Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Boss of Me

A man in his 40's contacted me a few days ago, off one of the Jewish dating web sites.  When I looked at his profile, this is how he described his ideal relationship:"  Let the man take care of everything.  A man is a man and a girl is a girl."

After editing the thoughts in my head, I wrote back to him that I had hoped it was not his intention to sound like a misogynist, like an ego-driven controlling man with the potential as an abuser. I mildly suggested that he re-read his words and understand how a self-respecting woman in the year 2014 hears them, and is turned off by them.

Really, is the idea of a healthy relationship of equals so foreign to the available men in my age group?

Besides, I already have another human being who is the Boss of me, IE my daughter.

About five minutes after the end of the holiday of Pessach, Raphaela appeared in front of me with a reporter style notebook and a pencil, and dictated the contents of our next shopping list, our official Chametz run:  "Croutons, oatmeal, Cheerios, Corn Flakes, waffles, pita bread, fruit bars, pasta and regular chocolate.  And oh, don't forget some fruits and vegetables as well!"

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Childhood in a New Light

My friend ASG, with whom we spent a lovely Seder, made an observation that has resonated with me this past week of Raphaela's Pessach vacation.  We had started on the topic of teenagers, the way they choose to dress and the effect of peer pressure, and I expressed concern that there would come a point that Raphaela would buy her own (inappropriate) clothing, and make friends with those who were not necessarily the best influence.

I often see teens walking down the streets of Jerusalem, returning from school, and my brain shouts, "How did their parents let them walk out of the house that way?  Why does a 14 year old girl have to dress like a prostitute?"

(ASG, a woman with older children and far more parenting experience, pointed out that often children will dress one way to leave the house and change en route to school.  They will also say they are at a friend's house studying when they have all taken a bus to the shopping mall.  I was such a sickeningly sweet and obedient teenager, the stories sound almost ludicrous to me.)

"Even at Raphaela's age, she does not HAVE to listen to you.  She chooses to do so.  And when she gets older, you will have to trust her, and the value system you have given her."

ASG, you are very wise.  Having spent the week at various venues - museums, zoos, meals, supermarkets - watching other kids my daughter's age not listen to their parents, I can appreciate all the more that Raphaela makes my life just a little bit easier as a mother, at least for now.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pessach and Mortality

The death issue hung around for a while, with Raphaela asking me on a regular basis, "Mommy, I am not going to die, right?"  Or at a recent play date, "Mommy, I told my friend that she was not going die.  She didn't know that!"

After a week of respite from the topic, Raphaela informed me this morning that Pharaoh, after he died, had the choice for his Soul to "rest, or come back as a baby."

"Ah," I thought to myself, relieved actually,"now we have moved onto reincarnation."  I asked Raphaela if Pharaoh chose reincarnation and she shook her head in the negative, and we continued with our walk through the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Seder 2014

This year the Seder illustrated the vast developmental difference between 3.5 and 4.5 years old.  While Raphaela was certainly not shy last year at our friends' Seder, this year she walked into their beautiful home with confidence, chatting up all the adults and playing with the boy a little older than her, without checking in with her Mommy.

This year she stood up tall and proud and recited the four questions, and in a booming voice declared the Ten Plagues without hesitation. I couldn't have been prouder, given my daughter's history of performance anxiety.

There was great joy in Jerusalem when she found the Afikoman I had hidden, and when she knew she would get a Pessach gift.  (Truth be told, I had already ordered her present and it has yet to arrive - an official Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver - and Raphaela was happy with her smaller present, not knowing what is yet to arrive.)

We got home around one am, and Raphaela was wide awake, insisting upon setting up our own Elijah's Cup in the kitchen, so Elijah would come visit us as well on this magical night. 

"Mommy, Elijah came last night while we were sleeping and drank from our cup!  Maybe we should leave it out for him another night, in case he gets thirsty again and happens to be in the neighborhood."  Reported Raphaela at six am, after less than five hours of sleep.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Burn Bread Crumbs Burn

I am ashamed to admit that the skills I honed in Jewish Girl Scout sleepover camp have become rusty.

With great anticipation I explained to Raphaela this morning that we would not require assistance in the burning of the chametz, since I was considered somewhat of a fire expert; in the days that setting up camp, bathing au natural in a nearby lake, building a tent and igniting a campfire that could burn down the forest was second nature.

We took our loot from the previous night's search and found a suitable spot in the parking lot downstairs, and I included some newspaper with the bread crumbs to provide kindling.  The fire burned the newspaper only and completely ignored the chametz.

I added in more kindling and watched with satisfaction as the newspaper dissolved in the flames.  But when I  pushed away some of the ash, there sat the bread, fresh as ever, mocking me..

A neighbor, a chronic smoker whose coughing acts as my alarm in the early morning, came by with his cigarette and lighter and offered a few of his tried and true Chametz Burning tips.

Then I ran out of matches.  The pyromaniac in me was feeling quite frustrated.
To paraphrase the Torah, "And Lo, there was fire and the Chametz was not consumed."

Harry cruised by and casually sniffed the charred area, and Raphaela screamed out, "Harry, be careful!  Where there's smoke, there's fire!"

After building a more than respectable bonfire, completely surrounding the crumbs, Raphaela and I were able to do the Dora The Explorer victory dance ["We did it, hooray!" with the appropriate hand flailing and gluteal shaking] and continue on our day.

For the next ten hours or so we will exist in that terrible transition zone, in which our house is Pessach ready and yet, "Mommy, I'm hungry.  There is nothing to eat!"

Now we are Free

Israeli Pessach by the Numbers:

62,000 plus Israelis will pass through Ben Gurion Airport, on their way out of the country
400 or so  flights will operate in and out of Ben Gurion in the next 24 hours
90% of Jewish Israeli citizens plan on celebrating Seder with their families
55% of Jewish Israelis plan on keeping a kosher house during the holiday

And fair warning to Israelis from a paranoid New Yorker:  Don't post your vacation plans on the social media, it simply provides easy pickings for thieves.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Not Pessach Camp

With the completion of English Camp yesterday, Raphaela stayed home today with our favorite baby sitter, while I worked.  Without any coaching, Raphaela told me this morning, "Mommy, don't worry, I won't bother you or interrupt you while you work."

I told her that if during the day she felt the need for a hug and kiss, she was welcome to come into the clinic office, located within our apartment.

And actually Raphaela behaved well overall and enjoyed the time of one-on-one attention from our sitter, quite different than having 34 children in her class with three staff people.  Bike riding, picnic in the park, unlimited book reading,  art projects, what could be better?  But as my working day dragged on, her visits became more frequent and her nakedness more advanced.  By the time I finished the day, she wore her birthday suit, and nothing else.