Friday, November 14, 2014

Gan Birthday Party, The Main Event

Today, loaded with bags of costumes (for the re-enactment of the classic Israeli children's book, Grandfather Eliezer and the Giant Carrot) and enough food to feed the Israeli army, four proud parents celebrated the fifth birthday, the first official party of the year.

The excitement could not be contained, and not just for the honorees but for all 35 of the students of Gan Devorah.  The Head Teacher first led the class in the normal morning routine of singing and Jewish prayer; then she formally invited the parents to join in, and dance. Lots of joyous dancing! There was the perfect balance between involving all the kids, and making special notice of the three birthday girls and the birthday boy.

At one point, each child was asked to choose three friends to give them a personal blessing, and surprisingly, my daughter chose three of the boys in her class.  Even the teacher could be seen shaking her head and smiling in the unexpected move.

Following the "Mother's Dance," the teacher invited the men of the family to play a modified game of Marco Polo.  Amazingly, both Raphaela and I were blessed with the presence of my brother, who moved to Israel with his family this past August.  Raphaela was overwhelmed with joy that she was surrounded by family and could participate equally, that she was not left out of anything, for obvious lack of a father.

Then the four parents stepped and engineered a play that included all 35 children in the class, all in various costumes gathered from the Purim closets in all our houses.  Wildly successful, and we are thinking of taking the act to Broadway next.

On a final note, the teacher had said at the beginning of the year that this was a special group of kids, more intelligent and thus more "challenging...in a good way" than she has seen in previous years.  I can attest to that personally. 

Firstly, when I first took Raphaela to school today, one of the boys for no real reason started making fun of my daughter's dress, a step-up in fancy than the usual.  Before I even had a chance to open my mouth and defend my offspring, one of her girl friends said loud and clear, in front of the whole group seated there, "That's not nice, making fun of someone and hurting their feelings!"

[ I believe that mothers carry so much guilt at what we perceive we are not doing right, and we are not told often enough that our efforts have paid off.  So I immediately called this girl's mother and told her that she had raised a wise and brave and wonderful child.] 

Later, before the party, a group of  8-9 girls of Raphaela's friends, told me that I was the "Cool Mom," and they insisted that I play with them, sharing their stories and their feelings with me as we sat in a large circle.  I felt a happiness that I cannot express adequately, knowing that Raphaela is part of this beautiful group. Today as in all days,  I was proud to be (as the Israelis say) "The Mother of  Raphaela."

All parents want for their children is to know that they are loved and secure in all their relationships.



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