Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Report from the Gan Meeting

Last night I attended the meeting of the parents of Gan Yarok, for the year 2011-2012.  It felt good to not be the "newbie" (or in Rocky Horror Picture Show, the "virgin").

1.  One of the new moms clearly had an issue with ADHD.  I say that not as a snarky parent but as a doctor. She had no impulse control, was interrupting others when they spoke, and could not sit still for more than several minutes.  I don't judge her, in fact I can't imagine how she lives that way.  What does, however, concern me that ADHD, a chemical imbalance, most likely has been passed on to some degree to her daughter, and I wouldn't want the staff to be so busy keeping this one child in line that they neglect the other children in the group.

2.  Two of the nursery teachers from last year returned, and two of them are new.  One of the new teachers rubbed many of the parents the wrong way.  She sat through the entire meeting with her arms crossed, barely smiling, like she did not want to be there, and the one time she did address the group she sounded unintelligent and shallow; more like a woman who would sit and gossip with her friends, than a woman I am trusting to take care of Raphaela.  I hope that the head nursery teacher made a wise choice with this particular person, and I am certainly willing to give her a chance, but will have no hesitation speaking up if I feel Raphaela is suffering because of a lousy personell choice.

3.  There was massive birthday panic among the group, because at least three of the children have birthdays right when Gan starts, this Wednesday-Thursday- Friday.  Raphaela's English birthday falls out this year between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and I am hoping to arrange her party before the big Succot vacation.

4.  At one point, the head nursery teacher restated her objection to gift-giving as a form of bribery.  She then went on to praise various parents who last year organized group gifts on Purim and at the end of the year, and on the occasion of the marriage of one of the nursery teachers.  Several other women got credit for the projects I organized, and then one of those women was asked to become head of the parents committee, based upon her dedication and hard work.  I am not one generally who wants the public pat on the head, but my contribution was completely ignored, and it pissed me off.

And to wrap up, we have a new vocabulary word in our house:  ELMO.  Oh sad sad day.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

From Two to Twelve

Raphaela now prefers to spend time with her two-year old play date friends, rather than with me, her Mommy.  My daughter has reached the teen years earlier than expected.  During the recent summer vacation, we have been enjoying play dates  - both the grown-up stimulation and the child distraction - and Raphaela spent all day today begging me to see her friend "Na Nu" (Alona), who goes to Gan with her and lives down the street.  Several times, Raphaeal brought me the phone and watched me patiently as I dialed.

Unfortunately I was quite ill today, and could not move, never mind arrange a play date.  Thank G-d I called our babysitting sisters and they were able to keep Raphaela busy while I rested.

Raphaela then spent the rest of today standing in front of the fridge, essentially complaining that there was nothing to eat in the house.  Guess I have to get back to the supermarket.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It Had to Happen

At some point it had to happen, no matter how much I watch out for Raphaela and try to prevent small accidents, Raphaela swallowed a small round bead this morning, an item that is distinctly a foreign object rather than food.  It was the size of a small M and M, and went down her throat just fine.  Now I await its exit....

Knowing that kids eat the darndest things does not assuage my feelings of guilt.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Aversion Therapy

Back when they started the illegal construction beneath me, almost two years ago, Raphaela was a baby and became traumatized by the drilling and vibration and noise.  I thought she had gotten over it until this morning, when the city was trimming the trees on the path near our house, and Raphaela literally flung herself into my arms, crying and shaking.

I thought it would be wise to show her the buzz saw, and stand there and watch them trim a few bushes, so she could see that she was safe, and put the fear into perspective.  Raphaela was able to stand there after a while without panic, and we went home.

Of course later she again became hysterical, and I had to calm her by explaining that the sound and the tool were not dangerous, and that I would always protect her.  I think I need to add treatments for my daughter's PTSD to the law suit against the landlord.

Our baby sitter also did a fantastic job of distracting Raphaela and taking her to the park during the height of the noise.  The sitter, a 17 year old from a large family, has truly impressed me this last week with her confidence and maturity.  She has also made me laugh:  we were all listening to a Sesame Street CD yesterday and the sitter said, "I grew up with Sesame Street!"  To which I replied, "Honey, I grew up with Sesame Street before there was Elmo.  The program started when I was one year old."

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Fragile Male Ego

My land lord finally got back to my lawyer, and they are claiming that they have not actually damaged the quality of my life, either financially or emotionally, and have offered to compensate me with an amount of money that is, quite frankly, insulting.

The land lord told my lawyer that he would have been more cooperative, except that I have made a "mortal enemy" out of his contractor.  I told my lawyer that the contractor (Ultra-Orthodox, married, 13 children) can't stand me because he propsitioned me, and I said "Hell, no."

Two more weeks until moving day...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Who's the Boss

After this week, I am feeling like somewhat of a failure as a parent.

One morning, I promised Raphaela that she could see some Sesame Street youtube.com videos, and when my computer would not comply, I allowed her to watch a little bit of a television instead. I have sworn that I would never use the television as a baby sitter.

Savta Shira and I had a long conversation about the lack of formality that I have adopted around Raphaela's meal times.  She urged me to set up a "proper meal atmosphere," even if it is just the two of us sitting together and eating yogurts or cereal.  She is right of course, but I must be honest;  in the morning, that ten minutes when Raphaela eats her breakfast is the only time I have to shower and get ready for work.

I took Raphaela to the our pediatrician this morning, as a post-op visit and to ask her advice regarding Raphaela's walking.  My daughter knows how to walk, she no longer has the limitations of shortness of breath, and yet she mostly prefers crawling still, for convenience and speed.  Our doctor agreed that it was a confidence issue and not a developmental delay, but pointed out that it is clear from the little she was able to observe while in the clinic, that Raphaela rules the house.  Why should Raphaela walk when I will carry her, or when I will immediately offer her a hand to hold while walking? For all of Raphaela's independence and spirit, my relaxed parenting and eagerness is impeding her potential, and that is the last thing I want.

And apparently I bought Raphaela the wrong summer shoes, and according to the doctor, I "should know better," presumably as a Chiropractor.

Raphaela was not talkative at the pediatrician, which also caused concern regarding bilingual language confusion; trilingual if you count her very elaborate mystery language.  It is not enough that Raphaela has the inherent understanding of sentence structure, her reliance upon body language and Hebrew /English /Gibberish may create problems.  This is also apparently my fault, if I do not strictly adhere to English in the house, Hebrew at Gan.

Truth be told, I have often felt envious of the parents of Raphaela's Israeli (uni-lingual) class mates, whose children seem to have a more highly developed talent for conversation.

I did get points, however, for our bedtime and night time routine, and for the fact that Raphaela is clearly a comfortable, opinionated and joyous little girl.

Not even two years old, am I ruining my child?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gan, Cycle I

Yesterday marked the end of Raphaela's first year in Gan, I picked her up and cleaned out her cubby space and hung around, just because I did not want to leave the atmosphere of familiarity. I cannot get over the amuont of development and growth my daughter has experienced there.

I know intellectually that she returns to the same place in two weeks, and now we brace for two weeks at home.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Learning By Example

Raphaela and I spent this past Shabbat with Savta Shira.  Her 20 year old daughter, rather than be with her parents and in her own bed, was helping a single mother of five by baby sitting for the entire weekend, while the mother took a much needed vacation in honor of her birthday.

I admire the sitter for literally taking on the responsibility of an entire family, and I admire the single mother, who was smart enough to know that she needs time for herself, and was able to arrange it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

That Spongy Amazing Human Brain

Yesterday we had a play date with Raphaela's friend Mika, and her mother, with whom I shared the pregnancy experience.  In Mika's house they straddle between Russian and Hebrew, and in our house we float between English (mostly) and Hebrew, with a little Spanish and Yiddish added to the mix.

Mika's Mommy and Raphaela's Mommy sat and talked, more like commisserated;  she may be married and I may be single, but we both feel at the end of our ropes from being the almost exclusive care taker of our beautiful girls, born one week apart.  What a relief to know that I am not the only parent who feels this way, that I have friends who understand me, and that we can support each other.

After about a half hour of play, Raphaela came over to Mika's mother and said something in what I thought was her very serious and well-developed mystery language.  Mika's mother answered her in Russian, and then had a long conversation with my daughter in a language that I did not realize she knew.   Apparently, Raphaela soaked up Russian vocabulary from Mika in the short time since we had arrived at their house.

I am amazed at the learning capacity of the human brain, and especially that of a child.  It appears my daughter also has a flair for languages, a trait she inherited from me.  Perhaps some day she will be a spy, like my great-grandfather, who had a photographic memory, and was fluent in eight languages.  Or a diplomat, that would be OK as well, though I failed miserably when I worked at the United Nations.

Tonight, when I rested with Raphaela before she fell asleep, I watched her expertly change the diaper on her doll, and then give him a Chiropractic adjustment.  She has leapt in her development since her surgery, and my sense of wonderment continues to grow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It Took Close to Two Years...

and for the first time since the pregnancy, I feel stretched to the very limits of my coping capabilities as a human being, and as a single parent. 

In honor of Raphaela's surgery, we were essentially home together, alone, for two weeks. I blessed the day that she was able to return to Gan.
Since the surgery, Raphaela now wakes up at random times in the middle of the night, and I am getting even less sleep than normal.
The surgery also gave Raphaela an endless supply of energy with which to express the "Terrible Twos" phenomenon even more than before;  every small decision in her life has now become a struggle to the death for her independence.
I am dealing with work, the law suit against the land lord, preparations for moving and stressful family issues.

Research says that Chiropractors need to take a break or change up their routines after 15 years of practice, or else they will come to resent their calling.  I have been working more than fifteen years, and unless I win the lottery this week, I must continue working in order to support myself and Raphaela.

I can't remember the last time I saw a movie, went out to eat at a nice restaurant, or took a real vacation that did not involve family obligations.  It has been so long since I have been intimate with a man, physically or intellectualy.  I did not celebrate my birthday because it was the first day home after Raphaela's surgery.  Other than the three days of recovery after my emergency appendectomy, I have never been away from Raphaela, and I have never had someone actively come and take charge of her, not even for a short period of time.  This morning, I could not take a shower without her joining me.

I adore my daughter, she gives me so much joy and pride.

That being said, for my mental health, it would be so nice to be able to hand her over, for one day.  For me to take care of me, without feeing guilty or worrying about my life.  I fear that if I don't get some time to myself, I will lack the patience and energy to take care of anyone else.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Have a Great Life"

This morning, Raphaela and I had our first (and last) post-op consultation with Dr. Jefferey Weinberger, our most excellent surgeon and most modest of men.  Dr. Weinberger gave my daughter a huge 'thumbs-up,' and closed our medical case.  As we walked to the door, Dr. Weinberger said, "Have a great life!"  One of the sweetest sentences I have ever heard, and I hope that both Raphaela and I never see the inside of a hospital again, unless of course it represents another chance for me to provide Raphaela with a younger brother or sister.

Because of the construction at Hadassah Hospital, we were seriously re-routed and spent time in many elevators and random connecting hallways.  Raphaela, G-d bless her, flirted with the Ultra-Orthodox man in our elevator, with the older gentleman who stood with us in the hallway, and a host of others.  I actually felt proud and relieved that at the age of almost two, she has not YET hard-wired the filters of bias that epitomize the human condition;  she granted warm smiles to all, regardless of age or gender or style of dress.  I myself know that I have certain prejudices that I try not to express, though in the long run it will become more difficult to shelter Raphaela from my shortcomings, and the reality of a fragmented Israeli society.

Recently I have wondered how I will pass onto Raphaela a love and appreciation of Judaism, its rich history and culture, and standards for moral behaviour, without all the crap that goes hand-in-hand with organized religion.

Today, the last day of Gan, they threw a wonderful party for the children and the parents.  I got emotional, despite the objective knowledge that in three weeks she will return to the same nursery with many of the same children.  Afterwards, a group of the parents went to the air conditioned (thank you!) Gymboree together, and I realized that Raphaela has made me an official, international member of the Moms' Club.  It felt wonderful.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Much Needed Laughter

With Raphaela's surgery, and this current legal affair, I find that I have very little resources to deal 100% with work, or with Raphaela.  Sometimes I give into her demands, only because it is easier and I don't have the strength to do otherwise;  I know that this trend cannot continue without affecting Raphaela and her mother negatively in the long term.

Today in the mail I received my latest Amazon package, which contained the best seller, "Go the F**k to Sleep."  Brilliant!  First time I laughed in days, and I recommend this book to every parent.  BTW, this is by no means children's night time reading naterial, but the pictures are actually beautiful, and the entertainment value, priceless.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Very Small Victory

After the man from the Electric Company told them yesterday that in order to pass the fake inspection, they needed to complete a few changes, they removed the physical tube that proved the connection between my apartment and the illegal one downstairs.

This morning, another man from the Electric Company came to redo the inspection, and I pulled him aside and explained that they were gong to bilk him into giving the OK, upon which they would illegally attach the electricity to the apartment downstairs.  I don't think he had been bribed yet, and he told me that he can only decide based upon the physical evidence that he sees on site. 

Ten minutes later, I heard the representative from the Electric Company arguing with some Ultra-Orthodox man I had never seen before, but who obviously had some authority on behalf of the land lord.  The inspector was saying that he had seen illegal apartments before, and that he could not ignore the evidence and the signs that something was not kosher here.  The bearded Ultra-Orthodox man then shouted back, "Forget about the signs. Do your two sentence thing and give us the approval we want, and get on your way."

I did not see the end of this debate, but I do know that the electricians who had meant to continue working this whole day packed up their things and went away.  I felt good that my words had been taken into account, though I don't know if they had the desired effect.

I felt good that today I broke, and then stopped cowering in the corner.

As a side note, when I told the head electrician that I could not afford to replace all the things that they had destroyed through their work, he responded, "I heard that single mothers make lots of money, all sorts of ways."  When he saw the look on my face, one of shock and disgust, he smiled and said, "Where's your sense of humor? Relax."  I see we have another tzaddik in our midst.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Best Served Cold

During the construction of the illegal apartment below me, there were days where I could not live in the house becuase of the drilling and noise and disruption.  Then there's the 1600 NIS in damages to my car from one of the larger trucks, which I paid for out of pocket because the land lord refused to take responsibility.

This past two weeks, I have been threatened and invaded by the workers of my land lord, so they can install an illegal system which supplies the apartment downstairs with utilities.  In this time, he has caused me close to 10,000 NIS worth of financial damage, not to mention boatloads of stress.  He continues to deny responsibility for his actions.

Yet he calls himself a tzaddik ["Righteous person" in Hebrew] because he is religious and prays to G-d three times a day.

This morning, after they made more changes to the electrical system yesterday, I woke up to find that my refrigerator had broken due to an electrical short, all the food was spoiled or defrosted, and I had nothing to give Raphaela for breakfast.  I literally collapsed on the floor and started crying.

Oh yes, that makes him a tzaddik.

I know I am moving in one month, but I don't know if I will make it until then.