Monday, March 31, 2014

The Duchess of Cambridge

In my desperation to resolve the daily issues of getting dressed for Gan in the morning, and of choosing pajamas in the evening, I had written a letter to Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge;  I had requested that she tell Raphaela that Princesses are not forbidden to wear pants, and that they retain both their royalty and their ability to dance no matter what they are wearing.

Today, I received a response:

" connection with your daughter Raphaela, who has decided to live her life as a Princess. I can appreciate that her insistence on wearing only skirts and dresses can cause difficulties at times.

Please let her know that real life Princesses have to dress sensibly for the weather, to make sure they don't catch a cold or get ill. It would be very difficult to do all the things that Princesses have to do every day if they got ill."

As well, Her Royal Highness sent Raphaela a children's book written by Prince Charles and translated into Hebrew.

This letter will be laminated and placed on the wall of her room, right near her dresser, a reference and a preventative measure for the trauma that is choosing clothing each day, as befits a Princess of course.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Planning Ahead

Today, when picking up Raphaela from school, I could barely get in the door of the building, it was stuffed corner to corner with strollers.  As I went up the stairs, I could hear masses of adults flooding the classroom next to my daughter's, with all the children dressed to the nines and holding large bouquets of flowers.

I clarified, after asking several parents, that the Pre 1A class  were celebrating Grandparents Day. They had invited the entire family to attend this "fancy" nursery event:  parents, grandparents, and siblings of all ages, culminating in the presentation of flowers by the grandchild to the respective grandmother and/or grandfather.

The idea is beautiful, yes, but it immediately put me in a panic, thinking, "Next year Raphaela will  most likely be in this class with this teacher,  and when it comes to Grandparents Day she will have no one. Not grandparents and not a father and not a little brother or sister. Just a Mom who loves her beyond all imagining."

It made me sad.  I know that if my Uncle Bitzi were alive, he would have come to represent.   And it put me in a mood to start thinking about and planning for a year from now;  do I invite my parents if I can give them enough notice, assuming they can travel from Boston at that time?  Do I recruit family friends to appear as surrogate grandparents?

 How do I approach this topic with the teacher, without singling out Raphaela unnecessarily?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Forward

This morning Raphaela started poking me when the clock read five am.  Fine, I mumbled, give me another half hour.  At 5:30 I pulled myself out from under the covers, so pleased that I was getting an early start to the day.

I fed the fish, did some dishes and opened the front door, to find the International New York Times  waiting for me.  "Good," I thought to myself, "they are finally providing a decent service, now I don't have to call them and remind them to deliver the paper some time before the end of the day."

Raphaela and I put on our shoes to take Harry outside and to feed his street cat friends.  There were more cats than I had expected and there was more traffic on the road than usual for that time in the early morning.

When we came home again, I looked at the clock and thought, "So much time to kill this morning." And so, puttering around in my pajamas, I took out my iPad to check my email and play an online game with my friend from the United States.  The clock on the iPad read seven am and I grumbled, "Damn technology, doesn't the apple programming know that what time it is?  This is why I don't trust this modern stuff."

I stood in the kitchen and packed Raphaela's lunch, humming and giving my brain time to put together the pieces of the most obvious puzzle.

Give it a minute....then the penny dropped.

"SHIT! They changed the clocks last night!! At this rate Raphaela will get to Gan at nine in the morning, just about the time that patients start arriving!!!"

Raphaela asked why I had a panic-stricken look on my face, and I told her that I hate running late and arriving late.  I took the quickest shower on record, dressed Raphaela in whatever she wanted and we ran like demons to Gan.

Where we were only the third child to arrive, because apparently this scenario played itself out in almost every home in Jerusalem this morning.

Then I got myself the most amazing and most necessary cup of coffee from the bakery.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

He Who Must Not be Named

Raphaela wanted to play a game of pretend this afternoon, and she said, "Mommy, you can be The Cat in the Hat, I will be Sally and this [a doll] will be her brother, I."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

At the Wee Hours of the Morning

Inevitably, Raphaela ends up in my bed at some point during the night and except for minor crowding issues, we sleep.  Last night she slowly pushed me more and more to the edge of the bed, until I practically fell off around 4:30 am.

I switched positions, sleeping horizontally, a bit awkward but mostly effective;  until I found myself again half way onto the floor.

I went to the other side of the bed - the "Raphaela side" - placed my head on a pillow and tried to fall back asleep for another hour, before the official wake-up call.  In her sleep, Raphaela pulled the pillow away from me and mumbled loudly, "That's my side of the bed."

Taking one of the spare blankets, I moved myself to Raphaela's actual bedroom and settled into her bed, which at that moment was unoccupied.  Next thing I know, a child with curly hair and searching eyes is standing over me, poking me.

"You have my whole bed to yourself now, it's big and comfortable!" I said, "What's the problem now?"

"You're not there with me," replied Raphaela.

All this before five am.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jerusalem Marathon 2014

I made the run in two minutes under my projected time, my knees behaved very well all the way  through, and I am loaded up now with adrenaline.  My sports bra performed fantastically, and the weather was ideal. I finished squarely in the middle of the group, though there were some young children and grandparents who outran me.

Technically I ran the 5K, but with all the walking back and forth from my house to the start line and then back home again, and then to pick up Raphaela from her play date, it may as well have been 10K.  Next year I will either run the 10K myself, or I have been thinking about training for the next year with Raphaela for the 5K, so we can run together.

Happy Friday from the Jerusalem Marathon and Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mommy Gets a Time Out

My mother taught elementary school for close to 25 years, and  a damn good one at that.  Since I share many of my mother's facial features, I am often accosted by a stranger - usually about my age- on the streets of Jerusalem, with the enthusiastic exclamation, "You must be the daughter of my amazing third grade teacher. She's the reason I went on to get my PhD in...."

Growing up, we constantly heard in our house, "Whatever profession you choose, don't become a teacher!  You spend all day giving your kindness and patience to someone else's children, and then you have nothing left for your own."  Ultimately my mother left teaching and joined the business world, where she deals with frustrating grown-ups instead.

Since moving to Israel and becoming a parent, I have learned (the hard way) the virtue of balance in life IE work pays the bills but it represents a means to an end, toward more quality time for yourself and with your family.  But this past week has been totally disrupted by the holiday of Purim:  Raphaela had vacation from school from Friday and through Monday, and yesterday I overbooked my schedule.  I don't think I had even one minute that was not set aside for someone; a Chiropractic Board Meeting, patients at the clinic, a most necessary trip to the supermarket, phone calls and texts, picking up the runner's package for the Jerusalem Marathon on Friday, getting in a quick run before the Marathon on Friday, etc.

BTW, our day starts at five am, when either Harry sits on me and asks for breakfast, or Raphaela wakes up in tune to the rising of the sun.

By the time I had to pick up Raphaela from school in the afternoon, I felt physically exhausted and emotionally burnt out.  The candy loot from Purim taunted me, and it took all my will power not to inhale the junk food on the kitchen counter.  I had given and given and given, run and run and run all day.

Then Raphaela started with typical behavior for her age, pushing limits and asking questions in the cute sweet voice of hers, and trying to grab my undivided attention.  As well, as a single mother and the only adult in the house, no one else is going to volunteer to feed her dinner to set up her shower or tuck her into bed.

I blew up, not because Raphaela's requests were unreasonable, but because my tank was empty, beyond empty, and I could not even stand the idea of my daughter standing near my personal space.

I explained to Raphaela that Mommy was very tired, and that little things that are normally no big deal might make me say or do things that might be unusual or scary.  I told her that I was going to lock myself in my bedroom for an hour or so, gave her some of her favorite books to read, and set her up with an A-B-C video in front of the computer.

I gave myself a Time Out, and then once Raphaela fell asleep, the accumulated stress of the day kept me awake, so I cruised the Internet for hard core comedy, anything to make me laugh and smile again.

The Universe tests our resolve, do we really "mean it" when we say that our family comes first?  Well I learned yesterday that when my Inner Voice starts shrieking, it is time to take some items off the agenda and forgive myself for my perfect imperfections.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Purim Costume Parade 2014

The Gan Purim Party, Friday

Purim Day One, Sunday

Shushan Purim, Day Two


The beautiful bride received a large dowry of candies and treats.
Back to Gan and routine tomorrow, just in time for the Marathon on Friday.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Will we be the Ten Percent?

It is a well known fact that about 10% of all nursery children in Israel freak out the day of the massive country-wide Gan Purim party.

Last year in Gan, there was so much advance buildup to the holiday of Purim, that when the actual day of the Purim party in Gan arrived, it traumatized Raphaela and me, and she would not even consider wearing her costume during the entire vacation weekend.  My daughter was the ten percent.

This year, I decided to remove any expectation of fun or cooperation; hope for the best but expect the worst.  I took the costumes out of the closet one week ago and put them in a basket, so that Raphaela could (or could not) play with them at will.  Every time she asked me about the holiday or the party, I said, "Soon..." and avoided details or any sign of excitement.  I only marginally got her involved in preparations and shopping for Mishloach Manot, hiding away the supplies until the day that we would put the gift packages together for some of her friends.

All this psychological pressure, added to the fact that the news has predicted rain all week, after a terribly dry Israeli Winter.  My daughter does not normally react well to inclement weather, and I know that she would not want to get her treasured costume wet.

And Lo, on the day that was Friday of the Gan Purim Party, the rain was not that awful, Raphaela joyfully wore her costume and celebrated the day with friends, dancing and handing out Mishloach Manot.  She did even sleep in her Fairy Princess outfit, sans wings.

The difference a year makes, it put us squarely back in the non-traumatized 90%.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We are the Champions

I had been putting off the renewal of Raphaela's passport, because who wants to sit in a government office with an active  little girl, when you can procrastinate;  after all, we plan on traveling in July for my brother's wedding and that seems very far away.

Except that once April begins, the requests for passports will fly through the roof, and we would spend hours upon hours waiting our turn in line, and weeks upon weeks to receive the new documents.  So this morning bright and early - actually not so bright, but rather in the cold pouring Jerusalem rain - Raphaela and I drove to the Ministry of the Interior.  I brought along snacks and markers and coloring books and my iPad for entertainment, and prepared for the unpleasantness that is Israeli beaurocracy.

Except that as a Type A personality, we arrived so early that our number in line was "001," and we were in and out within fifteen minutes, with Raphaela arriving at Gan much earlier than I expected, hardly even late by any one's standards.

As we got into the car to go to Gan, Raphaela looked at me with a smile and said, "Now we can get on an airplane to the wedding, see my cousins, and I can wear make up!"

Monday, March 10, 2014

Modern Motherhood

My mother sent us a package from the States with home made cookies for Purim, and this morning, as Raphaela was eating one of them, she exclaimed, "Yummy, Bubby is a very good baker!"

Then Raphaela paused, and turned to me and said, "And you are very good at shopping, Mommy."

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Daughter the Running Coach

Raphaela knows that normally I exercise while she is in school, but on Friday afternoons, I have no choice but to run with her at home.  She knows that I will allow her to watch one of her videos for at least part of the time, so I can focus.

This Friday I kept putting off my run until Raphaela said, in the most sympathetic tone and with the sweetest smile possible, "Mommy, don't you want to start your run?  Don't you want to feel really good and healthy?"

Victory for the Chiropractor, whose daughter has obviously absorbed the lessons of good health and the body's power to heal.  Victory for the daughter of the Chiropractor, who has learned how to create a win-win situation and use all the right words to accomplish her goal.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Walking to Gan this morning with Raphaela, I began to notice a man in his 60's trailing slowly behind us, randomly smiling in my direction and trying to get my attention.  He caught up to us and then experienced the least successful pick-up, since the creation of Adam and Eve.

Man:  Your granddaughter is adorable.
Me:  (Sending him the Glare of Death)  This is my daughter.
Man:  (Determined to see this through) Well I am sure you would make a really hot grandmother some day.
Me:  (Transmitting a super-sized Glare of Death)
Man:  Sorry, never mind.

He quickly scurried away before the scene got any more humiliating, and I could hear him muttering under his breath, "Stupid, stupid, stupid!"

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A very close friend of mine, with a daughter Raphaela's age, is due to give birth this week to her second child.  We saw them on Shabbat and my daughter got very excited at the idea that I could also give birth to a baby brother or sister soon.

I pointed out the difference in size between my stomach and that of my friend, and Raphaela came over to my stomach, gave it a pat and said, "You could have an extremely small baby in there."