Sunday, April 25, 2010

Two frustrations, or 'why for twenty seconds I wanted to move back to America'*

*Well, maybe ten whole minutes... in two pieces of 9:30 and 30 seconds. But that's it.

In reverse order, the second frustration is the 500 NIS (!) ticket I got this morning. A road was closed due to a suspicious object, after being in standstill for many minutes I turned around... and crossed a solid white line, thus disturbing the space-time continuum and catching the notice of the police stationed just behind me, waiting for such sinners to fall into their hands. Uch. When they asked me why I did such a thing, I wished to have the glibness of word and ease of manner that would succeed in getting them to let me off with a warning (worked when I got pulled over for speeding at 16 in Bellaire in Houston!). But no, they let me off with a 500 NIS ticket. Booger.

But the initial frustration is this: As blogged last, Sroch's been having a physical violence issue in school, basically with one particular child. I've spoken to all her teachers about it, spoken to her, but hadn't yet spoken to the other child's mother (Sroch not being entirely blameless, I didn't want to do the whole "hey lady, YOUR daughter is teaching MY daughter to hit and bite" phone call, because I did not know it was true).

(Some details here changed to preserve anonymity.) Anyway, shabbos afternoon, we're all outside, and there are a few other friends of Sroch's all playing - and that one girl. I'm watching warily, but Sroch is keeping her distance and they're playing more or less nicely. I'm dealing with Llama, look away - and I hear screams. Thankfully not my girl's, but that one girl pulling the hair and pinching another girl. At that moment I am unable to physically intervene, so I holler that one girl's name in a loud shout (and forgetting any Hebrew words that would mean 'stop' or 'don't do that!' or 'hey kid, lay off, wouldya?'), then encourage the other girl to run away.

Not my finest moment, perhaps, as evidenced by the ten-minutes later appearance of the mother of that one girl, who perhaps was displeased to hear her daughter's name bellowed to the whole neighborhood (sorry!) which dislodged her from her upper-story apartment in her slippers (sorry!) and did I mention she's like 12 months pregnant? (sorry! sorry!).

Anyway, so the mom and I talk. Well, she talks. And here's my frustration: I only understood about 70, 80% of what she said. She may have been upset with me initially, but it dissipated, and we talked for like 10 minutes, winding up in "this will pass."



But that was an important conversation, and I couldn't get it all. There are things I might have said (how do you say 'vindictive' in Hebrew?), but I couldn't. There are things she said I think may be completely inaccurate - but I wasn't positive what she said, so I didn't counter them. There are things I could have added - and I wasn't mute, I did speak as well, and she seemed to understand me - but all the nuances, the right diplomatic tone, all of those things... I don't have them.

I have been assuming my Hebrew would grow organically, and to some extent it has. But it is NOT fluent, and culturally even less so (like in the case of nuance) and moreover spoken Hebrew is not intuitive for me (had our conversation been an email, I would have done much better).

And so I was frustrated, and somewhat despondent, and somewhat ready to move to an English-speaking country, where my children might be raised in a completely different type of lifestyle than I want but by golly, I could yell at the other children.

But - like the mom said, this too will pass, and my Hebrew will improve and my children will grow up and not hit, blah blah blah. This is just another facet of my mommyhood. I'm not going back to ulpan tomorrow (who has time?) but I will make more of an effort.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Maybe it's my fault

Why is it that both - both! - of my daughters are currently sporting abrasions on their faces, direct results of fights (!) they've been getting into at school?!

Sroch and another girl adore playing with each other, but for some reason they will all of a sudden have a FLARE UP resulting in things like bite marks on either side of Sroch's neck (!), a pinch on her cheek (!), and who knows what else. Alas, speaking to the teacher, this is not one-sided either. Thank God, it's not with all her friends, and thank God again never with her sister - but just this one girl (well, maybe two).

While a block away, the metapelet tells me Shulamis keeps hitting the other children, and sometimes they hit back. And she keeps telling her no and telling her to make nice and so on, but but but...!

WHAT are we doing wrong here? We NEVER hit the kids - not even slapping their fingers away from fire, needles, toilet cleaner, nuthin. They don't watch Looney Tunes! They've never played with GI Joe! We've been telling them 'no hitting' and 'no biting' their entire lives - in two languages!!

Shulamis, of course, when scolded, tends to laugh.

Sroch, when presented with her crimes, explains it's because "she always comes over to me and wants to play with me when I don't want to play with her! She's always hurting me so I don't want to play with her." - this despite Sroch asking to go to the girl's house and spending much time there together. So I ask - but Sarah Rochel, last shabbos you played at her house for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, then you had fun without hurting - "no, even then we was fighting, but then we were playing."

... I am somewhat beside myself. Shulamis will grow out of it. I dimly recall in Sroch's toddlerhood her metapelet mentioned that she hit a lot also (I believe I have tried to forget).

But this situation with Sarah Rochel is beyond me. Separate them? Very hard to enforce - they're in class together and live nearby, and moreover, that doesn't address Sroch's critical need to learn NOT to hit (or dear Lord, bite!) even under extreme duress.

... Maybe it's my fault for being so thankful for girls, that they aren't known as being a violent gender. Methinks me spoke too soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two things Llama learned today (well, three)

1) to say "plee" when she wants some of your food (the kid has food radar - whatever I'm eating, she wants, irregardless of her finishing her own dinner moments before)

2) to run, which has led to

3) to fall down flat on her face. Ow. No permanent damage, B"H, bli ayin hara

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shulamis: the 18 months old word list

Ehpay - (formerly 'eigo') airplane

Sahss - (formerly 'gox') socks

Sues - shoes

Agee! - again

Mo / mohr - additional quantity requested, thank you

Appa - apple, or possibly any other fruit item, including occasionally...

Nana - banana

Kikin - chicken

Tsee - cheese

Dhow - down, as in "put me dhow"

Unh! Uhn! - up, as in "pick me up"

Nah - now

No - I don't want that now even a little bit, thank you! (However, if you ask, "Shulamis, do you like to say no?" she points to her nose. Delicious.)

Hat - hat

Tee, nose, teak, ed - parts of the face

Toes - our favorite body part on self and others

Elmo - little red furry monster or your elbow

OOKIE!!! / ookie - Cookie Monster / just a cookie

Caht / Iitty caht - cat

Meoh - what a cat says

Duggie - dog, cow, horse, donkey, sheep, etc

Hochel / Sochel - Sarah Rochel

Abba - Abba, or any bearded male, or any signature Abba item, such as a talis

Mommy - Mommy, or my shetyle

I - herself. Isn't that impressive?

Bubbie / Zayde - Bubbie / Zayde

Sata / Baba - Savta / Saba

Llama - not herself, but the four-legged animal. Of course.

SENTENCES! Last shabbos Shulamis made two whole sentences, "I wan Hochel?" and "Wanmore nah." Impressive, no?? Beyond.


I have gotten out of the habit of writing my own blog, but overly much in the habit of reading other people's blogs.

Must. Stop. Going to bed at 2 AM.

So I'm building a slideshow of pictures, which will take a great deal of time. In the meantime, I'll try to go write something witty and adorable.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back to Sarah Rochel's 4th birthday

Doing a little twilight blogging over here, as the sun finishes setting (going to America, that is) and my children slumber in their peaceful ohmigoshcollapse-sleep. Thank God, they both had wonderful, full normal schedule days - once I shook them both awake at 8 AM, and now at 7:15 PM, they are blissfully unconscious.

This may have to do with their fatigue after being awake from 11 PM to 3 or 4 AM last night. Hmm. Funny thing, jet lag.

I wanted to (finally) post pictures from Srochel's fourth birthday party - I know, about time!

Birthdays are a BIG deal in Israeli gans, as they should be. They do three girls at once, and have a series of activities, which may or may not depend on which songs they have. Hmm.

Here is Sroch having just come through the 'shaar' (gate) that all birthday girls come through. Of course.

With her birthday bag of goodies (a nice laminated 'prayer for children' for me (birthdays always include gifts for the mother - as they should!) and her own treats, and note her crown with 4 roses on it (cause she's four!).

One of the songs was about having as many years (or was it mitzvos?) as a mushroom has spots. Uh-huh. As you see, the birthday girls are in the middle doing the relevant thing while the relevant song plays and the relevant non-birthdays girls spectate.

They also did some odd maypole hoop and ribbon thing, danced with the keys of briut (health), osher (joy/contentedness, also pun of wealth) and nachat (you know, nachas :)), and of COURSE they get to jump up the rungs of a ladder (well, a representation of a ladder - on the floor) as they 'hop hop hop' (that's the Hebrew for 'hop hop hop') up to another year. That was Sroch's favorite part, I think.

And they get to dance with their mommies in the circle too. Aw. They get picked up on a chair (hey, one of the other girls' chair went WAY higher than my daughter's!), get to play the FANCY instrument (i.e. the triangle) while other girls play the lesser ones, and of course, give out the treats, namely cake in gan, candy to take home, and a toy too. Loads of fun had by all!

And now it's really dark out, and I must get to work. At this rate, I'll be blogging about Pesach sometime around August.

Friday, April 09, 2010

On returning home...

It's 8:30 in the morning, Friday after our return (we got in about 4:15 yesterday afternoon). Sroch is in gan - yes, I did wake her up at 7:30 to get her there at 8, despite her being awake last night from approximately 2-5 AM. Llama is still asleep, despite sleeping a bit more than Sroch last night. I am about to have my first caffeine of the day, but surely not the last.

It is wonderful to be home. I cannot think of anywhere besides here we'd be as comfortable as my parents' and inlaws' homes - but that said, it is great to be back to our own beds, toilets, kitchen (not that there's anything in it), and so on. But we had a wonderful time in America.

The culture shock I have the more I realize the differences between America and Israel - brought out most when I walk around those neighborhoods and look at the houses, or go grocery shopping - still leads me to the same comforting conclusion: Israel is the place for us. Oh sure, I'd love a three story house with aluminum siding and big oak trees and a swing set and two SUVs in the driveway... for a while. But I love that when I took Sroch to gan, I passed 13 different people I knew. I love that my home is small enough I know where everything is in it (well, um, pretty much). I love that my children don't take swings for granted. And I kinda love that I don't take finding sweet potatoes in stock in the grocery store for granted either.

Welcome home, us. May our jet lag be brief, our unpacking be swift, our organization be great and our return to schedules uneventful.