How do you like them Apples?

Go retro! Between combing through my old bedroom for crap to throw away and bringing up the Passover dishes for the big Switch, I managed to recover two blasts from the past.

The Passover dishes – for 20+ years – have always been stored in this old box:

Anyone else remember growing up with the Original Apple? Was it as pretentious then as it is now?

Under my bed I found the box that my old 2001 edition iBook came in. That iBook was a load of fun for a total of a few months before it became clear that its generation had a genetic disorder having to do with across-the-board faulty motherboards. Oh, and for those wondering, that whole megillah is the main reason why I have a strong aversion to Apple products.

But I still love the real thing… Nothing’s sweeter than an edible Macintosh.

Koala update: Eleven months.

We’re nearing a year and look at that, I have time to update (barely). I also have a lot of flashbacks about what this time last year was like. Childless, calm and well-rested. Ah, memories.

Informal poll: Is my sabra the only one to have ‘todah’ (thank you) be his first functional word? Just wondering if we’re doing it wrong.

Koala has always been a bit sensitive when it comes to strangers and loud noises (and especially when you combine the two) but the separation anxiety has spiked in the last month. To an uncomfortable degree. But people have been very understanding, which helps.

Koala got his first appreciable package from overseas; a mishloach manot from his Australian side. Unlike our forced present opening at Chanukah, he was actually able to scrounge and scavenge properly. We are so proud.

Having spent the last part of his eleventh month in the States, it is only fitting that he experienced his first fast food (nuggets and fries) with his temporary daycare nanny here. I was shocked at first, and then remembered that there is a good chance in a couple years he will definitely be eating Tivol more than once in a while.

And besides, he’s been getting his fill of Sesame Street while here, and to me Sesame Street is the entertainment equivalent of peas and carrots.

Remember what I said about having time to update? I have to cut this one short; it’s always less time than you think with a borderline toddler in tow.

Who needs aliyah?

Why bother making aliyah from New York City? In the span of four days, I’ve managed to:

  1. pass the Holon Grocery,
  2. find a metapelet originating from Ein Karem,
  3. drive behind a טוב טעם truck.

What’s next?

Also, I suppose it’s logical that my son’s first exposure to fast food was today in his American daycare (despite the Israeli nanny). It hurts my heart. But it was going to happen eventually.

Conversation peace.

So on Thursday, from 2 am Israel time to 5:30 pm New York time (with a 2-hour stop in Geneva), I experienced the worst trans Atlantic flight ever.

Koala was a wreck. This is a boy who, when overtired, refuses to make that better by actually sleeping. Ah, yes, all kids do that, you may be saying to yourself. They sure do. However, most kids conk out at some point. After ten minutes of crying. 20 minutes of wailing. 30 minutes of heaving.

What about 45 minutes straight of hysterical, tears streaming, snot flowing, eyes puffing, red faced bawling?

Twice?

Oh, and then not falling into more than a 15 minute sleep after that?

I think Koala cried for 30% of the two flights and slept for a total of one hour, 20 minutes of which were in my arms in the airplane bathroom.

Add in the stranger anxiety which included a new set of crying every time a friendly flight attendant or nice old lady gave him a coo.

I could go on and on but I’m too exhausted from, well, you know.

Anyway, after reaching my mom’s house by 6:30 pm yesterday I gave Koala a little sponge bath, tried to acquaint him with the house, fed him a bit of yogurt and was ready to put him to bed. I didn’t want to just put him down after he proved over and over his tendency towards being overwhelmed and frightened, so first I  took him into my childhood room and got into my childhood bed and laid him on top of me.

After 20 long hours of travel and tantrums and torture, we laid down and just fell into a sort of calm peace together. I watched his little body go up and down with my breathing.

After a minute, I heard Koala make his ‘heh’ noise, what he uses to engage us in conversation.

So I repeated, “heh.”

He responded, “heh.”

We go back and forth for a few minutes, just “heh” and “hmph” in different tones and pitches, sometimes right after each other, sometimes with pauses.

A conversation.

An actual conversation, and after all I went through I basked in the enjoyment of it: a pure moment. As if we were retelling the tale of all we had gone through together.

Part of me wanted to cry in manic happiness (and it wouldn’t have been that hard after the sky-high meltdowns). But after a few minutes of breathing and “heh” I started giggling softly. Koala went up and down on my chest and with that he giggled, too… and soon we were laughing together and it just kept going.

Of course, it’s things like that that make me forget the torture. But it was also pure Koala; it was me and another person on that bed, being ourselves with each other. He was just being himself, a separate real person. Talking to me.

And like a childhood sleep over, he eventually fell asleep, all the while offering last hushed “heh”s, in quieter and quieter tones.

Must be dreamin'.

There was ridiculous traffic on the dirt road leading up the hill towards Arafat’s compound. We each supposedly had meeting times but were all very late for them in any case. To the right was the beginning of the dusty compound and to the left was the beginning of the dusty hills.

To get into the compound you had to pass a rocket launcher. A rocket launcher in this case was a giant curved pipe coming out of the ground, with a rocket ready to launch, sitting at the bottom, underground. Every few minutes there were test preparations, when it would creep up towards the top with a comically-calm, low siren going off. It became a repeated ritual to endure while waiting on the road to pass it. The rocket’s track was supposedly to fly over the road towards Modiin but with each low siren we came to believe its target was much close than that.

At some point, my party made it through the compound and towards Arafat’s ‘house,’ trying not to look suspicious while passing through the dim halls and clay walls towards the back area. Arab teens in tight jeans and sweatshirts were passing through, looking and whispering but we knew they were instructed not to harm us.

The back area was carpeted and pampered with old wooden European furniture. Arafat was in a wife-beater and khaki shorts, holding a drink and inviting us to sit down to some pizza. We sat in a huddled group towards the end of the table, opposite his made up wife who held out her hand to each of us. Arafat told jokes for twenty long uncomfortable minutes and then I got up to excuse myself. I was late to pick up my child from daycare.

“Oh, you must have a gorgeous child,” Arafat’s wife crooned.

“I’m sure he will be a great pride to you someday,” Arafat croaked.

I nodded and thanked them and stepped out, past the teens who seemed all the more threatening now that I was alone, past the rocket launcher, which was once again just about ready to release a rocket, past the traffic which was starting to grow limp and wary as the sky went dark, and found my car parked backwards on a curved busy main road. My husband was there to meet me as I had instructed him and we jumped in. In one kind of quick maneuver I had the car out on the road and racing towards the airport.

Love/hate.

The thing about love/hate relationships is that eventually you come back to the hate.

It’s triggered by anything. Items on the news. The news reporters themselves. People on the street. Commercials on the radio. Things your friends say. Things your neighbors do.

So, if you haven’t guessed, I’m in the hate phase. Which is ok, because in a couple days I’m on the way over the ocean to New York for a few weeks.

Bibi and Biden can kiss my ass, and I’ll choose to temporarily ignore Ynet’s ridiculous ‘reporting’ on charedi affairs. I’ll keep  my non-Israeli passport close to me so it doesn’t get hijacked. I’ll turn the other way so I don’t have to see stupid spiked arse hair on my street or solo toddlers dashing across busy main streets in Beitar.

And most of all, I can shop at H&M in the States and not get trampled on, thankyouverymuch.

A baby in toe.

For the last 20 minutes of the drive home from shabbat in the Galil, Koala was hysterical in the car. It’s amazing how hysterical a car ride can make him, but last night was particularly bad. The heaving was worrying, and when we got home, I raced to get him out of his seat and get upstairs so I could calm him.

Going up the first set of stairs, I managed to trip and fall with Koala’s wet, red face in my arms.

A few things about falling with a baby: Firstly, I can remember what I saw and thought in that split second we went down together; it may as well have been five or ten whole seconds. It was also the most in-touch I’ve ever been with maternal instinct. I simultaneously saw my baby and the floor, and all I could think about was how not to have the two meet. It was like a checklist in my brain: baby’s head – check. Arm strategically placed underneath it – check. Hard floor – somewhere below us, better left unchecked.

In the end I had my arm in a way that his neck was on it and my arm fell first and his head bent back a little but didn’t hit the ground. Believe me, baby was tested and I was interrogated multiple times on how we fell and I know my gut would have made a different call if there was even a nano-doubt. But Koala was ok.

I picked us up and realized: a. he was ok, and b. I had broken a toe. I’m guessing that in our fall, I was focusing on him and didn’t prepare my bottom half for landing, and my foot got caught on the stair. As soon as I recognized he was ok, I realized I was not.

Take your index finger and middle finger and make a V… That’s what my big toe and index toe looked like. I felt like my body was turning alien, starting with my right foot, its second toe pointing out right, like my big toe had cooties.

Another baby-mother moment; after I picked us up, we looked at each other and he instantly stopped crying… I think he saw the look on my face before I even realized I had a look on my face – pure, penetrating, piercing pain.

It was just a toe and I’m very lucky. I breathed through it on the way to Jerusalem and after a relatively quick trip to the relatively new Terem at the tayelet, I was back home, buddy-taped and  feeding my sleeping, unhurt baby.

I’ve got crutches from Yad Sarah, a hafnaya to see an ‘orthodped’ on Wednesday, and an optimistic resolve that I’ll be ok to fly international alone with Koala in less than 2 weeks.

Motherhood inferiority complex.

More than once I’ve been told I’m a pretty laid-back first-time mom. I think when I got pregnant, I became so overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of what I was about to do and I kinda just let go of trying to even attempt to control the situation. I’ve just been able to take one day at a time, knowing that I’m in a powerful yet powerless position here.

And for the past ten months, I’ve been pretty much proven right. Being laid-back has been a great tool for dealing with new-mommy life.

I think, however, my metapelet may disagree. It could be all my own internalizing, but I can’t help but get the feeling she wonders where my head is at… Why am I not taking all of her advice? Why am I not rushing to the doctor every time he has a string of sleepless nights (every week, then?!)? Why am I not more upset that when I drop him off, he’s ecstatic to jump into her arms from mine?

On that last point… It really didn’t bother me until she started mentioning it every time. I’ve been happy with the way she is with him, pleased with the fact that I landed a  great daycare situation – a loving woman who genuinely cares for my kid. So what’s wrong with the fact that when we get to her house in the morning, he practically jumps out of my arms into hers?

But she’s mentioned it almost every day and somewhere it started grating on my nerves. How many times can you hear, That’s not nice, don’t you love your mama? before you start to shed your laid-backness and begin to get annoyed?

This week was different. I don’t know if Koala is just getting older, more aware, more contextual, or if Purim turned things upside down for real… But when I brought him in on Tuesday, he freaked out. He grasped on to me and the nail-digging in my skin was oozing with please don’t leave me. I laughed and tried again to pass him along to his metapelet and he burst out in tears. Finally, I kissed his head and just left.

It happened again the next day. When I came to pick him up in the afternoon, my metapelet said, “Well, finally, I was worried that he was leaving you too easily. This is a good thing,” with just the slightest hint of defensiveness. In my head, I rolled my mind’s eyes. Who’s this really about, anyway?

But I’m happy with myself. Another version of me would have been angry, jealous, emotional, put off, defensive about the whole thing.

Laid-back mommy me is just taking it one day at a time.