Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Last Call

The furniture has been moved around, the walls re-painted, some of the toys have gone AWOL from the shelves, and the names of the children have been removed from their cubbies. 

When I saw Raphaela's teacher today, the one woman who has been more responsible all year for my daughter than the other two on staff, she told me that today was her last before the end of the school year next week.  She then told me that I have a "wonderful and special kid," and that she felt so proud yesterday as she watched Raphaela play with a large group of her classmates, confident and vocal.  Quite a change from the beginning of the year, when her inner world full of imaginary friends was more appealing to her than human company, and when English dominated Hebrew in her speech.

Grateful for this year, I have begun to prepare Raphaela for the changes ahead.  She knows that once Gan closes for the year she will attend camp, and after a minor vacation she will transfer to a new school with mostly new friends.

I find that children this age have a good grasp on certain linear time concepts: "Now," "Soon," "Later," "Tomorrow," and even "In a few days."  And yet now that Raphaela understands the long term plan, she asks me every morning when she will go to her new Gan.  Here's hoping that her enthusiasm takes us through the entire month of August.

I was thinking that humanity might be better off if we ditched linear time.  Not only would we cease rushing from place to place and constantly checking our watches, but it would also afford us the opportunity to see Past-Present-Future as a true continuum.  If we could understand even on the smallest level how our actions and thoughts today ripple backward and forward in time, we would stop worrying, because we would know that it all turns out OK, according to the Divine Plan.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Early Morning Risers

I could easily be labeled a "Crazy Cat Lady" by my neighbors:  every morning, easily before seven am, I go outside with a little container of cat food and a bottle of water.  At three different stations near my house, I put out some breakfast and refill the bowl of water, as the Israeli Summer gets more and more scorching each day. I have been doing so since Hurricane Katerina, when Raphaela was an infant I would take her with me in a sling, and now she accompanies me and helps me in this task I have undertaken.

In fact, these days I am an 'agent' for a Japanese woman named Takako, a non-Jewish Zionist who travels to Israel several times a year, and spends most of her time walking around the entire city of Jerusalem looking for cats to feed and rescue.  When she returns to her home, she leaves me bags of food to act on her behalf as well my own.

Predictably, we bump into the same people every morning, the religious men in the area going to synagogue, the older Russian woman sweeping away the leaves from the front of her building, my elderly downstairs neighbor who takes in her "constitutional" every morning at the crack of dawn.

We also see a religious man, always carrying a bunch of plastic bags, talking to himself and collecting bottles from the recycling bin. I happen to know him and his family, they live about 20 minutes away from my street and he is certified as a lawyer, his wife is a professor at the Hebrew University;  several years ago he was diagnosed with cancer and received chemotherapy and as far as I know has fully recovered.

Once, I heard a Jerusalem-based comedian joke that religious men here have a 'thing' with plastic bags, he correctly observed that everywhere in the city you see them carrying their life, their black hats etc. in these random bags, rather than a backpack or a man purse.  But I wonder if there is more to this story with this particular gentleman, why he wanders the streets so early in the morning and collects bottles, and if his wife and children are aware of this behavior.

Recently I have understood that drawing conclusions and judging others based upon outward signs and appearances helps no one, and so I will continue to keep an eye on this man from a distance, offering help if he should ever ask.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My Daughter the Yekke

The Carnival at Gan on Friday featured a full small animals petting zoo, with an iguana, a turtle, a pheasant, a rabbit and a hamster.  The turtle, poor thing, received the brunt of the abuse from the smaller children, with them pulling the limbs, dropping him and spinning him around on the floor. I watched as one child got especially violent with this creature, and for five minutes the mother actually encouraged her son to continue in this vein of abusive curiosity.  Several parents including myself couldn't handle it anymore, and at one point I said, "OK, I think it is time to give another child a turn with the turtle."  Afterwards, this small group of horrified mothers agreed that "No" or "Kindness and Gentleness" would have been lovely words to hear, that it is never too early to start giving toddlers boundaries.

The rabbit and hamster didn't fare much better, but at least they could run away.  Raphaela took it upon herself to protect the hamster; she put him in an open box with some cucumbers for food and sat in the corner of the room, stroking him gently.  When other children approached, she mediated their interaction, and if they got too rough, she stopped them.


The Carnival also had a bouncy castle, and most of the children threw their shoes off and dove right inside. Raphaela, disturbed by the chaos of shoes and sandals scattered about, took it upon herself to match up all the pairs and line them up neatly at the side of the courtyard.  Only then could she continue her play, reflecting, of course, my preference for order and for putting things away so you can find it afterwards.


On Shabbat, bored and playing independently in the other room, Raphaela took apart a small bookcase, laying out each shelf and piece of the frame of the floor.  She had almost as much fun watching me put it back together (cursing under my breath) afterwards.

At least I know that she has the IKEA gene, which I am sadly lacking.

Friday, July 26, 2013

I don't normally like to take Raphaela with me to a facial treatment or something else that is meant to be relaxing, but with the Summer vacation I didn't have much choice.  Actually, Raphaela quite enjoys coming with me, because she knows that my friend Tally loves kids and will give her the princess treatment;  nail polish, lip gloss and usually a small treat.

Sitting in the car on the way to the studio, Raphaela suddenly said, "Mommy, I think I should give Tally some money because she is so nice to me and does very good work."

Literally stunned into silence for a minute at the spontaneous and mature comprehension my daughter had just displayed, I finally said, "Raphaela, that is a wonderful idea and so kind to acknowledge Tally's hard work."

As soon as we arrived, Raphaela opened her little pocketbook, took out her change purse (which contains small coins), gave Tally a few coins and said thank you. And indeed, she chose silver sparkly nail polish and lip gloss .

When I finished my facial treatment, I started to take my wallet out to pay and Raphaela interrupted, "Mommy, you don't have to pay, I took care of it!"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

Raphaela plays "birthday party" every day. If she is wearing casual clothing, she changes into a Shabbat dress and chooses a crown from her collection.  She sets the table with a table cloth and a pretend cake, and organizes toys and books and cards with birthday blessings.  We sing songs to the honoree, sometimes her imaginary friends like Bob the Builder and his "friend" Wendy, the vowels of the ABC or her stuffed dolls, sometimes to Raphaela herself.

My daughter has taught me that every day is a reason to celebrate and to recognize in joy who we are, to remember that we all deserve to be surrounded by people who love us and enjoy our company.

Today, for my birthday, Raphaela gave me one of her crowns and asked me to wear it all day, even while she spent the day in Gan.  I was more than happy to comply and not at all embarrassed to be a grown adult walking around the street in public (the post office, the shopping mall, the bank) with a wreath of flowers on my head.

In fact, rather than get funny looks, the random population of Jerusalem embraced my special day:  When I walked into the bakery on Palmach, the staff and seated patrons burst out in song.
At the makeup counter, an older Israeli woman (a complete stranger) played with the curls on my hair, declared me a Leo and wished me health and success.
In the supermarket, the computer printed out a special birthday wish at the bottom of my receipt.
When I collected Raphaela from Gan, her teachers organized an impromptu dance of celebration.

I had hoped to get away for my birthday, but taking advantage of the fact that Raphaela has a full day of quality child care until August, I chose to wait until her actual Summer vacation for us to have an adventure together.  Instead I took a day off from work and ignored patient calls.  I spent the morning eating a leisurely breakfast and doing some creative writing. 

While my afternoon errands were fairly commonplace, I did not feel rushed in any way and the cashier at the supermarket, an Ethiopian woman whom I have known for many years, remarked that I had a relaxed glow to my face.  The nine hours that Raphaela spent at Gan belonged to me, without any responsibility or timetable, and it felt wonderful.

I need to do this more often.

Monday, July 22, 2013

New Royal Baby

370,000 infants were born yesterday, July 22, 2013, on the same day as the new royal baby boy, third in line for the throne as the son of Kate and William. Bravo to Kate for choosing a natural birth; and kudos to her husband for being in the room with her the entire time, just like "normal" people with lesser bloodlines, and for taking his two weeks of paternity leave.

I almost hoped for a girl, if only to force the UK to officially acknowledge that a girl/future woman would become Queen, and not simply because her parents didn't give birth to any younger brothers.  Plus, little girls are much more fun to dress;  the Brits do love their fancy hats!

Boo to the overwhelming press presence, stalking the royal family and standing in front of the hospital for several weeks in anticipation of hearing some small tidbit of news about the birth of the future heir.  At the end of the day, Kate is a human being, a woman who had a baby, let her accomplish this surrounded by peace and quiet and privacy.

Several recent studies have proven that fetuses start learning the most important lessons in the womb, from the sound of the mother's voice to the food they will eat, early language acquisition , and regarding the stress levels and emotional atmosphere of the 'other side.'  What did this child learn, with his parents and his mother's pregnancy constantly under scrutiny?

I certainly did not have a group of reporters following my pregnancy and the birth of Raphaela.  But I went through 12 hours of a natural birth and it was not "royal" or pretty or press worthy; though it was a bona fide miracle, as I am sure every new mother feels when they hold their child for the first time.

According to the reports, an inordinate amount of swearing came out of my mouth during those 12 hours.

When I look at pictures of myself right after the birth, I look happy but tired, I am wearing my glasses and my hair is a mess and I have monitors and IV threads attached all over the place.  Not quite the photo opportunity I might have wished, and I would imagine that Kate, after approximately 14 hours of labour, felt the same way.  (That being said, my cousin who is now pregnant with her third, manages to look like a super-model right after her births, and the new baby right-out-of-the-womb pictures they send out to the family are enviable.)

Welcome to the world to a little boy who will never experience privacy, who will be born into a home of tradition and wealth, status and culture and responsibility. Mostly the responsibility to prove that a figure-head monarchy can be justified in the 21rst century.

The other 369,999 children born yesterday will not have the resources and the opportunity of this little Prince.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

One Step Forward, Five Steps Back

My house cleaner happens to be an Israeli male, a person with a wife and children.  He comes to my house once a week, because I don't know where I would find the time to do it myself, with my 24 hours already fully scheduled.  It is a gift to myself, those two and a half hours that he makes my floors clean and shiny, and helps me feel a little human.

This man likes to practice his English with me, and brags that he can even slog through "real" English mystery novels.  When he arrived last week, I told him about the lecture I had attended about Feminism and the Post-Feminism Era.  He responded, "Feminism, that's old news!  Didn't that pass us by already?"

I explained that this attitude typifies the problems for women today, that Feminism achieved exactly the opposite of its intentions: instead of freeing us to pursue our goals without the traditional stereotypes, we now do double the work in order to conform to the new attitudes, while maintaining the role of the 1950's housewife.

My cleaner then launched into a diatribe, clarifying first that he loves women and respects them, and thinks that we are not appreciated enough for who we are, who we can become and what we do for our families.

Great start, you would think, especially for an Israeli, where the macho generally overpowers the potential levels of equality that could be achieved in this country.

And then: "Feminism is a terrible thing, it changed women for the worse!  It changed the way women talk and walk and dress, Feminism created women who are too strong and that makes them unattractive."

He continued, "Women should be soft and take care of their men and their family, and let the men take care of things, like it should be."

We have a long way to go, baby...
Sitting with Raphaela and discussing various professions, she noted that I was a doctor and then added, "I am a doctor too."  When I asked her what kind of doctor, she replied with a smile, "Doctor Who!"

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Early Sunday Morning

Raphaela woke up this morning and sneezed twice, and then said to me, "Mommy, while I was sleeping someone switched my nose with a broken one!  Can we go to the doctor and she can do an exchange?"


Raphaela's inner world is inhabited by a rich variety of imaginary beings and ideas.  She has spent the last two week going back and forth between calling herself a princess or a baby unicorn.  When Raphaela sees something that scares her, she makes this loud neighing sound and explains that unicorns have many talents, including running and jumping, opening up jars and scaring away tigers.

This morning she put on a dress for Gan and with a very matter-of-fact toned explained to me that today she will do a lot of dancing, because she is wearing a dress and because she is a princess.  "And all princesses know how to dance."

She then added as an afterthought that one of her teachers will also be a princess today.


Walking to Gan this morning, Raphaela started making a list of all the activities she will do once she arrives at her classroom.  At the top of the list was dancing and singing "with all the guys", along with hearing stories and eating.

I, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, then pretended to dance with a lousy rendition of ballet, and was immediately informed by my daughter that I cannot dance properly because I am not wearing a dress.  I was then instructed to go to the supermarket, buy a dress there and then come to her Gan to dance with her.

Raphaela paused for a moment and changed her mind, "Mommy, come to think of it, you have a skirt at home.  You can put that on right away and dance at home."

(All this before 7:30 am...)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Alternate Universe, Different Pathways

March 1997

Having finished my clinical internship in January, I returned to Toronto, Ontario in March for my official graduation ceremony from Chiropractic college.  Because I had four year's worth of frequent flier points, I upgraded to Business Class for the short plane ride from Boston to Canada.

I found myself sitting next to one of the General Managers of the Boston Bruins.  Full of enthusiasm for my new profession, I delivered my five minute "Chiropractic will save the world" speech.  Apparently I was so convincing that the man offered me a position as the team doctor for the championship hockey team.

Except that I had already begun processing my aliyah through the Israeli Consulate, and had even received my one-way El Al ticket.  And in my naiveté, I joyfully answered this once in a lifetime job offer in the negative, explaining that I was planning on fulfilling a dream of moving to Israel in June, and therefore could not commit to a serious job in the United States.

July 2013

One week before my 45th birthday, and rather than ignore the day as I normally do, I find myself playing the less than efficient "What If" game.  What if I had accepted that job offer 16 years ago?  Would I have ever come to Israel, or would I have stayed on the East Coast, eventually getting married and living in the dream house with a back yard and a literal white picket fence?

Would I have been happier?

It is rare for a person to be able to look back on their life and pinpoint the exact moment that they made a choice, a life-altering decision that set the path for the future.  I chose Israel at that moment in Business Class.

The next time I chose a path with the ultimate of consequences was that morning about six years ago that I woke up and said to myself, "I'm ready. I'm ready to be a mother, even without a husband, because I don't want to miss the amazing opportunity to be pregnant, to feel a life growing inside me, and to watch that child grow every day."

I am fairly certain that Raphaela would not exist if I had not come to Israel to build a life.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Graduation Day II

Similar to experience on Purim this past year, the lead up and the overwhelm of the party, her classroom overflowing with her classmates and all their parents set Raphaela into a tailspin at the beginning of the Graduation Party and ceremony.  But we worked through it and got past it, and were able to enjoy the truly moving event.

First their music teacher led the children through a fun adventure with chickens, a really large dancing clock, a baking session and a parachute toss.  Then each little person was called up to the front of the class to receive their nursery school diploma, which read (in Hebrew):

"For excellence in the performance of playing in the yard, doing art projects, having curiosity, cooking and baking, enthusiastic dancing, singing and participation in the daily morning meeting. As well as treating your friends with consideration, and for expressing boundless joy and happiness."

And yes, I cried just a little when Raphaela ventured to the front, shook the Gan manager's hand, and received this beautiful piece of paper.

In addition, they presented each parent with a series of six photos, commemorating the major Jewish holidays on the calendar and charting each child's growth. All day I can't stop looking at this portfolio, and thinking to myself, "I can't believe this is my daughter!  I am so blessed..."

At the end of the ceremony they showed a video in which each child was asked to express a wish or hope for the future.  About 50% of the children asked for a little brother or sister; 40% talked about monetary and material things, like, "I want G-d to buy me three bottles of water and my parents to take me to the zoo."  " I want my father to succeed at work."  "I want my parents to buy me lots of toys and dolls."

Honorable mention goes to the little girl who wished for her mother to become a Queen.  The award for most pious goes to the boy who wished for the rebuilding of the Third Temple in Jerusalem.

One little boy surprised me, when he had had play dates with Raphaela his behavior had been wild and selfish, and yet his wish was this his little brother be healthy and happy.  It taught me that there is much more inside each human being than meets the eye.

My daughter wished that we all have the strength to accomplish our goals.  Wow.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Graduation Day I

Today marks Raphaela's official graduation from nursery, she transitions next year into the Municipal school system.  Thank goodness, however, her actual program finishes in August, so I don't have to worry about child care for the Summer just yet.

She has been revving herself up for this party for over a week, and insisted upon wearing her finest and most colorful outfit in honor of the occasion: 

On the way to Gan, we walked past a soldier in full uniform and weaponry returning to his base after Tisha B'Av.  Raphaela asked me, "Who is that? What is he carrying?"  I told her that it was a proud Israeli soldier, a brave man who protects us.

Raphaela replied, "I don't need his help.  I have my Mommy to help me and protect me."

Fasting and Remembering

What to do on the Jewish fast day of Tisha B'Av, the most somber of the memorial days in which we mourn for the Temple in Jerusalem and for the destruction of the Jewish community in ancient Israel.

Personally I could have taken the day to stay in bed and rest, but with a four year old who has a day off from Gan, that is hardly possible.  In between preparing food for Raphaela while fasting, she and I found ourselves with very little structure and lots of time.

I pulled out the photo albums, all of them,  and I told my daughter stories; about my life as a single person, about our extended family, about being pregnant with her and about the adventures we have had together since she came on the scene. Perhaps this represents the meaningful interpretation for this sad day, reminding ourselves that we are loved and that we must care for each other, as Jews and as fellow human beings.

Afterwards, Raphaela asked if we could go to the local bakery, where she intended on ordering "the usual" IE a passion fruit slushie and two chocolate chip cookies.  I reminded her that today is a sad day and that Mommy is fasting.  Raphaela understood and said that tomorrow would be a happier day for the Temple and Jerusalem, and we could both eat cookies at the bakery.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

In the heat of the Israeli Summer, Raphaela goes to sleep with a full set of pajamas and they somehow disappear by the morning.  The long days have not changed her predilection for the early hours, and our day starts between five and five thirty am.

Raphaela: (Looking bleary eyed and wearing only her birthday suit, comes into my room and wakes me up)  Mommy, I have to get dressed!
Me:  (Bleary eyed and vaguely annoyed)  It's not a rush, after all, it's not like we have a party to attend at this hour.
Raphaela: (Eyes brightening) Oh, not so! We must get ready for the birthday party!
Me:  Whose birthday party?
Raphaela:  The vowels, it's their birthday.

Within five minutes she returned, fully clothed in a party dress and her fancy Shabbat shoes; pulling off my covers, she chastised me for my slothfulness, "Nu nu, are you ready yet for the party?"

This child will keep me young, and thank goodness for that.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Magical Radar

Tonight I attended a meeting of the Israel Barnard Alumnae Club, which featured the highly accomplished President of Barnard College, Debora Spar, with a fantastic view of the Old City of Jerusalem.  She addressed the core issue of the modern woman, the need to be all things to everyone; and the fact that the Feminist movement, rather than freeing women to pursue the life of their choosing, has further imprisoned them with heightened expectations of perfection, and the continued traditional responsibility for the family.

Spar reported that in the United States, mothers spend an average of 38 hours per week on housework, over and above "real jobs" either part time or full time.  The participation of husbands/fathers in housework has increased from seven minutes to two hours per week, still a drop in the bucket, however appreciated.

I always enjoy being surrounded by the company of like-minded women, and college is easily the one time in my life that I would gladly repeat.

I left Raphaela with a new baby sitter, and managed to avoid the urge to call and check in on their activities throughout the evening. Of course, when I walked through the door (way past Raphaela's bedtime) she had magically woken up only minutes before, she somehow knew that I was on my way home.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Reading Material

When my brother and I were young, we would eat our breakfast with cereal boxes in front of our noses, fascinating and essential reading. 

Raphaela and I have begun a new tradition with our morning cereal:  I bought a 2012-2013 calendar from the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and each day we change the picture to see and learn about the day's work of art, a sampling of the vast collection of the place that was my second home when I lived in The City.

Yesterday featured a 1904 Stickley Brothers Cabinet, made of oak wood cedar and mahogany, and with two beautiful stained glass windows for the doors.  They don't make furniture like this anymore, and I certainly could not find a pure wood closet at the local Israeli IKEA.

I asked Raphaela what she would place inside a cabinet like this, and I taught her a little about the art of stained glass.  Then Raphaela said, "I like this so much.  Mommy, after you drop me off at Gan tomorrow, can you go buy me a cabinet like this?"

Sure, my child, as soon as I step into my Tardis...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summer Camp Memories

Ah, Eagle Day Camp!  The local Jewish Day Camp in our area in New Jersey, all of the kids from the neighborhood went there, and we spent two quality months swimming and putting on plays and playing dodge ball.  The camp had their own uniform, an Eagle Day Camp t-shirt, and so getting dressed in the morning required no thought or planning.

Years later I worked as a bus counselor and Lifeguard at the Jacob and Rose Grossman Day Camp in Boston, and saw the experience from the other side, and found it just as enjoyable.  The Lifeguards were the coolest staff in camp, if you ignored the snakes and snapping turtles in the lake.  We saw the kids for a half hour at a time and then they returned to their haggard bunk counselors.  We got to walk around in our bathing suits all day. 

One of those summers, on Parents' Day, one very ambitious six year old boy decided to show his parents how well he knew the crawl stroke, and found himself in deeper water than he expected.  I was already dressed in my favorite Yankees pullover, when I saw him struggling in the water.  Without thinking, I jumped into the water and pulled him out, performing this dramatic rescue in front of all the parents and staff present.  For years the story was told and became legend, and my younger brother would boast proudly, "That was my sister!"

This year, in Jerusalem, I must admit that I am spoiled and have no right to complain.  Raphaela's Gan finishes at the beginning of August, and then she will attend a week long camp for bilingual (Hebrew/English) speaking children.  There are only two weeks before school begins again, where I must obtain a baby sitter and make plans to work around Raphaela's lack of schedule.

Most Israeli parents have had vacation since July.  Many of the pre-school programs arrange what they call Camp:  same teachers, same facilities, less hours and less structure, for which they charge extra so that parents may continue to work, albeit part-time.  Then you can send your child to a camp here, a camp there, for one to three weeks at a time and again, pay more money for these brief programs than you did all year for nursery.

A friend of mine and mother of three said to me today, "I work all year so I can send my kids to camp for two months."

Next year, when Raphaela will officially participate in the Municipality school system, I will struggle with the same issues as these parents, more vacation days than she has ever had before.  Paradoxically, the new incompetent Minister of Finance claims that his sole purpose is to encourage families and especially women to enter the workforce.  But how is a mother or father supposed to keep a normal workday if their children have no program or supervision for two months out of the year?  And how am I as a single mother supposed to work a full schedule when I have no one at all to pick up the slack?

Recently I celebrated my 16th anniversary of my move to Israel;  I noted to a friend today that  Israel is my home and for all its flaws I am here to stay.  However, Israel could learn from the American institution of consistent, high quality, cost-effective summer camps.  With youth centers scattered all over the country (paid for by the overwhelming profits of the Israeli Lottery), nursery school staff and eager teenagers, the infrastructure already exists.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Spam is everywhere, on our computers and our smart phones, and in our mailbox.  I have become accustomed to the expectation that almost every day my mailbox will be full of very little useful actual letters, and mostly fliers for some course or some restaurant or some fix-it professional.

Yesterday when Raphaela and I returned from Gan, the floor of the lobby of our building was littered, like snow, with the day's supply of spam fliers.  Israelis in general tend to pay less attention to garbage lying on the ground, because "someone else will pick it up" and eventually someone else will clean up the planet when we are long gone.

I recycle what I can and what Jerusalem allows at the moment, mostly paper and plastic, and if you can find a recycling center, batteries and old tech.  For some reason - the blistering heat, my lack of sleep, my becoming more Israeli after 16 years - on this day I walked right past the junk on the floor and toward the elevator.

My daughter stopped me and said, "Mommy, who made this mess?"  When I didn't immediately respond, she said, "Mommy, someone has to pick it up!"  And when I didn't immediately react, Raphaela pulled me over to the papers and the fliers, handed them to me and said, "Mommy, WE have to clean it up and recycle.  We can't walk by and just leave it here."

Courtship RIP

Yesterday afternoon

Text Message:  Hi, it's me!

(Thinking it could be a confused patient, I call back the number and get the answering machine for some clinic that I do not recognize.  I leave a message that I don't know who this is, but if you need help please call me back.)

Text Message:  I'm busy right now for the next two hours. So I'll see you at 8 pm.
Me Text:  Who are you?  Do I know you?  Had we actually set any plans together?
Text Message:  You don't know me.  Your cousin gave me your number so we could be introduced.
Me Text   Dude, first things first, you didn't even tell me your name.  Secondly, I'm sure that my cousin told you that I have a child.
Text Message:  She did.
Me Text:  That being said, I cannot spontaneously plan an evening with you, because I have to arrange a baby sitter. 
Me Text:  Don't you think it would be better if we perhaps had a phone conversation first, even briefly, before we make other plans?  What's your name?
Text Message:  Apologies!
Me Text:  (sighing inside)  OK, so my daughter goes to sleep around 8:30.  You can call me after that, but DON'T call this cell phone. It is my work phone and I tend to ignore it in the evenings.  Here is my land line number.  I also tend to go to sleep by 10:30 pm.
Text Message:  Thanks.

(11 pm, cell phone rings.  I barely register it because I am in deep sleep.  This morning I check and there is a message from this Mystery Man/Boy who is apparently clueless and a terrible listener.)

Phone Message:  Hi, it's me!  And I will be awake all night so feel free to call any time. You have my number.


English-Free Zone?

Although Gan for Raphaela officially ends on August 4th this year, July begins the season of Summer, the season of camp and the "Great Vacation."  From what I understand, Raphaela has the same teachers and the same basic schedule but they change it up a little, so the staff and the kids can get through the next month.

The manager of the Gan specifically approached me to let me know that in honor of the Great Vacation they had introduced a new activity, an English lesson for the children.  According to my bilingual daughter, today they introduced the concept of "up/down," "closed/open" and "hello/goodbye."  There are in fact many bilingual children in her class of 34, so I imagine several of them including Raphaela must have felt very comfortable; especially since we are already deep into early reading in English.

I think that all Israeli parents should introduce their Hebrew speaking children to English, as it is the language of the Internet and hence of the planet at the moment.  A high level of the international language would grant any child an advantage when they eventually enter the adult world.

 However, I feel like this sabotages other plans in place for the year:  since September, her teachers have made a concerted effort to teach my daughter that Hebrish is not an easily understood language, that we (the royal We that is my offspring) speak English at home and Hebrew in school. Only last week did the Head Teacher proudly exclaim victory, that for the first time the entire nine hour day passed and not a word of English escaped from her mouth.

I hope that the introduction of English does not set her back, since Raphaela will need fluent Hebrew to excel in the Israeli school system.

Meanwhile, I am brushing up on my Chinese, since soon they will become the owners of the entire planet.