Bebe update: Thirteen months.

Welcome to being over the hill, babyhood-style.

We started the month, Bebe, with you taking me on a nostalgic trip to the college days, as you went through some kind of boob-spurt and practically tore my shirt off any time you wanted to nurse. It was like as soon as the clock turned one-year, you had a surge of assertiveness I hadn’t seen before.

You know what you wanted, and you wanted milk. Or comfort. Or dominance. I’m not sure. And for the first half of the month, I was too taken aback to ask you.

But then something happened. Something I don’t wish on any little baby or parent.

You contracted… this.

And it sucked.

But unfortunately, you didn’t. You ceased all sucking activity one day. No more pacifier, no more boob. I held out for the disease to pass, and pumped as a placeholder. But you never came back.

I tried every day since and you haven’t come back.

It’s over a week now, and you won’t have it, and I guess we’re done, B. I really actually enjoyed nursing you. I was debating weaning for a few weeks back there, but as soon as you stopped I knew I hadn’t really been ready. It was different with your brother… I think we were both secretly relieved and just didn’t tell each other. But you – we had something really special.

Now it seems you stopped from the pain, struggled, and now you’ve moved on.

And, moving on, you’ve begun taking steps towards steps. Somehow, this month, you’ve taken first independent steps on couches… Hey, I get it, we have really comfortable couches.

But you do love walking, holding on to whatever.

But perhaps, to make up for the lost mama milky moments, you’ve given me something else… your gift of gab. Today I asked you if you wanted more cereal, and you shook your head ‘no,’ and then I asked if you’d like water, and you nodded your head ‘yes.’

You call my name, you show me what you want, you tell me you want more. You try a new word on your tongue and look around for approval.

You read a goodnight story with me, you communicate your loves, wants, hates, curiosities.

And so we begin, Bebe. The rite of all mamas and bebes everywhere, from God to Eve, Yocheved to Miriam, my mother to me.

The mother-daughter talkfest.



A true face of Jerusalem: the hospital waiting room.

Today I spent quite a bit of time in a Jerusalem hospital waiting room; no emergency, I just needed an x-ray. In the past few months, I’ve actually frequented Jerusalem hospital waiting rooms and have been fascinated by the faces I see and the languages I hear.

I think the true face of any city is its hospital waiting room. Conflict or none, from Belfast to Beirut, do people have much of a choice but to face each other in this neutral, undisputed territory?

Honestly, I’m not sure about those two cities, but in Jerusalem, the waiting room hosts a rainbow of Charedi Jews to secular Jews, Ashkenaz to Mizrachi, French, Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, international students and diplomats, religious and secular Arabs. You hear Hebrew spoken in so many accents, you wonder if it’s actually the same language.

Today I observed a couple of Arab women walk in with a small boy; one of the women was religious and one was not. The boy was young, maybe three, and clearly uncomfortable being there. He whined the way any child, no matter skin color nor religion, whines… The women accompanying him – the secular one seeming to be his mother – tried to hush him but to no avail.

Out of nowhere, an elderly woman came to him and started coaxing him Arabic-accented Hebrew to relax. She pulled from her bag the currency of which all children of every nation speak: crunchy snacks. She carefully poured the crackers into a cup for the boy and offered them to him: “Kach et ze, chamud. Ze b’seder. Tochel.”

Finally, the boy reached for the cup, and a chorus of Arabic flew from his mother and her companion: “Say thank you! Thank you! Shukran! Say shukran!” The older woman, who I realized was Mizrachi, spoke softly to the boy: “Yofee… Tochel, yeled tov. Tagid todah. To-dah. Tagid todah…”

This chorus of shukrans and todahs was not stopping, and soon I found that the Arab women were telling the boy to “Tagid todah,” while the Jewish woman was encouraging him to say “shukran!”

Language, faces, hospitals, kids, snacks. All undisputed territory when they work together.