Parents of kindergartners.

Parents of kindergartnersRemember when you were young, sweet-innocent-young, not boyfriend-naive young, no, really really young, sheltered-from-the-meaning-of-war young, and life was a big friend grab, and you managed to get yourself a pair of great friends, so you didn’t have to be left alone at play time, most of the time, and sure, they were already an inseparable pair, best buddies, but there was room for a third, sometimes…

“It’s a jungle out there.” It’s not fair to say kindergarten is ‘survival of the fittest.’ Darwin’s grand formulas take generations to brew. While every day in kindergarten may feel like a millennium, surely it’s packed with more cruelty, more raw emotion, more human-ity than 8 hours in mother nature (ever watch a documentary on lions?).

And while mother nature sits and waits, the parent of a kindergartner is doing the impossible every day, right here (anywhere), between the hours of 7 and 8am.

The parent of a kindergartner is splitting their soul.

You stand there and watch a piece of it break off and get swallowed into the mouth of the cave, and on cue, you turn your back and let life take its course. And daily, the little being you protected for so long is now becoming responsible for its own protection.

You don’t even get to be the one rolling the dice all day.

Then again, while you’re not some god, and despite your capability to love and hug tight and make triangle sandwiches, you also have the power to split your soul in half, and then half again, and again, and the knife doesn’t even have to be all that sharp.

You’re a parent, and no amount of fear or tears will change the fact that this is your job. Every day. Forever.

And then with time and experience you morph into the parent of a grade school kid. A high school student. A soldier.

And your soul keeps regenerating, or regrowing, or expanding to accommodate the splits, the breaks, the tears… leaving a young parent to wonder, how is it possible anyone makes it out of here whole?



New parenting milestone: the kindergarten birthday party.

I’m not a big birthday person. When I was a kid I was, as much as any other kid. Who doesn’t want presents? But at some point it switched off. I don’t like the attention for something I didn’t do. It feels a little forced and awkward.

I also don’t believe in making an enormous deal out of the occasion while the kids are so young and are capable of enjoying the simplicity of a leaf, stick, paper bag. I’m not into flashiness. I believe in good old fashion fun (my mom held out pretty long before we had any video games in our house).

And then there’s all the party planning, preparation, socializing… I could be good at it, but it’s just a lot of energy I don’t have right now. Or maybe my own mom was so good at it, I just give up.

Plus… the idea of throwing a birthday party in Hebrew pretty much makes me crap myself. If there’s one thing that freaks me more than getting up and public speaking in Hebrew, it’s doing it in front of a room filled with little kids. Whose Hebrew is better than mine.

So when I found out the gan will do the birthday party for you – in fact, prefer you aren’t even there – well, hey, go for it! Yesterday Koala had his first gan birthday, and from the dozens of photos the ganenet took, seems he had a great time.

I know it’ll change; maybe even next year he’ll ask for his own party at home like the other kids. I’ll let future Koala’s mom deal with that.

Kindergarten report.

Ultimately, I blame myself for my nearly two-year-old turning more and more Israeli every day. Isn’t that what I always wanted, immigrant-self?

Doesn’t mean it isn’t absolutely terrifying. On a daily basis.

Here’s the latest report from gan:

1. Speaking Hebrew: His chatter is getting better and better every day there. He’s counting to ten (!). The ganenet shows obvious pride when he calls me Ima at the end of the day (“but he understands English right? Ok, that’s good…”).

2. Fighting back: Yesterday the ganenet says to me, “Great news! We are so proud of him… He finally started fighting back when the bigger kids pick on him! He gets so into it… pulling hair, yelling back… Really standing up for himself.” Pride! Only in an Israeli gan… Can’t have a friar son, right?

3. American fashion: Ok, not so Israeli. More like immigrant-chic. But he gets cheers from the teachers for always coming to gan taking fashion seriously. Dressed to impress while the other kids wear pajamas.

“He always looks good…”

“Yeah, we get sent clothes by our parents from chul.”

“Very American. But good for him!”

We’ll see how that changes in a couple years; then #2 will come in handy, won’t it?

As a side note, I’m extremely pleased we put him in a ‘proper’ gan as opposed to a mishpachton. It was the right decision for our kid. He’s the youngest (and smallest) but he’s benefited so much from the year so far. Following the other kids, learning how to talk, getting better at playing with others and independently.

But more than the kid skills, it’s the picking up Hebrew and just local behavior (for better or worse). There’s going to be a lot I can’t teach him, so socializing on a daily basis is giving him the goods. With no siblings (yet) we felt it would be really important for our son-of-immigrants first-born.