Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Haircut

The heat in Jerusalem for the past two weeks has been unbearable.  I had gotten to the point where I was prepared to chop all my hair myself, and so I called my stylist two days ago, in the middle of the day, and declared a hair emergency. I begged him to find time for me in between his other clients, and my patients.

When I picked up Raphaela from school later that afternoon, she looked at my cool and breezy cut and gasped in horror:

Mommy, how could you, what have you done?!

What, you don't like my haircut? I love it!

I preferred it much better when your hair was long, like mine.  You are not going to make me cut my hair too, are you? I LOVE my Princess hair.

No!  You may keep your beautiful Princess hair as long as you want.

Thank goodness, that was a close call...

And the best part is, I can wear my hair short during this hot hot Summer, and then grow it long in the Winter again.

Well, at least that.  Thank goodness!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

SuperMommy

This morning in synagogue (the one we like, finally) it was my turn to help with the youth group.  For the most part, it involved gathering about 45 kids into the room, and toward the end, pouring grape juice, and distributing ice pops.

Raphaela and her good friend ("C") sat there, surreptitiously waving at me and mouthing "Great job, Mommy."  She was very proud that her mother had a presence in the room, but played it cool in front of her peers.

A four year old boy sat next to the girls, and he had brought a sharp stick with him from the playground outside.  The kind of stick that you would find as a picture under the dictionary definition of Someone-Could-Lose-An-Eye.  At first he was waving it menacingly toward Raphaela and C, and I watched as my daughter told him to stop and be careful and to put the stick down, away from them and the other children.

As you would expect, he didn't listen much. 

This little play went on for close to ten minutes, and at a certain point, I saw C push her chair back, with a look of fear on her face, and I watched as the sharp end came dangerously close to my own child.

Having determined that this boy's parents were obviously no where near by, and realizing that the girls' non-violent efforts to stop him had failed miserably, I stepped in; I took the stick away, gave the boy a stern look and said, "If you can't be careful with this, you can't have it."

As I walked away, I heard Raphaela and C cheering, and then I heard Raphaela say, "She saved us, hooray!  Isn't a good thing that I have a Mommy like THAT?"

Postscript:  As we walked home from synagogue, Raphaela told and retold the story of their harrowing adventures, the adventure becoming bigger than life with each re-telling.  She said, "You know what I learned today from you?  I learned that you try to resolve a conflict without hitting, and without killing someone."

I think I need to refine the message just a little.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Love and Marriage

Mommy, when you get married...

I am not really dating anyone seriously right now.

I know, it's a theoretical questions.

Okay.

So, when you get married, you will have another baby, right?  And I will have a brother or sister.

Not exactly.

But that's what happens: you get married, you have children.  (Patting my belly as she is talking)

First of all, I already had a baby, you!  Second of all, getting married does not determine pregnancy, it only happens if your body agrees.  And I don't think my body will agree to have any more children.

Mommy, I really hope you find a good man to marry. I want a Daddy to play with, and I can help both of you.

Raphaela, your job is not to take care of me, or your father. Your job is to help out a little, because you live in the house.  But more important, your job is to be a girl and experience the world and have a beautiful life.

Mommy, you deserve to have a beautiful life too!


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Post Shavuot Report

(Random musings after a long holiday weekend.)

I believe in reincarnation, though I have not put too much thought into who Raphaela might have been in a previous life.  This weekend she was playing with some Playmobil figures, and said, "This family is very poor, because they used up all their life savings to buy their house, and now they don't have a financial safety net."

Seriously.  I am not making this up.  Apparently in her previous life she was very fiscally savvy.

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Among the various Torah topics that came up during Shavuot were the Ten Commandments, and why some of them make sense intrinsically for society - "Don't Kill" "Don't Steal" - and why some are more difficult, like "Honor your father and your mother."  I explained that the Torah does not actually talk about love in this commandment, it is about respect for the person who brought you into the world.  It is about (in all practical terms) "listening to your Mommy."

Then I looked at Raphaela, straight in the eyes, and said, "The Torah talks about a child honoring and respecting her parents.  I will make you a deal:  if you listen to me and treat me with kindness, I will do the same for you.  Because you are my girl.  I will do the commandment of honoring you, your feelings and your needs."

Raphaela was most pleased.

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She has become a shrewd negotiator, this girl.  I wanted to take a nap on Sunday of Shavuot, because I so rarely get that gift during my work week, in fact, never.  Raphaela wanted me to play with her, all day, and resented my taking two hours out of that schedule to sleep.

Then she suggested to me, "Mommy, we always take a nap on Shabbat, and when we wake up, you give me a special Shabbat snack.  If I let you nap on a Sunday, on Shavuot, will you give me a special Shavuot snack when you wake up?"

Deal!  Done and done.

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Yesterday we spent some time at the Gazelle Valley near our house, and had a brunch picnic in the grass.  Remarkably, there was a group of three deer that had left the gated off sanctuary and were wandering around the park; they came within three feet of myself and Raphaela, we could almost pet them.  We were so excited and spend a good hour following this intrepid group around the grass and up the pathways, that I didn't notice that I had dropped my small bag.

When we sat down to eat, I realized that it was missing, and told Raphaela that if we didn't find it, so be it. It was not the worst tragedy in the world.

Then a little French boy walked by, and I noticed that he had my little pouch on his arm.  Raphaela jumped up and caught up to him, and said, "That is my Mommy's bag, can we have it back please?"  The boy agreed immediately and came over, telling us his and his whole family's life story;  they are moving to a bigger apartment, they are getting a dog, their exact address, his feelings on women who wear short-shorts...

I took him back to his parents and told them that he had done me a great kindness by finding my bag in the bushes and returning it to me without hesitation.  Parents should hear that they have done a good job, because we so often do not receive any external validation.

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On Pessach, the first day of school vacation, Raphaela lost her first tooth.  On Shabbat, Raphaela lost her second tooth.

I explained that the Tooth Fairy does not work on Shabbat or Jewish holidays, and that she would have to wait until Monday night to place her Precious under the pillow.  Raphaela carried around that tooth for two days straight, to be sure that it would ready and able the minute the holiday ended.

She also wrote this letter, and folded it next to her tooth:



Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Visit to the Vet

I dedicate this post today to my first born, Harry The Highlander.  At the honorable age of 14 and a half (that's almost 80 in human years), this cat has taught me patience, and how to love without expecting anything in return.

At home, he is almost human:  needy for attention from people, extremely verbal, easy to purr even with strangers, and always placing himself at the center of any action.  When we go to the vet (thank goodness infrequently) he has been red-flagged by the doctor as a vicious, uncooperative, scratching tiger.  Even if he has to get a simple procedure, he must either be sedated or put in the Squeeze Cage.

Yesterday he had an appointment, and needed to get two injections.  As Harry gets older, the doctor has advised less shots and less intervention, so it was three years since our last visit.  It was a new vet, and I advised him that unless he didn't value his hands, it would be best to use the Squeeze Cage.

"But he looks so sweet and friendly," the vet said.
"Trust me." I replied.

Once caged, Harry allowed the vet and his assistant to do their work, not acting out at all, though  certainly complaining loudly the entire time. No humans were harmed in the attempt.

The vet thought that I had overestimated Harry's resistance to the doctor's office.
I know I didn't.  Because I heard about it all the way home, from Harry.

And finally, to show his displeasure, he ran into the garden and hid from me for the rest of the day, refusing to come inside as it got dark.

(Raphaela, who aspires to be a Veterinarian and Zoo Keeper when she gets older, found the whole experience hilarious.)



Friday, June 3, 2016

Chumash Party

Throughout this year, Raphaela and her classmates have been learning the stories of Genesis in depth.  Her teacher challenges them to think about the emotional implications of the stories as well IE "How do you think Noah felt when the dove didn't return to the Ark?"  "How do you think Adam and Eve felt when they were punished for not listening?"

Today, one month before First Grade officially ends, Raphaela received her official Chumash [Torah], covered in beautiful decorations and marking the time when she will start reading from the text itself; because now she can read in Hebrew all by herself.

This morning, while getting dressed, Raphaela's biggest concern was that her loose tooth would fall out during the performance on stage, in front of all the teachers and the visitors. I assured her that if her tooth dramatically popped out during the show, it would make it all the more enjoyable and memorable.

There was of course another twist to this celebration, grandparents were the honored guests, and having none in the country, Raphaela had to settle with me (boring Mom), and my brother.  Normally during the year, my daughter does not express regret or sadness at being relatively isolated from our family here in Jerusalem, Israel; in the last week we have had several conversations about all the people we love, who live far away.

There was singing and hand movements, speeches and plays, and the bit that always chokes me up, when they spread a giant tallit over all 80 girls and all the parents and grandparents gave them a blessing.

Afterwards, Raphaela's teacher asked me to give a short speech to the class about family and the chain of history that links us all. I was honored, and hope I did Raphaela proud.

All the way home, Raphaela hugged her Chumash like it was gold, and called it her "beautiful and holy book."  May she continue to grow in accomplishments and joy, and may I live a long and healthy life to be able to share in all these moving events.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Money Matters

Yesterday Raphaela had a day off from school; yes, yet another Jewish holiday in the series for the month of May.  We met up with cousins in the morning for breakfast, and then took advantage of International Free Museum Day.

For whatever reason, Raphaela seemed fixated on the topic of money and personal finances the entire day.

As we waited for the bus, Raphaela asked me what kind of grand celebration I had received when I turned 12.  I told her that when I was that age, no one made a big deal about girls, and other than a pretty standard birthday party in our backyard, the event came and went.  She seemed shocked and sad for me, because, she explained, I didn't get loads of presents.  Then she said, "Don't worry Mommy, when I have my Bat Mitzvah you can make me a fantastic party, and give me lots of presents."

When I took out coins to pay for the bus, Raphaela asked me where money comes from, and how did I (personally) have money to spend. I explained to her that I work very hard, and that I get paid for helping people feel better, and then I have money to take care of us.  Raphaela, proud of herself and her future earning capacity, told me that when she gets older she is going to be a Veterinarian.

"That's wonderful, " I said, "but right now you are a little girl who doesn't work. Your work is to go to school and learn great things, play with your friends and do your homework.  And you are too young to baby sit."  Then I explained the concept of an allowance, that if she does her specific jobs around the house all week, she will earn money, and she can then spend on herself or save toward something bigger.

Raphaela loved that idea, and starting next week, we have a chore chart.

When we met our cousins, my very Israeli daughter asked them how much money they make and basically, what is their net worth.  With a nervous giggle, I stopped Raphaela and explained to her that the question was not polite, and that it is really none of our business how much anyone else earns, or where they spend it.

Another life lesson for her to check off the list.