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.


Brie said...

comment comment comment. Why does no one comment? I totally have days/ minutes/hours/weeks like that. Sometimes life here is just plain old frustrating.

Yaffa/Yitz said...

I'll third that. Yitzy and I (when I was there -- which was most of the time) spent over 2 hours at the bank this morning. There are some days that make us want to get out of here, but they are usually followed by better days. Here's to tomorrow being better than today.

brenda said...

The other Israeli mother agreed with me that this will pass?!?! Maybe my Sabra husband has influenced me in more ways than I'd like to admit.
The traffic ticket thing is an unfortunate expense - maybe you can do like they do in America and move the date of the hearing hoping that the cop will not be available for the new time/date???
Glad to have gotten to spend a little time with you while you were here.
Oh-and lately, my yeridah regret level is pretty high. Our standard of living may be different here (the chugim still blow Eran's mind) but the stress factor for the logistics of carting kids around in a single driver family pretty much cancels that out. Grass is always greener I guess...

Leonard said...

Fortunately, an intelligent Mommy living in Israel can improve her facility with Hebrew, and I think that the other Israeli Moms will admire the effort of communicating even in unpolished diction. As for the hitting and biting- Sarah Rochel must first intellectually accept the issur. Then, she can be encouraged to resist her yetzer hara rather than give in to urges. She also needs to know the alternative of walking away.