Monday, November 19, 2012

The Family Section

I have become that person that no one wants to sit next to or even nearby.

On the plane, as well behaved as Raphaela could have been, she continually kicked the seat of the business man in front of her.  I noted that he and his colleague imbibed inordinate amounts of beer during the 11 hour flight, and I certainly understand them.

Yesterday, after a long day at the Children's Museum in Baltimore, Raphaela and I, and my brother and his family (three children under the age of six) arrived at the Chinese restaurant for dinner.  They immediately directed us toward the corner and behind a screen, separate from the decent folk who came to the establishment for a relaxing meal.  And the crew of cousins did not disappoint, so much so that half way through the meal - albeit after a long day of trips and physical effort - we adults asked them to package the food that remained and made a quick escape.  They gave us extra fortune cookies on the way out as a "thank you" for our leaving.

Despite the hectic environment, I found myself smiling and enjoying the stress of the day's adventure.  I have no close family in Israel, and have never had the experience of a stressful day trip with aunts and uncles and cousins, the "noise" of people who love each other, and not simply because they are related by blood.   What amazes me more is the sudden realization that now I am the adult in the family, the aunt who tells stories and brings presents;  somehow in my brain I still see myself as the small child entertained by my mother's and father's generation of relatives.

Raphaela has been thriving since we arrived in Washington, following around her older cousin as if she is a goddess, whatever Neshama does Raphaela will be right behind.  Whereas Raphaela barely wishes to go down the small-ish slide at our local park in Jerusalem, she followed her cousin onto an elaborate three-story suspended climbing structure, and then barreled down a two story windy and enclosed slide.  I stood there with my jaw dropped in shock and pride that my daughter would exhibit such boldness of spirit.

Her other cousin Lev, a four year old piano prodigy, has started to teach Raphaela to read notes, and they sit together and play what almost sounds like a classical music duet.

There is something to be said for peer pressure...

(On the way home in the car, my niece asked me if the war was close to my house in Jerusalem.  I honestly did not know how to answer, how much detail to provide, when I myself am having a difficult time dealing with the onslaught of information and mis-information.)

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