New parenting level unlocked: Israeli school children on Yom HaZicaron

Here’s the scene. A mother is playing out her son’s childhood through a laundry metaphor. First the onesie. Then the tzitzit. School uniform shirt. Pants. Teenager jeans. Button down shirt. Army tzitzit.

When she gets to the army uniform, there’s a ‘knock at the door.’ She sees the soldier. She crumples. He salutes. She cries into her son’s uniform.

This is the opening performance at my first grader’s school’s memorial ceremony for Yom HaZikaron.

New level of Israeli parenting unlocked.

I had arrived just a little early, to find my boy, and offer him a hat. I had forgotten to give him one and we’re out in the sun. I wave at him and gesture with the hat. He smiles and shakes his head. None of his buddies are wearing hats. Of course.

I’m watching this scene, this bat sherut (an 18-20 year old doing her national service) play out this ‘knock at the door’ scene – the same kind of scene Prime Minister Bibi described himself going through today. She’s playing this scene that her friends’ parents may or may not experience in the coming months. There’s been the stink of warmongering in the air. The soldier who knocks at the door is a boy I’ve known since he was a toddler. He’s in fifth grade.

I look at my son; I can only see the back of him. He’s whispering with his friend. The back of his neck is turning red from the sun. He’s so light-skinned.

When he’s in the army, will he remember sunscreen? Will he just burn all the time?

I’m watching the older grade school kids sing and speak of the dead. I’m watching the other grade school kids watch this, sitting cross-legged on the basketball court. The kids all look so serious. The older kids carry out their roles with a deep sense of urgency.

I’m looking around. There are kids here I’ve known since they were babies. Ten months. Two years. They are tall, skinny things now. Messy hair. Toothy smiles. Quick glances at their moms in the back row.

There are places my kids will go where there won’t be any sunscreen. Decisions they’ll have to make where there won’t be a right one. I won’t be there in that moment. That’s the reality, I suppose, of making the decision to create children. You just understand it way too late. When it hits, you’re too deep in love. You’ll never not feel this twisted pain again. Ever.

After the knock at the door, I look around at the other parents and notice we are all crying. A few of us are immigrants. Many lived through this as students, siblings, and soldiers too.

My son’s still whispering with his best friend. Two seven-year-old boys in knit kippot, scruffy hair, white school t-shirts.

Seven years in, here we are.

We’ve only just begun.

Questions I answer for my kids on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Winner of this year’s national Poster Competition for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.

I’m not against the early, introductory Holocaust education of nursery and kindergarten aged kids. I think it’s a reality and if done right and age appropriately, it can enrich as opposed to stir excessive fear. It’s a hot debate in Anglo-immigrant circles; many people are taken aback by the openness. But I didn’t move here to hide from reality. I would have stayed in America for that.

During dinner tonight, after my kids sang a song that involved a certain debatable chocolate cake, we got to talking about race – you know, the כושי conversation – and navigated toward American slavery – and swerved through what it means to have different skin colors – and landed on Holocaust. What can I say, my older kids had talks, lessons, ceremonies about it today.

“Those bad guys… ummm… what are they called again?”

“Nazis.”

“Yeah, Nazis – so did the Jews say nu nu nu to them?”

“Ummmm no…”

“But you said when someone is bad to us we should yell at them.”

“Yeah… but Nazis had a lot of power. The Jews had none. You know, a lot of people died.”

“Six million!”

“…oh. That’s precise. Did anyone say that had savtot rabot or sabim rabim that were there?”

“Yeah!”

“You know, ours weren’t. They were in other places. Like America.”

“And did they help?”

“Umm…”

“But America helped them?”

“…did they?”

“And England.”

“Yes… they eventually helped. England helped.”

“And Hashem!”

“Uh huh.”

“But if our savta raba is now 101 she was 30 when it happened?”

“I guess about that…”

“Because it was 71 years ago…”

“That’s also precise…”

“I did subtraction!”

“You sure do learn a lot in school.”

 

 

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day to me.

Here’s how I found out today is International Women’s Day: My classy huz.

International Women's Day

And I suppose I was in a celebratory mood since all I ate before noon was a yogurt mixed with Fiber 1, which the marketing world tells me is the most feminine thing I can do. Girls be regular, amirite?

For some reason I agreed to a conference call for the same time I promised my kids the park, so if you’ve ever been there, you know this episode of Working Mom Sitcom fairly well:

  • I’m straining to hear about a new website feature in one ear.
  • I’m negotiating animal cracker terms between two hungry girls.
  • I’m handing a near-empty water bottle to a kid that’s not mine because ‘only keeping track of your own brood’ is for weaklings.
  • I’m thinking ‘soon there will be an action item for me and I’d love to agree to it knowing what it is.’
  • I’m being summoned post-scooter accident… my eldest is bawling like he’s birthed three humans and knows that level of pain.
  • I agree to an action item AND know what it is! Ten points!
  • I’ve run out of time with the animal cracker negotiation because toddler is now inconsolable doing The Clock on the park floor. (I totally get you, Serial Season 2 Episode 9.)

Half an hour later, rounded up kids, car, dinner, emails and – yadda yadda yadda – I’m covered in human shit.

Is that a nice way to describe my nearly two-year-old’s leaky poop?

So there’s all that hardcore scrubbing, me and her, some more kids, laundry. And – ‘Honey, I’m home!’

(When’s International Men’s Day?)

Oh, P.S. – I broke a nail.

Actually, make that two.

5 metaphors that describe my working motherhood right now

Just for fun, because I just finished working and it’s after 10pm, here are five metaphoric-idiomic examples I can think of off the top of my head that describe my experience right now as a fairly career-driven, family-driven, career driven, family driven, career and family driven working mom.

  1. I’m on a roller coaster that in theory could stop, but I can’t reach the lever, and the fact is, I kind of don’t want to reach for the lever, because I’m a sado-masochist curious about where this will stop.
  2. The chicken comes first. Also, the egg. Both come first. And you rule the roost. Both roosts. You rule all the roosts even when you’re pooped.
  3. Most of the time, it’s about keeping your head above water. Sometimes you just have to hold your breath and jump in, feet first. Sometimes it’s not you jumping in, but your kid, at his swim lesson, while you’re scrambling to organize a press release.
  4. The ball is in my court. Constantly. But my hands are tied. And now my wrists are tired. And also my face. My face is tired.
  5. There is no such thing – for anyone, ever – as sleeping like a baby.

And with that, Slack is buzzing and some kid is stirring and cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…

Loose tooth, lose control.

So now I understand why the tooth fairy is a thing. I had dismissed it as bullshit but I take that back now, because six years is in no way even close to the amount of parenting time where you can sit back, put your feet up, and act like you’re the shit.*

*there is, I’m guessing, pretty much no point in parenting when you can do that. 

Koala’s first wiggly tooth had been wiggly for… quite some time. We actually only discovered it was wiggly at the dentist – a few months ago. The same visit where the dentist pointed in the back of his front bottom tooth and said “hey, mom, how long has that adult tooth been waiting there?” and I had no idea what she was talking about.

Anyway, he had plenty of prep time. And also I lost count of how many times he said to us, “feel my wiggly tooth!” At least three times a day. Which is more than you’re meant to actually brush your teeth so he is plenty diligent.

But alas, I suppose there is no such thing as enough preparation for your first time. When you’re Koala.

The boy was so traumatized by his tooth falling out suddenly, yesterday, after months – moaning – literally writhing in shock and moaning, “but Ima, I wasn’t ready!” He was just completely taken by it. He had lost control over a body part. And it had simply up and left.

Doesn’t that sound terrifying?

So, yes, I told him that maybe there is this thing I’ve heard of, this, well, tooth fairy, and I don’t completely understand how she works, but, well, I kinda remember losing some teeth and putting the tooth under my pillow and finding a surprise in the morning.

And now Koala has savings account opened for a new soccer ball.

And who am I to stop a kid from learning some financial savvy?

Five years in, my most terrifying parenting moment.

The most terrifying moment in parenting is not having the kids. It’s not birth. It’s not the first time they fall. It’s not knowing they’ll be in the army in 18 years.

The most terrifying moment I ever experienced in my (exactly) five years of parenting was today, during the moment after which I opened the car door, leaned across the backseat, put my hand forward to pull back the baby’s car seat cover, and looked inside. That moment, in which, I was not aware my daughter had put her dolly in the car seat, pretended to buckle it in. That moment in which I forgot my newborn was actually sleeping peacefully, resting on my shoulder, even as my head held her soft back. That moment during which, on a 30+  degree day, all I saw, for a split second, was the hot, rubbery, plastic, dead face of a baby.

6 things about supermarket shopping with my son

Koala,

We’re at this point where I not only enjoy your one-on-one company, I actively look forward to it in many situations.

Honestly, for a long time, the supermarket was not one of them. And let’s establish that we still have to factor in the time of day, whether you’re hungry, and how much sugar you previously ingested in the last 30 minutes.

But today we were ripe for a nice uncomplicated weekly shop.

6 things about supermarket shopping with you, son:

  1. I love the questions. But there are so many. So many so early in the morning. While trying to accomplish six things at once.
    1. Why are we leaving the cart somewhere and coming back to it with stuff?
    2. How do you say אשכולית in English?
    3. Why can’t we get more kiwi?
    4. Why can’t we get this (enormous restaurant-sized) can of pickles?
  2. You have the capacity to say ‘Ima’ in a very loud voice two aisles over, repeating it many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many times.
  3. Do you always have this much energy every morning? I need to go hug a gananet.
  4. Reason I’m awesome #986475: I somehow managed to explain basic household budget economics to you in the produce aisle while packing onions. That was after you begged for a few pineapples, more kiwi, and 100% apple juice; that wishlist of yours might actually be reason #986476.
  5. A real wordsmith, you are. No, I had never considered it, but another way to ask me for a food item is ‘give me something so it’s b’emet that is going to be yummy for in my mouth.’
  6. Just kidding! When I went down to pick up the groceries from the car, came back up, and called for you around the house because you’ve hidden somewhere, I learned it actually only takes me about .04 seconds to go from ha, that joker! to oh my god someone kidnapped him while I was downstairs.

Also, thanks for carrying the lettuce up the stairs. I totally had the rest.

Love,

Ima (Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima Ima)

13 life lessons my kids taught me in 2013

Though I’m not really one for the Gregorian calendar’s drunken marking of a new set of 365 days, I am one for lists.

(They are a relatively inexpensive way to help keep me sane.)

As far as this list goes: Whether they mean to or not, my kids have plenty of life lessons to offer me. If you’re out there listening, children, know that either of you can easily fall back on ‘teacher’ if the astronaut/fireman/princess/brown soldier thing doesn’t work out.

13 life lessons my kids taught me in 2013

  1. I may not actually finish this list. And it’ll be ok if I don’t.
  2. You can’t possibly tell someone too often that you love them.
  3. Ask more questions. Keep on asking questions. Relentlessly. (Why?)
  4. Sometimes a fake laugh is worth it… sometimes it leads to real laughter.
  5. Give more compliments.
  6. The right kind of soft touch at the right moment can change everything.
  7. Cuddle in the morning. Make it the first thing you do.
  8. Eye contact is important (or, in other words, put the phone down).
  9. Trust your gut to know when it’s truly ok to say no.
  10. It really is sometimes all about having a good cry.
  11. I wield some pretty heavy power. Must use it responsibly.
  12. Just do it – just chase your creativity. Stop overthinking.
  13. Every breath is a gift, even while I’m staring at you creepily while you sleep.

As always, I’m looking forward to every single day to come. Especially the ones when I can ‘why?’ right back atchya.