The Israeli summer daycare problem.

I’m getting desperate. I don’t like me when I’m desperate.

Here’s the deal: I have a wonderful metapelet. There are always pros and cons, things you wouldn’t do yourself, things you wish you didn’t know. But overall, she’s great and my son adores her (and she adores him).

Which is why it’s been easy to overlook the fact that she ends her year at Tisha B’Av, or (this year) July 20th. I’m hearing this is very early; others go until the second week of August. Until now, I assumed that all daycares did that.

I’m realizing now that I’m quite screwed; instead of three weeks of no daycare for my kid, I’m looking at six.

Seriously, I don’t comprehend the August hiatus. Everyone needs a vacation, yes, but why wouldn’t some metapalet out there want to take advantage of the all the non-teacher working moms out there who are desperate for daycare in the summer? I’ll pay more. I’ll pay double. I have no choice.

I can’t take off for six weeks. I can’t take off for three either. Working from home five days a week is not an option. I have no available family here. My husband works.

Please weigh in: What’s a working Israeli mother to do?

The Russian haircut problem.

Question: Why is it that whenever an Israeli cuts my hair I end up with a Russian haircut?

Note, I don’t mean the crazy short, hot-red kind. I mean the long layer in the back, thick shorter layer in the front.

Also note, it seems to be a universal phenomenon, no matter if the hair cutter is a 30-something hot guy or a middle-aged fraicha mother.

Just curious.

That’s a lot of Keret.

Have I mentioned that I totally dig Etgar Keret?

In college I took a creative writing class that focused on ‘short short stories.’ Like, really short. Micro short. Blogger short.

Ever since reading The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God I realized that this guy was doing what I wanted to be doing with short stories. And so, I started following him. And everything he’s written…

…in English. Until last week. I had it on my to-do list to grab a copy of צנורות, Keret’s first published collection of shorts, in Hebrew. I’ve only read the translated stuff and I thought if anything, his stuff will be a breeze to read in Hebrew.

Last week I stopped by צומת ספרים (yes, there is another popular Israeli bookstore chain aside from Steimatsky!). The store was having a ‘buy 1 get 2′ sale. I knew Keret’s new book came out recently but I also knew there was no way it would be part of the sale. What I found out shortly after knowing all that other stuff was: three of his older collections were… so I brought a copy of each up to the cashier.

She looked up at me and exclaimed, “Oh, isn’t he just amazing?! Have you read his new one yet?” I told her I’ve actually only read the others in English, so now I’m going to try them in Hebrew. She gave me props and told me the new one was also on sale, 30 shekel, how could a diehard not pick that up?

So I did. Four-books-for-the-price-of-two later and I’m steeped in Etgar Keret short storyness for a while.

By the way, I was right. His stuff is a breeze to read in Hebrew. So if you’re an oleh wondering where to start with that, Keret is a grand place. And I highly recommend צנורות.

Koala update: Fourteen months.

Word of the month: cheeky.

Looks like Koala has started conquering the Big Three… climbing, walking, speaking.

The climbing must be something he’s known to do for a while; I just never let him go up the stairs in the apartment until this week. But he managed stairs a couple weeks ago at a friend’s place and around the same time he accomplished the Mount Everest of Babyland: the coffee table.

Apparently Koala has been taking steps at the caretaker’s place for a month already but wouldn’t give us a peek at home until two weeks ago, when the boy walked ki’ilu a mile for… cheese. Not that I blame him.

There are quite a few words in Koala’s speaking vocabulary; some examples include duck, ball, עוד, and dis. That last one? Yeah, that’s dis, as in this but his mom is from New Yawk.

Oh, and he definitely comprehends the word no. As in, ‘no, don’t touch the garbage can.’ ‘No, you can’t go there.’ ‘No, these are adult toys, not baby toys…’ (that one always trips me up; I’m talking about laptops and cell phones, guys).

So, with great freedom comes great discipline, and with discipline comes… the tantrum. The body-slam to the floor, fists pounding, head down cry-out.

Also, I just love that when he wails it’s in the form of ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma

With all the cheek and all the development, not only is Koala’s personality shining through but I’m starting to realize that while the emotional and physical roller coasters of having a child left the dock ages ago, the psychology of parenting is starting to build momentum down the track. The ways we choose to teach, encourage and discipline our boy are going to have lifelong effects on him. This is the part where you <insert-future-therapist-joke-here>.

But I’ve always enjoyed a roller coaster ride.

Conflict management.

It’s probably only appropriate that at the graduation ceremony for Bar Ilan University’s Conflict Management and Negotiation program, I witnessed my first Israeli-Arab walkout.

I studied in the program the same years as a secularish Arab girl from around Uhm Al Fahm. She’s probably around my age, with an assertive nature and a big, warn smile – the kind that involves her eyes. She participated in class, she joked with the rest of us.

It was nice to see her at the ceremony. We nodded hellos and I noticed her family was present to support her – her religious-looking parents, her secular sisters and her little nephews. With one of her nephews, hanging around where I stood in the back of the room, I played peekaboo. He’s probably a few months older than Koala and just as charming.

As it always goes at the end of an Israeli ceremony, the musicians got ready to play Hatikva, and everyone stood. The Uhm Al Fahm clan stood… and politely, inconspicuously, walked out. As my classmate walked past, I looked up at her and matched her sigh-resembling smile.

Who am I? What do I believe? A degree in conflict management taught me a lot, but living in Israel taught me, perhaps, too much. Even if I left this country tomorrow, I could never go back to who I was before I lived here. I don’t know if it’s living next to the green line. Or that it’s become normal to occasionally shop alongside Israeli-Arabs, stand on line with Israeli-Arabs. I don’t know if it’s being exposed to a class of people who look just like me, only… only…

She chose to attend Bar Ilan, an openly religiously oriented and Zionist institution. She chose to do this degree, and she chose to participate in whatever she had to get to today. But she also chose not to go too far, not to stay for the national anthem. I suppose that’s conflict management after all: peace is a sleepy dream; conflict management is making choices.

Well, my term in Bar Ilan couldn’t have ended on a more appropriate note.

Graduation.

On the day of my ‘graduation ceremony’ from Bar Ilan’s Conflict Management and Negotiation program, I must note that five years ago,when I started, I wasn’t planning to still be at the job that was supposed to pay my way through university.

Yet here I am.

So, the degree was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe the program is better now, who knows. I’m still a bit scarred from one of the professors saying to us at the end of one semester: Don’t bother making mediation your career. It should be a side job, something nice you do aside from the job that feeds you.

Look, he’s not completely wrong, but saying it to students studying the field and not doing anything to better the situation isn’t completely right.

Anyway. I’m very lucky that the job that was meant to feed me through grad school became my career. In Israel, it doesn’t usually happen this way – you come with a profession and settle for less. I came with a bullshit humanities degree and experience in activism and journalism – and learned a lot. Both in mediation and in hi tech. I’m a different person than when I got here.

I was going to blow off the חלוקת תעודות  tonight but in the end decided I have nothing to lose. A good friend will join me; actually, a good friend I made waaay back when I first started the degree and the job.

I think she’s more happy that its completed than I am.

So, your wife is pregnant…

A few weeks ago I noticed an advertisement at a Jerusalem cafe and I had to share:

The ad is for a campaign by Clalit health insurance: ReadyDaddy.co.il – ‘because men aren’t born ready.’

Note: And women are?!

It’s a cute if not cliche idea; as we can all see, it’s based on the stereotype that men are freaked by pregnancy and the idea of having babies around. As seen on TV I guess. On another level I think it’s actually condescending; I know a lot of guys who were as ready and willing as their wives and for whom fatherhood has come as naturally as it can. In fact, I’m married to one.

But back to the ad: It’s a very well-done viral attempt to get young couples into Clalit service. Babies make the insurance companies money from the government. It’s the main reason why my very own Maccabi health insurance company has pushed so hard to get into Beitar Illit.

Money, money, money. Humor is always welcome, though. Good for Clalit for getting edgy for the young folks. Good for guys for being good sports about the cliches. And good for women like me who notice the ads above toilets in unisex bathrooms.

For a close up of what the ad says, click it to view larger:

Ten things that every guy has to do before you enter pregnancy…

…including:

  • Breathe.
  • Prepare a list of ten things you love about your wife – you will soon need it as a reminder…
  • Ask your wife to prepare a list of ten things she loves about you – she will soon need it as a reminder…
  • No matter what, remember the answer to every question is, “What do you mean, you are totally glowing!”
  • Buy a moped, comfortable, waterproof, running shoes. In the coming months, you will be a messenger.
  • End off nicely with all your friends. Don’t worry, they’ll come to the brit.
  • Sleep, sleep, sleep.