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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Today’s Menu, Tomorrow’s Mincings

English:

Image via Wikipedia

What my kid ate for supper:

  • 1/2 a fish stick
  • 5 pieces of whole wheat pasta
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/2 slice cheese
  • 6 pieces of whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce and cheese
  • 2oz of orange juice
  • ¼ of a yogurt

What my kitchen floor ate:

  • 4 ½ fish sticks
  • ½ cup whole wheat pasta
  • ½ slice of cheese
  • 2 cups of whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce and cheese
  • 6oz of orange juice
  • ¾ of a yogurt
  • 1 challah roll slathered in cream cheese

I call him my anorexic kid. He plays with his food, swirls it around his plate, cuts it up, looks at it closely, but does not eat it.

He also doesn’t drink milk, hence the high dairy content to attempt a compensation. I tried giving it to him again the other day, he took a swig (after resisting for a half hour), held it in his mouth for a moment, then let it all dribble out like a madman onto the chair he was standing on – the chair with the spongy cushion, which will soon smell like spoiled milk.

The doctor says he’s underweight, even if everyone else thinks he’s a chubba-wubba.

Any suggestions?

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Humor, Parenting

 

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“Poop”spective

My kid pooped in the tub today. I write that like it’s something new; it’s not. He seems to do it every time he takes a bath. The whole thing is perfectly planned, as the water is going down, near the end, he’ll start crouching and I know what’s coming.

And I have to clean and disinfect the whole bathtub because when I try to pick up the poop with a stack of tissues, it usually breaks apart and floats away in a million itty bitty pieces. I reek like Lysol, which I suppose is a better reek than others. Sometimes I wonder what I prefer.

If he did it before I gave him a bath, then, I have to wipe him down before the bath, dump him in the bath and clean him again.

If he did it after, then I basically cleaned him for nothing, and I have to wipe him down, change his diaper, the gantza gesheft.

If he does it when he currently does it, it’s a clean wipe, and even though I’m complaining about cleaning the bathtub, it’s actually easier than cleaning him (hint: the tub doesn’t resist or fight back)

I asked my mother in the classic “Would you rather…” form.

“Bathtub, just scoop it up in a cup and it’s done.”

Ahhhh, a cup, that’s genius, I am now happy with my lot.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in Humor, Parenting

 

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The Faults We See in Others…

He pushed up an imaginary pair of glasses. I think he was surprised when his hand touched the bridge of his nose, and nothing else. He probably just got contacts, no other logical explanation other than insanity, and he seemed normal enough so far.

So far, key word I had found during dating. Everything was fine, ok, normal – so far. And then in every case “so far” would pass, and I’d be left disappointed. I’ve been dating for five years and I have never had my heart broken yet, I say that out of incredulity, not pride. Is there something wrong with me, or just with the guys I’ve dated that I’ve never been hurt, only disappointed when I realized that this guy, whatever number he was just expired his “so far” card. And I’d find them to be either immature, boring, shallow, a pathological liar, an idiot, a narcissist, very often a combination package, and on special occasions, all of the above.

“Have you been to Israel?” he asked. I twirled the straw in my seltzer, and leaned forward – positive body language.

“Yes, many times. I have cousins living there, and my family used to spend out summers there.” He looked surprised, his eyes opened wider.

“That’s really nice,” he commented. “So you must have an opinion on the country, being there so often.” My straw got another twirl. This was boring. Israel’s boring. He’s boring. I want to go home.

“Well, I try to keep politics aside, and just enjoy the experience.” Big smile, some gum, sparkling teeth: Try another topic loser.

He glanced around the room, eyes darting to find something to talk about.

“I was recently in Israel, had a very different experience than I ever had before.”

Still on Israel? He’s talking about himself without my prompting, he must be really desperate for conversation. I was supposed to ask now what was different. I don’t care though, and he’s boring, so it’s probably some blah inspiring story about nothing.

“Oh,” I said. That was enough to get him going for a half hour about every detail of his trip, where he davened maariv, and who actually makes the best laffa. A half hour was all we needed, he hit the two and half hour mark, the ride home was 25 minutes, it would be a three hour date, no explanations necessary, shalom al yisroel.

“I’m sorry,” and she seemed sincere. “But he didn’t think it would go anywhere.”

“It’s ok,” I reassured her.

“You’re still a wonderful girl, I don’t think any less of you” What? What’s that supposed to mean, where’s that coming from, what did he say about me?

“Oh.” Was emitted on my end. There was a pause of consideration from her.

“Maybe if you weren’t so centered on your own needs and entertainment.” her voice picked up speed, “Y’know, be mature, have some depth, and sincere reaction —“

I hung up on her.

Doesn’t every girl aspire for more than she is herself?

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2012 in Writing

 

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My Father’s Hands

My father expressed his love with his hands: a handshake, a hug, a pat on the back, and I was ashamed.

They were large, smooth, and warmest to touch. With a pat on my head, a squeeze on my shoulders, and on cold winter days, enveloping my hands in his to warm up, I knew my father loved me. But I didn’t want anyone to see them.

Do you know the intoxicating smell of ink? No, not pen ink, but the real stuff, the pails of densest black, seafaring blue, and Snow White’s, blood red. That’s what was imprinted on my father’s hand, embedded in every crevice, snaking every line: dried ink. Printer’s hands.

He’d wash his hands every day, scrub them really, with a brush course enough for your kitchen tiles, but the ink stained, blemished, tarnished and everyone thought they knew who my father was: a laborer.

They saw the back support belt when he carried the large shipments of paper into the store. They saw the dirty apron he wore, to protect his clothes. They smelled the high of the ink, and heard the clanging, suction, and rotations of the machines. And they saw his hands. Even on Shabbos, even by simchas, dressed in a Marcy’s suit, they saw his hands, his ink stained hands. And he was blue collar. And I was ashamed.

Two times a year they were pure, Succos and Pesach; he didn’t work on Chol Hamoed, so there was time for repeated washings without repeated contact. My father did those days, what his heart wanted the time to do every day, listen to a shiur, do a chessed, and really, love his family. I loved my father back those days. And I’d squeeze his hand in return; he was what I knew him to be: a ben Torah. For those moments, I was proud of him. I even took pictures of his clean hands.

Time has changed the printing process. Gone are the offset presses; everything is digital now. No more noise, plates, dark rooms, negatives, and no more ink. There are no more pails of ink, only drums and cartridges keeping my father safe from exposure. His hands are white these days. Clean, pure these days. Though I’ve grown older, and come to appreciate the stained ink, the dedication, the hard work, effort and sacrifice they represent; it’s still nice to hold my father’s hand today, hands that now reflect his heart.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Memoir, Writing

 

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Raising an Individual

Mommy

Image by liquene via Flickr

I was in one of those ponderous moods, the ones where you start to think about life’s deep questions that don’t really make much of a difference whether you have answer or not, or even if you have an answer, nothing’s changing, if it’s accurate or not.

So my question was, at what point is my son no longer an extension of me, but rather his own individual being. When can I no longer say, that he is I, but rather, just, he’s mine. I’d like to think that my kid would always be an extension of me; I love him so much, more than me, really. Him becoming an individual, well, part of me feels almost like it’s a betrayal to my love – aren’t I good enough?

Well, I came up a vague answer, something like, when he exhibits his own will. But I wasn’t really buying it, because babies exhibit their own will and desires from day one, and we, the adults submit to them.

And then I thought, when he does something that shows he’s an individual. Eh, to that too, not really quantifiable.

But it was ok that no definitive answer was reached, the mood passed, and I was on to more pressing matters, like how to remove pen ink from the toilet seat cover.

The next day, while playing with my son, I put out my arms for him to come to me. He looked my square in the face, and then shrugged is shoulder. I didn’t read the gesture at first, and reaffirmed my outstretched arms, and he shrugged again. This time I noticed. Where’d he pick that up?

And then the next day, I handed him a book, and instead of coming to sit on my lap, as he usually would, he raised the book over his head, and said,

“Un, doo, doo” and threw the book to the floor. I was puzzled, not really getting what he just did. But before I could question too much, he proceeded to pick the book up, raise it above his head again, repeat “Un doo doo,” and he threw it to the floor – again. A moment’s thought and I realized he was counting presumably to three, and throwing the book. How odd a behavior, where did he think to do that?

And then finally on the next next day, I asked my son, like all mothers do, in a high pitched rhetorical question voice, “E, right you love Mommy, right you love Mommy?!” And instead of looking at me dumbfounded, or possibly giggling, he responded,

“Nu- uh.” I ashamedly retorted with a mature “Yu-huh” before I even recognized the exchange.

First a shrug, then counting (and violence), and now a premature teenager doubting his mother’s love with a nu-uh? My kid was learning stuff, and it wasn’t from me. The obvious answer was, (cue ominous music) –the babysitter. The next day (which is the day after the next next day for those keeping track), I confirmed my suspicions with the babysitter.

“Do the kids shrug here? Do they count to three and throw stuff, do they say nu-uh” I demanded more than asked, in an indignant accusatory tone. She laughed – quite heartily, I’d say.

“Yes, they do, and your son, he likes to play with the big boys, so he’s always copying them, and learning from them, adorable, no?” she answered in her jovial Israeli accent.

And I then had an “Aha” moment. My son was no longer me. He was no longer me, because I was no longer his sole source of influence. But don’t I teach him enough, I protested to myself, don’t I teach him everything he needs to know, why am I not enough.

My son presses every nose he can lay his hands on (mine, the doll’s, the stuffed dog’s, the neighbor’s newborn) and says “Beep Beep.” I taught him that. Score one for Mommy influences, and I was feeling better

But then he went down the slide headfirst in the park the other day –It was so freakin’ cute, but I definitely didn’t teach him that, though maybe I should have, and maybe it’s a good thing there’s someone else who did.

It takes a village to raise a child, no?

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Parenting, Slice of Life

 

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SuperWoman: Reality or Myth

Pinwheels, makes me think of little kids with spittle flying out of their over-puffed cheeks, blowing on shiny metallic plastic. And then it makes me think of a pastry confection that real almost only in my mind

My mother used to make pinwheel cookies. Pastry dough, measured, and cut into perfect squares. Then with precise cuts, and folds, she made pinwheels. With ground walnuts, apricot jam, and sugar in the center, baked, and then dusted with confectioner’s sugar, they were a beauty to see, as well as eat.

Memories of my mother making them are vague, I remember seeing them on the counter, waiting to be baked, as well as a faint whiff of baked nuts and pastry dough as I bit into them. I don’t know my mother as a woman who patchkes, my older sister remember this side of her, down to the ruler she used to measure the pastry squares. To me my mother will always be practical. Go to the bakery practical.

I always saw women who patchked as otherworldly. Who were these people the time and patience, and most of all, the wherewithal to make these things. Make things like wrap their own gifts like a department store, make Royal Icing cookies to rival the professional designs, make their own techina and tomato dip that tasted right and real. I was always in secret awe and envy of these women. Superwomen I called them.

And slowly, slowly, the longer I am married, I find myself becoming my own dream. Not because I chose to pursue it, but pressure and necessity brings out the best in me.

I make my own techina and tomato dip (the tomato dip is awesome, techina, not so, my husband still prefers Golden Taste). I wrap my own gifts, and while there’s a way to go, I’m not embarrassed of them. And then this past week – I succeeded fully in one endeavor. I created the pinwheels.

I called my mother and asked her for the recipe and instructions. And took what was a childhood memory for me, and passed it on to my own. They came out beautiful, and the person whose Shalom Zachor I sent them to, asked me how it was done – she had never seen something like it (that really made me feel like I was achieving Super status).

It’s empowering, to take a challenge, like a lack of financial resources and do something you never thought was in your lazy-self’s realm. My cape is on backorder, but my superpowers are here to stay.

 

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Slice of Life

 

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Hairy Situation

Countess of Artois by Dumont

Image via Wikipedia

My students were very upset today, so naturally they came complaining to me. No, not because I’m the wise and sagely, guiding light inspiration of a teacher, but they’re scared of Macbeth, well, not really scared, they’re just not in the mood of thinking.

In any case, what were they up in arms about this time you ask. The school scheduled their graduation pictures for 10:00 in the morning. The fastest and smartest girl called up the salon and made her hair appointment for 9:15 in the morning. After her, well, there would be none, or the girls would be late, which was unacceptable.

And my students need their hair blown.

This timing was not done without consideration to the students’ need. Their mental needs though, not physical. The administration does not want there to be a pressure among the girls to have their hair professionally done, so in order to circumvent the inevitable pressure, they made the scheduling of said professional hair, near impossible.

Forget that Seniors are told that their graduation picture will predict their marital success, but focus on the larger picture of peer pressure.

These girls are in 12th grade, they’ve spent a good portion of their academic career being told about the evils of peer pressure, and to love themselves. Constantly told, “when you’re faced with peer pressure, when you start to feel jealous, when you start to feel down on yourself…”

Why is it “when” it should be is.

School is a microcosm of the real world, the same emotions and challenges, just on smaller scales, and where it’s ok to fail, and learn – where the consequences aren’t as dire. And you’ll get another chance.

The administration is coddling these girls, making everyone equal, because G-d forbid we wouldn’t want someone to feel bad about themselves, and their place in life.

Isn’t 12th grade a time to start transitioning a bit? It’s just a blow-out.

Or am I the one missing something.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Teaching

 

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