Koala update: Five years

Koala,

We’ve been alluding to and celebrating your turning five for so long that, today, you were kinda over it. So we had a chill family day and I had a few minutes alone with you to really… see you.

Hilarious, hilarious you.

As much as the year before four was rough, something clicked soon after your last birthday. Within a few months I was pregnant, and even before we told you, you were suddenly beaming with a new-found affection. Hugs, kisses, caresses, soft secrets whispered in our ears. Even your questions, your curiosity, came from a rich source of love.

If that’s all I had gotten with a four-year-old boy, I’d have happily gobbled it up. But there was so much more this year.

You’ve gone from being an awesome older brother to continuing to be an awesome older brother, only you and your sister are kind of actually… also really good friends.

We’ve worked on you listening to her, and it’s a work in progress, but when you do I think you know you really benefit. She might have had a small role in nudging you into the world of pretend play. You’ve taken it on naturally, whether your the abba to her ima, the Moses to her Pharoah, or the dog to her… well… not so much loving you as a dog.

Here’s something I’ve confided in you this year; that I always wanted an older brother. I wonder what would have been different if my brother and I switched places. Would it be like you, where even though you’re older, you’re happy to try new things with your sister? Enjoy the things she likes just for the sake of feeling connected? Being inspired by her?

You are taking on responsibility yourself – priding yourself on your ability to help out. I think a lot of that was the evolution you underwent during this pregnancy; you really took in my subtle and not-so-subtle pep talks about life after baby and your new role.

A fun highlight this year: I’ll never forget that breathless moment when you showed me a drawing and I saw your freakin’ name scrawled across the top. Four big, block Hebrew letters that made my heart skip a beat and text your dad right away.

And, moving on, moving up and away… Then there’s my eternal personal conflict, which, I guess is not so personal anymore. You have become undoubtedly aware of our delicate, er, international situation. Family across one ocean, family across a hemisphere, and you have become painfully aware of it. How many times in the last few months have you asked me if we can go to America soon?

We’re lucky that we’ve had all your grandparents and uncles here at some point or another in the last year or so, and you absolutely adore each of them. And we so appreciate how quickly you fall in love… and likewise, that you feel the pain when it’s time for them to go. I wish it didn’t have to be that way. I haven’t figured that one out yet. I’m pretty sure, unfortunately, we just never will.

You are really really thinking things through. You’re definitely an analyzer; that’s been apparent for years. But now it’s that we know you’ll figure out a few steps ahead. And ask deeper questions, more at a time. And call us out on what doesn’t make sense…

About god, for example.

And it’s forcing me to come to terms with the disparity between what I believe or don’t believe, and how I live my life.

And how I choose to explain that to you.

Koala, you are someone I genuinely love to talk to. When we’re together, there are times and subjects I get to explore which I never did when I was a kid, whether because I was uninterested back then or not given the chance.

Thanks for that.

 

Koala update: Four years

Koala,

I love you so freaking much. Sometimes I look at your face while you’re babbling about throwing lions at people or how all your friends’ dads are policemen (somehow?).

I look at your face, the same exact face I watched when you were laying on me, four years ago, staring off into space, with your then-dark grey eyes. What were you thinking about Koala?

I look at your face sometimes, watching your intense blue eyes stare off somewhere… what are you thinking about, Koala?

Here’s a not-so-secret: We took the full eight days after your birth to decide on your name. I was in such adrenaline-addled awe that everything had worked out pretty ok that we named you based on an idea of calmness.

Not a day longer than after your brit, you showed us that was naive first-time parent  thinking.

When you’re staring off into space, cool eyes somewhere (where?), I know I was partly right, in some way, about your tranquility. You consider the how, the why. You make a concerted effort to sort it out in your head. You’re a thinker.

With you, navigating life is always an adventure. A loud, expressive, emotional, opportunistic adventure. It’s exciting to ride your energy and see where we end up.

Learning what it means to lose something you really liked. Testing what it’s like to finally pet a neighbor’s dog. Discovering what that hole in your underwear is for.

Sometimes we end up at anger. Fear. Frustration.

Sometimes we end up at shock. Discovery. Elation.

It’s been a year of adventure – the better, the worse, the joyful, the painful. And I’m just speaking for myself. I’m learning about you. You’re learning about me (I think we might finally have ‘boobs’ down).

I can’t possibly count how many tears that’s taking – from either of us – but I think with time we’re working it out.

And nothing makes it all seem so simple as when you climb out of bed, walk up to me, put your little arms around my neck, put your lips to my cheek, and breathe into my face: Ima, I love you.

Happy 4th birthday, Koala.

 

Bebe update: Two years

Bebe,

A couple nights ago you couldn’t sleep. You came to bed with me, and we spooned for a bit. After years and years of considering I may just be more of a fork, I realized a truth: You, me, right now, in this moment, are the perfect spoon.

Two years ago, as the sun was setting and Shabbat was beginning, I looked at you on my chest and had no clue how I could possibly love another little human as much as I loved your brother. Thinking to the rhythm of your tiny, newborn breaths, I worried about it. For a few days. For a few weeks. Back then, I had no idea how much I didn’t actually know.

One of the biggest lessons you’ve taught me so far is just how much I don’t know much about anything.

And, on that point, I wonder if you could ever know how amazing you are; I could certainly write pages trying to tell you. I get the feeling that will be the case, forever.

Meanwhile, how about this: I’m looking forward to so much.

To doing what you love with you.

SHOES!

To pretending with you.

To laughing with you.

To loving life with you.

To dreaming with you.

To figuring it all out with you.

Two years later, I know a lot more but I still don’t know so much.

Keep teaching me, Bebe.

Koala update: Three years.

Koala, if you’ll wait patiently over there a minute (ha) while I tell the future parents/new parents a little secret:

One thing I’ve learned this past year is that the ‘terrible twos’ is a misnomer. The alleged phase starts way earlier than two, and by the time that two is turning into a three, it’s long over and out.

The fun’s begun way before they’re blowing out three candles.

Back to you, love.

Yes, it was tough in the beginning of the year. Let’s put side the new baby sister just three weeks shy of your second birthday. And the moving on to a big boy bunk bed with its share of scary aspects.

We weren’t communicating very well. You were sorting out language – two languages – and we were trying to figure out how best to make you understand while learning, most of the time, we were the ones who needed to understand…

That our kid was actually trilingual – Hebrew, English and… crying.

But time’s gone on and you’ve dropped that last one; we know it’s a ruse and you know we know. That’s allowed for more attention spent on the fun stuff.

Like when you started playing ‘same as’ with language… ‘cat’ ‘חתול’ – same as! ‘Umbrella’ ‘מטריה’ – same as! And the game has evolved in the last month… paging Princess Bride, we are full on rhyming and laughing while doing it. ‘Hand ‘sand’ – same as!

But man oh man. The first few times I heard you break out your resh… I could stand up and say HaTikvah with my hand over my heart. Now there’s an oleh milestone. You’ve come a long way from when the kids at gan laughed because you pronounced your girlfriend’s name Shee-ra… like an אמרקאי.

No one’s laughing now that you’ve got two languages to show off at gan (and your ganenets are always kinda curious slash showing off anything they know in English).

But what’s still cute is that your L’s in English are actually, oddly, NG’s. So it’s good your favorite color isn’t yengo. (But it is orange. What is up with that? And the fact that you LOVE olives?)

We’ve also gotten a kick out of your navigating language concepts… life concepts… mainly the concept of ‘something’ which is everything and nothing, all at once, but to you, it’s just one thing, one specific thing you know you want but can’t name, can only describe, and that something – that sumping – well, it’s everything until you can get your hands on it.

Moving on… lower down in your universe. You were toilet trained this year, a while ago. The undies were an adventure, still are on a day-to-day as you carefully select the pair you’ll wear backwards today (as you so rationally explain, you want to see the picture on the front).

But you’ve also set out on the long and windy road to knowing the differences between girls and boys, Imas and Abbas. Ima and Bebe vs Abba and Koala.

Though, for the good portion of the year, as you grew more and more excited for your big, first time haircut, you did believe that the key difference in the world of people was long hair and short, or as you call it – not having a haircut – like Koala and Ima – and those who do have a haircut – like Abba – and Bebe.

As you talk more, play more, sit on the floor and imagine more… as you take lines from gan stories sugar coating יציאת מצרים and repeatedly cast the characters of your imagination ‘בתוך הבור’ – you become sweeter, you become happier and you become more and more fun. More of the little partner in play I always hoped for, ever since I was a camp counselor for three-year-olds way back when. Ever since it became my favorite age.

The secret spice is innocence… driving through the checkpoint the other day, you spotted the soldiers, and told me they’re carrying drills. Like Abba. Like Grandpa.

I hope so, Koala. I hope that’s all you ever know.

And I have a confession to make, Koala. Please don’t report us.

You didn’t really get to go on a beach until you were three. Exactly. As in today. Literally.

Yes, your native-islander mother and Australian father denied you that pleasure until you were three.

But we had a blast today, didn’t we? Before you go back to therapy and work it out, I’ll say this: I don’t think as a smaller child you would have enjoyed it as much as today, as I swooshed you up for the waves, as you basked in a salty face full of a rite of passage childhood pleasure.

It’s all a lot to squeeze into one big happy birthday post, Koala. There’s so much about you I love, I become inspired by… and that I feel challenged by. You’re constantly teaching me about patience, even if it seems like it’s the other way around. You’re inspiring me to keep going forward because there’s a million worlds to discover in a single soul. You’re putting the fear of god, man, evil, loss in me.

You’re keeping me on my toes. You’re guiding me through life. You made me a mother three years ago today.

And with every day born, you make me a mother all over again.

Bebe update: Twelve months.

Good night, beautiful little Bebe.

I’m looking at you after you’ve fallen asleep at my chest. You’re exhausted after an active day in the warm April sun over Jerusalem. Your eyes are shut and your forehead is glistening with sweat from our body heat together.

You’re an amazing creature.

It’s been a year since you came to me. And spent the next twelve months teaching me about… modesty. About watching and soaking it all in. About patience. About waiting and enjoying it when it finally comes. About gratitude. About smiling appreciatively, about making other people feel good by reflecting their own goodness.

You’re my nature baby. Fresh air, cool water, soft grass, warm sun. You feel these things and you truly enjoy them and it makes me enjoy them. I’m lucky to have you for that.

In other news, you’ve spent the last month standing up for yourself. Testing it, trying it, taking it further. I think you know what’s coming next. Looking forward to watching you take that first step.

Chalk it up to your genetics, to your ever-present older brother, to your observational skills, but you’ve got a funny bone or two and you’re beginning to grow your inner goof. I’ve been saying it since those first few weeks, and it’s only getting better…

Happy birthday, my funny, funky, fantastic Bebe.

Koala update: Two years.

Happy birthday, Koala! I appreciate that you woke up today at the same hour you were born two years ago – 6:10 am. Could be worse; we’ve been there together, haven’t we?

And here I thought the first year saw the most change from start to finish… But the second year definitely held its own; there’s been a whole lot of moving, talking, and personality-developing. And of course, tantruming.

And here we are, Koala.

You are, in short, a love. Incredibly sweet. Curious. Sensitive. Funny. Careful.  And when you’re not those things, you’re loud, expressive, intense, demanding, dramatic. Essentially, you’re two. And you’re buckets of fun.

There’s nothing like laughing at your antics, but I notice that lately you’re becoming self conscious about being seemingly laughed at. It’s with, Koala. Don’t shy from your inner funny – keep us cracking up. It’ll get you far as a child of immigrants.

It’s been a helluva month, too – you became a big brother, and you’re adjusting in stride. We’re riding out the initial wave together, and then soon we’ll be focusing on some lesser – but still toddler life-altering – changes. You’ll be getting a bed soon. You’ll be toilet-training very soon. And you’ll be in the older group at gan next year.

What I’m looking forward to as we toddle ahead to three: Watching, listening, and learning from you as you develop your bilingual language skills. Being an audience to your growing imagination. Witnessing you grow from little baby to big brother.

Koala update: Twelve months.

The year is here. Some kind of ultimate milestone. Profundity escapes me. I’m just impressed I’m still around, sane enough to tell the tale…

Starting with today – the first birthday. Since the birth-day. Vaccines aside, I’m fairly certain by the evidence that Koala enjoyed what I call a ‘naked cake grab’ at dinner time.

There’s nothing like an uninhibited naked cake grab. Gotta remember that when my next birthday rolls around.

As far as everything ‘meta’… I can’t cough up cliches. I’ll start with the last month.

Third time’s a charm… or it’s at least an impressive number: This past month made the third time Koala has traveled with me outside Israel in his little life. A well-traveled one-year-old – but one who does not travel well. We’re going to lay off the air travel for a little while.

But the trip was heart-warming and fun and adventurous. Nothing like the curiosity of a near-toddler in a big airport…

…or the satisfaction of a sleeping baby on a long flight.

In other news, the boy knows what he wants. He knows what he doesn’t want. And he knows how to get those points across. Since the day he was born, on this date last year.

Let’s hope he is not a world leader someday. My little kingpin is… well… spoiled. An only child. An indulged child. And trust me, I’m not a spoiler. But there’s nothing else that can hold my attention quite like Koala can.

There’s work to do before he gets the shock of his life when he has a sibling one day.

On the non-skills front, the first faux art project happened this month, with his American-Israeli metapelet while I worked at a company offsite.

That’s actually a very exciting prospect for me: The fridge covered in art projects. It’ll be even more exciting when I can tell he truly did it himself (when there’s a single, honest Crayola marking across a broad, white sheet).

Otherwise, between the standing on his own, the new scrunched up faces of disgust, the new words he’s picked up… It’s been a fun month watching Koala top off the past year.

And it’s been a wonderful, short, long, educational, hilarious, sleepless, mystical, challenging year, Koala. More and more and more to come.