Monday, October 25, 2010

"Ba La'Gan" or just plain "Balagan"

By 7:50am this morning I found myself in a shocking, if not precarious state : Home Alone. 

Shocking because it’s been about 6 months since I’ve been home alone, and precarious because mothers like me who find themselves home alone stand on the precipice of many things. Laundry? Clean my room? Take a Shower? Clear Off the Breakfast Dishes? Nap? Wash the Floors? Do the Dishes?

As you well know, Checking My FaceBook won out.  In my defense, I only had about 45 minutes to myself, and let’s be honest, how much of that other stuff could I have really gotten done? C’mon now.

About 20 minutes into my small yet wonderful reprieve, the phone rang. Those of you who know me from R know that it isn’t much for me to get excited about, and rarely, RARELY will I answer it. But, the stars were aligned and I picked up.

The first words were the words you never want to hear, “I’m calling from AY Boys’ school…”

Rewind to this morning: 1st grader “S” has his “tiyul shnati” today. Each class goes on a big class trip to somewhere in Israel, and today, S is going to Nachal Lachish near Ashdod, on a hike and to visit some sand dunes. If you are a 6 year old boy, or a 60 year old boy, this trip rates. It is fun, and muchly anticipated. We’ve been talking about it at home for a few days now (the big joke being that he is going to a street in RBS). 

S came down this morning excited and with butterflies in his stomach. He had on socks and crocs, and I gently told him a few times to put his sneakers on (“GET YOUR SNEAKERS ON NOW! HOW MANY MORE TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY IT?!). Well, push came to shove and I saw no reason to further push it, so off he went with his obligatory water bottle, hat, siddur and TWO lunches.  

Until The Phone Call…

“I’m calling from AY boys’ school, and your son does not have “closed shoes”. He can’t go on the trip without them.”
“When are they leaving?!”
“Right now. They are getting on the buses, you have 5 minutes to get up here.”

Panic sets in. I have no car, and the school is a 20-25 minute walk uphill. I grabbed my phone, bag, and the shoes and ran outside, calling a taxi as I went. BOTH taxi numbers were NOT ANSWERING. This happens, but only about once every 3 months or so. I called BAW, who was up at the merkaz with N, and he went to grab at taxi at the taxi depot up there, only to call me back and tell me there were none.

In my motherly panic, I start knocking on the car windows of the startled mothers who are bringing their kids to the daycare a few doors down, begging for a ride up. No one is going that way. I call my FIL who is often in the area and just this morning he happens to be in BS, a good 15 minutes away.

By now I am a wreck. It’s been 7 or 8 minutes, and all I see in my mind is S standing forlornly by the side of the road while the tour bus pulls out with 74 other happy first graders.  I start running up the meridian of my busy street, all the while clutching his sneakers to my chest and looking over my shoulder to see if any taxis are coming that I can grab. 

It’s 8am and I am sweating and crying and davening out loud.  I cannot imagine what a lunatic I must’ve looked like running up the middle of the road crying and mumbling, looking desperately over my shoulder. At least if someone would have called the cops (“Um, there is a very confused looking woman wandering up the middle of the street.”) they could've given me a ride.

At about the 10 minute mark, when I am almost at the top of my hill (what exactly was I going to do then, anyway?) BAW calls me. He has managed to grab a taxi and has stuffed N and his stroller inside, and is on his way to get me. I find them, hop in, and realize that we have somehow managed to get inside Israel’s only slow moving taxi.  

At about the 18 minute mark (in my mind, the other first graders are happily frolicking in the river, and rolling down the sand dune) we pull up in front of the school, where we (thank G-d!) can see the tour bus. BAW literally dumps N on the sidewalk, throws $ at the cabbie (who by the way charged us double the regular rate, probably realizing what state we were in), and leaves me to fend for N who is running into the street, and the stroller that just will not come out of the trunk.

BAW runs to the bus, which strangely is not even running. There are no children on, around or near the bus. Again, I figure that the first grade bus must have left, and S must be upstairs waiting for us in the office, crushed. BAW runs up the stairs, while I wrestle yelling N into the stroller. BAW returns 5 minutes later: VICTORY! carrying Crocs, and no sneakers!

The story does not end here, even if for us it was over.  As with all things in Israel, one thing I’ve realized is that there is always someone worse off than you.

When BAW got to the building, not only were they not ready, but they were having recess, not even remotely ready to go. The gates were locked, and the guard was nowhere to be found. Don’t even get me started on this. This happens often. For security measures, most schools here are gated, locked after school starts. AND, most guards are usually off getting coffee, shooting the breeze, etc., and your children cannot get out (which is how I like it, unless there is some kind of emergency) and you cannot get in. Luckily, BAW saw S inside, and beckoned him over and tossed him his shoes. 

For us, it ends here. But not for the mother who had come to drop off her son this morning, and was now locked INSIDE the building, and needing to get out to go get her kid’s sneakers! We thought we were panicked, imagine how she was feeling. And boy was she not a happy camper…

All’s well that ends well, I guess. Both BAW and I were shaking after that. We walked back down, crying and laughing at the same time, when two things dawned on us: 1) there was never ANY mention of sneakers in the note about the trip, and 2) I couldn't remember if I had even CLOSED the door behind me when I ran out this morning. Throwing caution to the wind, we stopped and treated ourselves to bagels and coffee for breakfast.  

Another day in the life, just trying to survive.  

Well, like my FIL said, at least it makes for good material.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Em HaBanim" - "Mother of Sons"

Warning: May Contain Bathroom Humor

Lately, try as I may, I can't seem to get the Big "P" smell out of my bathrooms. I wash, scrub, disinfect. And yet it lingers. I am transported to my 16 year old self who could never, EVER find a bathroom in the house that did not smell like the Big "P".  My mother is a cleaner, and I have inherited the gene, so don't think otherwise. It's a male thing. With 6 brothers in the house growing up, and now 5 of my own sons, it's time to reflect on being a Mother of Boys. 

We are a tough bunch us MoBs. Although I do have a daughter, I still consider myself one of this group as our numbers are a 5:1 ratio, leaning heavily towards boys. I love boys. I have been surrounded by them since I was young, and am not scared of this magnificent breed. And yet, they are mysterious creatures these little men.

Take for example the morning cry of "Pee-Pee 'X'" that I hear almost daily from my early morning slumber. Have no idea what I am talking about? Ah, you are not a MoBs. My younger kids (thankfully, yes, I would be worried if it were the bigger ones) race to the bathroom every day, and when they get there at the same time, that doesn't stop them my friends. It's just an excuse for the morning's Pee-Pee X, wherein they will use the bathroom at the same time, and yes, make an "X" as they simultaneously aim into the toilet.

There is also the needing to go to the bathroom once we have gotten into the tub. Most of my young gentlemen will get out and use the toilet, and then renter the tub. Some will not. And then there are the ones that will stand up in the tub, and aim in the general direction of the toilet. Hit or Miss.

Sorry MoGs, but you didn't know what were missing, did you?

There are also the constant pile ups. Usually in good fun, this entails a large pile of boys on the living room floor. There is much yelling and screaming, grunting and squawking. Mostly there is no blood. I am a big proponent of Boys Should be Boys. There is actually an awesome book out there with the same title by a child psychologist named Meg Meeker, MD that should be required reading for any MoBs. Check it out. Because of this philosophy I let them have their nerf guns, swords, playmobil knights, bows and arrows, BB  guns,etc. 

To their credit, it should also be noted that boys are not just disgusting and violent (Ok, mostly they are). Boys are also the ones that love their Mommas to the end. They are the ones that hold our hands, tell us that they want to marry us, that they will never leave us (wait, can you please sign here that you actually said that?). They are the ones who will become men under our noses, Bnei Mitzva, Bnei Torah, the ones who will carry on the family name, and have little Ws of their own one day. As our girls, our boys will (and do!) make us tremendously proud. 

My mother always tells the story of one of my brothers who at the time was innocently eating a piece of toast, when out of the blue he bit it into the shape of a gun and started shooting. At the time we had no TV, and he had no point of reference. 

Point is, boys like to shoot. And maybe bathroom time is just another target practice.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ma Zeh?

I have one child (and I knew exactly who it would be before I even got here) who has a major language block. I'm hoping that it's purely psychological, because it's almost uncanny how much Hebrew he is NOT picking up.

He even said to me today, "Imma! I learned what 'menahel' is today in ulpan!"

Me: "Really? That's great! What does it mean?"

Him: "MAIL!" Um, no. The correct answer is 'principal'. Close?

If something is in Hebrew, he won't even try and read it. If someone is talking in Hebrew, it's almost like he can't hear it. Total and complete block.

Except two words: "Ma Zeh" ("What's this?"). I was hopeful the first time I heard him use it. He walked up to BAW who was on the computer and said, "Hey! Ma zeh?"

I smiled inwardly (mothers can NEVER, EVER smile to show pride if a child accomplishes something. If said child sees this smile, it will set mother and child back at least 4 years. Mother's Handbook Rule #137), and was thinking "Wow! There is hope! He is picking something up!"

But the day progressed and "Ma zeh" came to mean "Hey! What's up?" or "Why are you doing that?" even: "Check out this cool dance move!" And my personal favorite: "Sure I'll drop kick you, you are just my little brother." It became a battle cry. I would hear "MA ZEH!" and come running to catch some misdeed in action. It was the day's mantra.

So, while I'm still hopeful that this child will get his act together and drop the language block, there is only one thing left I can hope for.

Ma Zeh? you ask? Oh, you'll just have to figure that one out on your own.

An "R" Moment

I had a "moment" today with R that will stay with me a long time. At least long enough to be able to use against him well into his 20's. Usually, BAW picks him up from school, but today I had some shopping to do up at the Merkaz, so I picked him up and we walked and shopped together for a while.

I turned to him at one point and said, "You know R, this is SO nice for me to pick you up and walk with you, just you and me!"

He squeezed my hand and looked up at me and said, "Imma, I am going to stay with you forever and ever, and never leave you. Except when I have to go to school!" It brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

"Well, what about when you get married?"

He laughed and looked at me like I was crazy, "We'll both live with you then!"

If only.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What we've been up to

I figure now that I am home sick, I have some blogging to do. Ha! As if I have anywhere else to be!!

I am remembering this now; the first year that we made aliyah back in 2002, we were all sick the whole first year. Unfortunately, it seems like it's gonna be a similar year. Maybe we were just off to a bad start, and this is the end of it! Well, whatever this is has had me on my back for two days. I am not better today, but at least going on the computer doesn't make me want to throw up. Ok, enough wallowing.

First of all, I have to say how amazing it's been here. As soon as word was out that I wasn't feeling well, the phone calls, FB messages, etc. started pouring in. Kids were invited out for play dates, and dinner showed up from an OLD high school friend who I haven't spoken to in FIFTEEN years! Seriously, I was floored. 

Succos was amazing in every way. Our succah was beautiful, we did lots of trips, had an amazing Simchas Torah, kids were happy all around, BH! They are off to school again this week, and thank G-d it was an easy send off. 

A seems to be doing particularly well. He is totally understanding most of what he's learning, and has been up to speed in all of his classes! He is still hesitant to speak much hebrew, and I would like to see him with some more friends, but slowly...we are getting there.

J is doing good too, with lots of HW lately, but she plugs through even when it's hard. Ulpan has started in earnest and each one of them LOVES their teacher and seems excited about learning Hebrew.

B is also doing really well. He's my social one, and already has lots of friends, and is rarely seen at home before dinnertime. He seems to have the biggest language block so we are working particularly hard with him at night. 

S still sniffles as he enters school every morning, and we can't really figure out why. He goes right in, has LOTS and LOTS of friends "Hey! Yisrael! You are here! Come, come play with us!" (Must be read in Israeli accent). He is already speaking some basic Hebrew. He has never asked to stay home, LOVES his homework (?) and chatters about everything that went on that day. Wish we could figure out why he is still sad in the mornings :(

R is doing GREAT! Much better! No crying when he goes off! He has an amazing Gan which focuses on teaching kids hebrew so that by next year they'll be fluent. He LOVES his morah, and is making friends.

N is too much for me. There, I've said it. I am actively seeking a place to put him a couple hours a week. His shenanigans have not gotten better. Here's a little example for you. On shabbos he did the following in a span of ten minutes:

He found a large saw and brought it in to us complete with sound affects. When we took it away, he climbed onto the dining room table, and put the largest Cutco knife that we own into his mouth, POINT first. When we gently took that away, he spilled a whole cup of RED Crystal Light onto himself, the table and floor. While I was cleaning that up, he found ANOTHER knife and started licking it. What we did not realize was that this was the same knife BAW had been using to cut JalapeƱos not too long before. He started screaming and sputtering. After finally calming him down, he took a shot glass off the table and threw it on the floor where it shattered into a million pieces. Have I said enough? Do you get the picture?! 

And people want to know why I am not unpacked yet. Frankly, it seems that I can't even clear off the shabbos table in time.