Thursday, September 12, 2013

Some Good Old-Fashioned Fun with Hebrew

In honor of the 5th anniversary of our aliyah, a good old-fashioned Immigrant Parent moment:

Donny and I had to take Ariella to the orthopedist a few weeks ago. We entered the room, explained to the doctor why we're here, blah blah blah. He nodded doctor-ly and turned to Ariella, telling her (in Hebrew), "I'm going to ask you to do 2 things for me. One is a somersault. Your mother can help you if you want. Then I need to look at your back."

I was a little flummoxed. There wasn't really a ton of room on the floor for a somersault. I supposed it would help him evaluate her back and posture, but I was worried because the floor was kind of ... hard. Wouldn't that hurt? But, I reasoned, she is a good somersaulter, so I guessed it would be okay.

Ariella and the doctor looked at me expectantly. Were they waiting for me to "help?" What was I supposed to do, anyway? Push the chairs out of the way? Gently roll her over? I looked back at them and contorted my face into what I hoped was an expression of "Can't wait to see your awesome somersault! You can do it!" I prayed that would be sufficient. I added an encouraging nod.

"My hair," Ariella whispered. Huh? Did she want me to put her hair up so it wouldn't interfere with the somersault?

Then, the doctor, thankfully, blessedly, intervened (in English), putting us Immigrant Parents out of our misery.

"Her hair. I need you to put her hair up in a high ponytail so I can see her neck and back without her hair in the way."

Turns out, the word for "bun" (as in the hairdo, not the bread; needless to say, I am much more well-versed in foodstuffs than I am in hairdos) is "gulgul," very similar to the word for cartwheel, "galgalon." Hey, stop giving me that look! They ARE similar!

(Oh, and yes, cartwheel, not somersault - my confusion was further compounded because I constantly mix up the words for "cartwheel" and "somersault.")

So that is my humbling lesson, 5 years in. For every "paam shlishit glidah" that rolls so effortlessly off my tongue--mainly because there is no "reish" involved--there is a cartwheel that needs a bun. But it's okay. I make up for it with my winning facial expressions. (In addition to "Can't wait to see your awesome somersault!" there's "Happy laughing face although I have no idea what you just said," and "Pensive thinking face, so I hope you didn't just make a joke or ask me my name.")