Hazman books and no one would get anything more or less than anyone else, but also....

I took the kids to the rally last night in Bet Shemesh. (Donny valiantly tried to join us, but the traffic was too much even for him.) For those of you not in the know, you can read about it here, and a little background here, 'cuz I'm too lazy to summarize.

The unfortunate situation naturally elicited many questions and comments from my children. Ariella was in the know already, having made a card for the girls of Orot a few weeks ago.

A round-up of their comments/questions:

"They are going against their own dat (religion) by being mean to other people." (Ariella)

"Don't they know מה ששנאו עליך אל תעשה לחבריך?" (Yaakov. What you don't like, don't do to other people. Normally Yaakov understands this to mean if Ariella hits him, he can hit her back, but I think last night he understood its deeper meaning.)

"The mishtarah (police) should just put the chareidim in the keleh (jail)." (Yaakov, like you didn't know that already.)

"But the girls are dressed tzniut!" (Ariella)

"The girls should wear long sleeves. This way, bees won't sting them." (Take a wild guess.)

"Can I play Angwy Bawds?" (Yaakov's all for justice - trust me - but the excitement of the rally didn't last long.)

"Where did they get the poop from?" (Ariella, after it was suggested we move to a different part of the street, because the sidewalk had been (deliberately) covered in excrement. "Maybe from the dogs," I said vaguely, because any other option was too disgusting to contemplate.)

So it really is a shame that Ariella and Yaakov aren't in charge of the situation. Ariella would simply explain they are going against Torah, Yaakov would throw them all in jail, and no one would get stung by a bee.

Anyway, I think it was a positive thing that we went and brought the kiddies. Also, the headline today in the Jerusalem Post stating that "1500 people showed up for the rally" sounded so much better than if it were, "1,496 people showed up for the rally."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Beginnings: Not All They're Cracked Up To Be

So the truth has come out.

After the novelty - new school! new books! new school supplies that aren't lost, dried out or stubby! - wore off, Ariella has realized that starting over is hard. (Especially when your BFF is in another school.)

Every day when I pick her up, she comes to the car with a droopy head and a sign: "Bad day." Or sometimes, "Sooper bad day." No one played with her at recess, someone was mean, one of the Very Annoying Boys pinched her. (Planted as we are very firmly in the she-woman boy hater's stage of life, the male members of her class are divided thusly: Very Annoying Boys and Slightly Less Annoying Boys.)

Of course, this just tore at my poor little heart. My baby is sad! Time for SuperMom to put on her cape and protect her little girl! I will banish the mean children to the Evil Planet of Zorkon, where there is no chocolate spread, where there's always a birthday party but it's never yours!

So I sprang into action. Called the teacher, who was very sweet and said she would make time to talk to Ariella.

Made playdates. She got the numbers of two girls in the class she was friendly with. Now I'm used to the whole Israeli-style call-for-a-playdate-at-3:30-and-Nahar-is-at-your-doorstep-at-3:35. But we’re in Angloland now, where you have to schedule playdates at least a week in advance. One is still in the planning stages.

Desperately threw money at the problem. Ariella mentioned that the Rinat Yisrael siddur she has is different than the Rinat Yisrael siddur the kids at school have. Plus, after a year and a half of loving use, her siddur is sadly in disrepair. She spent many an hour last year sitting at the dining room table, taping up the ripped and fraying pages.

I eagerly jumped at the chance to buy my child's happiness. "Yes! A new siddur is exactly what you need! Then you'll have lots of friends and everyone will play with you at recess and you will be happy again and I won't feel guilty!"

So we went to the bookstore. I wasn't totally sure what made the new siddur different than the one she already had. But Ariella had done some sleuth investigative work. "Do you have the Rinat Yisrael siddur with 649 pages?" she asked the employee.

Sure enough, he brought one down. She checked the pages - 649 - and we happily walked out with our purchase.

She then mentioned she wants to play "goomi" (Chinese jump rope) at recess but can't find her rope. So I ran (drove) to the store as fast as my little feet (big car) could carry me. Plunked down 15 shekel for some underwear elastic. (Digression: I learned last year that you do not buy your goomi at the toy store, but at the hardware store, tie it in a knot, and bam — instant jumprope.)

Still, despite the 649-page, tape-free siddur and a large piece of undies, she was STILL not happy. "I ask kids to play with me and they say no and then five minutes later I see them playing with someone else." Just drive the screw in a little harder...twist it...yep, that's it.

Then I remembered the advice of my old administrator. (SAR peeps, tell Milly I said thanks.) She always advised parents of new kids to come in with some fabulous snack, as sort of an ice-breaker. Kids like food, so if you're the kid with the awesome snacks, BINGO, you've got friends.

Now, here, they sort of frown on bringing in junk food, since kids are supposed to bring a healthy aruchat eser. And I didn’t think sending in a giant vat of tuna sandwiches was going to win her any friends.

So we went to the toy store. I told her she could pick some funky markers, a couple decks of cards, etc. to play with during recess. Surely the kid with the cool gel pens would attract some friends.


She came back from school the next day: "Mommy, you're a kosemet (magician)! It worked! I had a good day!"

All together now....AWWWWW!

And she even made a shanah tovah card for me with her cool gel pens.

Those pens are awesome. Hmmm, I wonder if Ariella will play with me at recess...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Overheard at the Roses....

"Stop hitting your brother on the head!"
Which wouldn't be so remarkable, except it's directed at the 16-month-old.

"Don't drink tushy water!"
Because really, what is bathwater, anyway?

"Stop reading!"
If Ariella was a Looney Toon, she would be reading her book and walk right off the cliff, plummet 1,000 feet, be momentarily covered in a dirt cloud, then dust herself off and continue walking. Without ever taking her eyes off her book.


"Mommy! The kvutzot are in this book!"
At Yaakov's gan, the children are divided into groups. Each group has the name of one of the Hebrew vowels. Yaakov was amazed to discover all of the groups congregated together in one of Ariella's books.

[7 a.m.] "What's for dinner?" Answer is followed by: "Oh."

"Brother Car!"
Yaakov and I enjoy finding other Mitsubishi Grandises (Granden?) on the road and shouting this aloud in exictement. Also: "Twin Brother Car!" when the fellow Grandis is also white.

Loyal Readers, what are YOUR soundbytes?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yaakov the Turtle: Now, With the Answers You've All Been Waiting For!

Yaakov is a man of few words. He is from the "What did you do today nothing who did you play with no one" school of thought. So it is very hard to get any information out of him. I drop him off at gan in the morning, I pick him up in the afternoon; what goes on in between is anyone's guess.

There are clues, sometimes. I know he plays outside because his shoes are filled with about two inches of sand every day. I can deduce the days they had playdough or clay because his fingernails are black and green.

I try to ask specific questions. "Did the ganenet read a story today?" But perhaps he attends the Mossad gan, because he often answers, "I don't want to tell you." Sometimes he comes home with a sticker on his shirt. "What's that sticker for, Yaakov?" I ask excitedly. "Singing," he replies vaguely.

He's also made some new friends this year, although he doesn't know their names. ("I keep fawgetting to ask them!") But every once in a while, we'll be talking about something, and all of a sudden something will click and the turtle will emerge from his shell to relate a parsha story or a fact about the chagim.

This morning, the turtle emerged. "You want to hear something funny about gan?"
My entire body snapped to attention. Easy now, I warned myself, if you act too excited he'll slide right back in.
"Sure," I replied with forced casualness. "I love funny stories."

"You know those wocks that tell you what way to go? We have those at gan!!!"

Huh. I had not one iota of clue what he was talking about. But if you ask too many questions or if you don't understand, he gets frustrated at having to explain himself. I tried asking again, but he repeated the same thing: "Wocks that tell you what way to go."

Donny hit upon a clever workaround. "Oh yeah? That's interesting. And where else have you seen those rocks before?" Aha!

Silence. "I don't know."

And the turtle slowly retreated. When we go to gan tomorrow, I'll have to (casually) ask Yaakov to point out those navigational wocks. And then Yaakov and I will have a good laugh.

******The answers are in!******

I asked Yaakov to point out these wocks to me at gan. We looked out of the window into the chatzer. They looked I was still stumped. I tried to elicit more information out of him. (At this point, figuring out what he was talking about had become a personal challenge.)

"You know, they're red and green and orange. And me and Ariella like to stand on them."

Still stumped. I had bought them a rock-painting art kit over the summer, but I don't particularly recall that the rocks were stand-able.

Later, when describing the situation to Ariella, in hopes that she could help demystify the wocks, I suddenly hit on the answer.


When we went hiking during our vacation, the trail markers were often painted on rocks. Which gives us rocks, that are red, green and orange. He and Ariella liked to stand on them. And, most importantly, they tell you where to go.

Later, I said to Yaakov, "So those are the kinds of rocks we saw when we were hiking, right?"

"Yes," he replied, in a "isn't it obvious and why are we still talking about these rocks?" sort of way.

I, for one, can finally rest easy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ramblings...You Know You Wanted Some!

1. I started a post called "The Lazy Mom's Guide to Parenting," but then realized it was really just another name for "Leave Me Alone So I Can Read the Paper."

2. This week was our 3rd aliyahversary (well, everyone except Nadav's). That's right, 3 years ago this week we landed in Israel, with bad Hebrew and crying children. And now, 3 years later... well, we've drunk a lot more shoko.

Just kidding of course! We had a baby, bought an apartment, shipped an oven! Our Hebrew has improved, the children's English has de-proved, and the children don't cry all the time. They also fight and call each other names.

3. Speaking of which, yet another day has ended with me hauling off my prize fighters to their respective corners, while they mutter "Stupid Awiella" and "All I was doing was...." And then fervently hoping they do something really amazing with their lives, like find a cure for lice or invent a broom that sweeps rice and pasta off the floor without turning it into little gray dust mites. And then I will look back on this time and laugh. Ha. Ha. Ha.

4. Nadav demonstrated today what happens when you stick your fingers in your sandwich to scoop out the cream cheese, then wipe those same fingers in sand and smush it all in your hair.

5. Heblish is not all bad. Yes, it makes for some funny-sounding children:

Who will save on us when you go out?
Before two weeks...
OR red OR blue
How is he called?
You by yourself don't even know!
Mommy's Matan (my personal favorite)

But sometimes, it makes the children sound downright intelligent:

For what is this present?
To where are we going?
Everyone who wants should raise his (not "their") hand!

6. Well, that's all for now. Wishing everyone a good ToTh Festival.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

School's In!

A round-up of the beginning of the school year:

Ariella (who has transferred to the school in our new neighborhood, although we don't live there yet. Yes, this move has blown the mind of most Israelis. In any case, this means new school, teachers, kids).

[rolling eyes] Yeah yeah, new school, new kids, whatever. It's SCHOOL! I LOVE school! Textbooks! And math! Yippee!!

Oh God, Daddy wants to walk me in the first day. Must set him straight. "I am not a baby, Daddy. I'll go in myself." (Ed. note: She and I had been in her classroom all of one time. She had no qualms about going in herself. I, on the other hand, got lost picking her up.)

Yaakov (in gan chova, aka kindergarten)

Yoyoyo, I'm all hooked up with my Mickey Mouse tik and aruchat eser! And look! It's my gan peeps! Time to go dig in the sand! Whoo-hoo! Senior year!

Nadav (first year in mishpachton)

Whee! Mommy and I are playing in this new house! What fun! Such wonderful toys! Wait - is that Mommy kissing me goodbye and leaving???? WAAAAHHHH!! She will never ever come back! I will be here forever! She has abandoned me!!!! [Later...] She's back! She came back for me! Oh glory be! She's picking me up! I shall never detach myself from her hip again!

Next day: Uh oh. We've entered the Place again. No way, she's not tricking me into sitting down and "playing" with her. I know what that means. Oh no! She's leaving again! WAAAAHHHH!!! She will never, ever come back! I will be here forever! She has abandoned me!!!! [Later...] She's back! She's back! Pick me up! PICK ME UP NOW! Heh heh heh, I got her now, just got to direct her to the door, that's it, easy does it, and....see ya later, suckers!

So all in all, off to a good start. Even Nadav appeared to have a fairly good day today at gan (his first full day). And by "fairly good," I mean he was not curled up crying miserably in the corner when I came to get him.

And even when he cries a lot, they don't seem to lock him in the bathroom because the crying disturbs the other children, which is what happened to this blogger I know when she was little. And there's also no little boy named Mark telling him that his Mommy is never, ever coming back. Which also happened to this same blogger. Which is why she feels very bad leaving a crying baby at mishpachton. But she knows he'll be okay, and that eventually, he, too, will roll his eyes when his Mommy wants to walk him in.