Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Show and Tell

Yesterday when I picked up Raphaela from Gan, she was so excited, anticipating an afternoon play date.  Her little friend came over and afterwards, in the bath, Raphaela casually mentioned that she may have forgotten an important note for me, that she may have left the "I have a Secret" box in school, and that she is pretty sure it has to do with the Hebrew letter "M."

And so I learned a new childhood concept in Hebrew, what I called Show and Tell in the United States is called "I have a Secret" in Israel.

Thank goodness for modern technology, because I then texted her teacher and her English instructor, learning that we are to bring at least two items that start with the Hebrew letter "N" and keep it hidden in the special box, which happened to left at her English lessons in another part of Jerusalem.

No worries, Raphaela and I scouted around the house, coming up with four different objects:
a piece of paper ("Niyar" in Hebrew)
a pair of shoes ("Naalayim" in Hebrew)
a large candle ("Ner" in Hebrew)
and a princess doll ("Nesicha" in Hebrew)

I wanted to include a snake ("Nachash") as well, but I could not find the toy in the house.  Another possibility, "Nescafe" [that's right, instant coffee] might have amused the teachers but confounded Raphaela's classmates

This morning we first stopped by the house of her English teacher to pick up the brightly decorated Show and Tell tool box, put our secret items inside and then continued on to her Gan.  When last I left Raphaela, she was guarding that box as if there were gold bars inside.

On the way home, I began thinking about the reality of an adult who moves to Israel, without the benefit of the experience of concepts and cultural ideas that we take for granted.  For example, when I go to the supermarket, I don't know the names of all the vegetables in Hebrew, because I did not grow up with native Hebrew speakers.  There are games and slang that Raphaela uses that she has to explain to me, and she will not learn clapping games like "Miss Mary Mack" unless I teach her.  They don't tell you when you make aliyah that there will always be this gap in understanding having nothing to do with objective intelligence, but rather an alternative childhood.

1 comment:

Batya Medad said...

When I think of all the stupid "cultural" mistakes I've made...