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Culturing Children

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 22nd week, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She looked at me, her face a mixture of awe and disgust.

“I know you want your kid to all cultured and educated, but don’t you think you’re starting a bit young?”

I gave her a blank look, having no idea what she was referring to.

“Your kid just said he’s going to the Mona Lisa.”

“What?” I said. “He didn’t say that.

“I swear he did.”

I can’t remember the last time I even thought about the Mona Lisa.” I protested.

Just then my kid scooted up in his Cozy Coupe,

“Mommy, I go Momo Leesa.” And then pitter-pattered away as fast his feet could pedal.

“See,” she pointed after my son.

I just laughed at my sister,

“That’s Morah Aliza, his babysitter, he’s going to. The other place he goes to is ‘sheeva’ to ‘lorn’. How’s that for cultured and educated.”

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Humor, Jewish

 

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The Dougie

I felt so powerless yesterday. And bewildered. And Unsure. With a good ole dose of horror.

My husband and I were watching our son play in our complex’s playground. He wasn’t feeling all that well, and ended up just sitting next to me, on a bench, beneath the shade.

He pointed out the tree, and the birdies, and the squirrel. He was happy, and so was I.

On the other side of the playground I could see a procession coming toward our area. There were about 12 boys ranging in age from about 4-8 and a girl, in a gorilla costume. Forget the fact that it’s Shabbos and she’s dressing up in Purim costumes, and forget that this is a lot of boys and one girl, but focus on my son. He saw the girl, or rather the gorilla and started whimpering

“Ah doogie, Ah doogie!” he pointed and started to cry. He pulled himself closer to me, and I waved my hands to the kids, indicating to stay away. They noted, smiled, and came closer.

I’ve never seen my son scared. He’s as macho as they come. Trips, falls, scrapes, he just brushes them off- literally. He brushes off the dirt, the blood the mess, and continues on. Sometimes he’ll come to me and say,

“Dooty” when his broad strokes don’t get rid of the dirt.

And now my son was cowering, crying,

“Doogie, bye bye, Doogie bye bye”

The kids came even closer.

“Please stay away.” I beseeched. “Don’t you see you’re scaring him, and making him upset. That’s not nice is it?” I reasoned. The gorilla hesitated, but the boys egged her on, and she came even closer.

My kid shrieked more and my husband growled,“Go away now! What do you think you’re doing!” The kids laughed, but dispersed.

My kid was now crying freely, clutching me for dear life, and I wiped away a tear, my own tear.

Later at home, while eating supper, my kid kept going on,

“Doogie go bye bye. Doogie go ‘way!”

And I reassured him that the doggie wasn’t coming back. A few moments respite, and he started on the “Doogie” refrain. This went on for a while.

And that wasn’t all that happened in the park yesterday. My kid was sitting a low ledge on the playground, little feet dangling slightly. A boy of about 5 approached him, stuck his face into his, and then without warning or provocation slapped my kid 5 times across the face. I jumped to my feet (as much as overdue woman can jump) and aggressively marched towards my son (about 20 feet away). The boy saw me approaching and backed off.

“We don’t hit people,” I scolded. “Especially not little kids, that didn’t do anything to you.” He just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. My kid wasn’t really crying, just whimpering a little; he was mostly bewildered.

“Da boiy… da boiy” he repeated. He couldn’t seem to make sense about what just happened to him.

“Da boiy’s” mother had been sitting on the park bench next to me, engrossed in a fascinating conversation about getting children into school. She missed everything. I didn’t fill her in. It didn’t seem worth it, but her lack of awareness seemed to explain the previous “Doogie” incident with my son.

Where are the parents watching their children? Most of them are not present physically. And if they’re there physically, that doesn’t necessarily include mentally.

And with the Gorilla incident, I really don’t get these kids. First preying on a little kid, for G-ds sake he’s not even 2 yet! And then in front of his parents? We were right there! That didn’t stop them for a moment, maybe even gave them more impetus!

And my husband and I felt so powerless. What were we supposed to do? My logical reasoning of “it’s not nice” fell on deaf ears, so did my husband’s. I wanted to do them physical harm, yell at them, but knew it wouldn’t do anything. I’d have love to have chat with their mothers, but they weren’t present, and I’m not totally sure whose children they were.

What should we have done, and how can I protect my child?

He’s such a happy kid, but I’m afraid a few more slaps and “Doogie” incidents and he may turn into them, as a form of self-protection and preservation.

What am I, his mother supposed to do?(Besides for write this post, to vent) What should I have done then?

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Parenting, Slice of Life

 

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Of Apples and Oranges

Česky: Jablka jsou všeamericky úspěšná potravi...

Her tongue darted around the crevices of her mouth trying to dislodge the almonds that got wedged between gaped teeth. A finger finished off the last remnants; she looked at the morsel, and popped it back into her mouth. I thought she was totally gross for doing that, but then I caught myself doing the same thing last night – just with potato chips.

Please tell me potato chips are worthier for such treatment than almonds. Because I can’t be like her, can’t have the same mannerisms and rationale. It’s a good thing it wasn’t apples either of us were eating, because then even I’d feel the irony of “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Parenting, Uncategorized

 

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Do Nothing For Perfect Children

Calling someone lazy today is akin telling them that they’re worthless, useless, parasitic and would possibly be more productive serving as fertilizer compost (dead). In the days of rising unemployment, laziness, is the worst possible trait a person could possess. It’s screams SELFISH and IRRESPONSIBLE. Unfortunately, I’ve been bestowed this title a few times in my short years (I like a good book over a clean room, are you seriously going to fault me for that?!). Yet, every trait has its balance I reassure myself, it’s measurement – or  middah so to speak. So what good can possibly come from my do-nothing-frog tendencies?

My child’s development for one. I firmly believe that the reason my child is so amiable and advanced is because he has a lazy tuchas for a mother.

Here’s just a brief glimpse at what laziness can accomplish.

  1. He sleeps though the night, mostly. And if he wakes up, I ignore him. At first it was because I was too lazy (and tired) and hoped he would just fall back asleep. Now, I know he will, and my doctor told me, the less intervention on my part with sleep, the better. Score one for me. Most first time moms would be running into their child’s room at the first peep to coddle them – not me.
  1. My sister in law told me that with her first child she would rock him to sleep in her arms. And if she saw he was falling asleep without her, she would dive in for the rescue, scoop him up, and made sure he fell asleep in her reassuring arms. I felt like an inadequate unloving mother when she relayed this to me, comparative of course with what I did. When my kid was happy, I put him down, if he was sleepy, I put him down, it he was calm, I put him down. But look now, my child is independent; hers is clingy.
  1. Chairs, steps, couches, people, you name it, my kid has scaled it. Height doesn’t matter (not his [which is short] nor the object in question) he can and will climb it. When my child tries to do something physically, and I’m sitting, lying, or otherwise occupied, I will not help him. He can whine, fall, and try again, all I’ll do is say encouraging things (“C’mon E, you can do it put a little power to it!”), maybe give suggestions (“Just turn your ankle, it’s stuck, no turn it, don’t grab at it, what’s that gonna help?!”). He usually succeeds, because I’m too lazy to do it for him.
  1. Small tasks, like putting something in the garbage, finding shoes, getting diapers, giving something to my husband, are all made easier with my little errand boy. And he’s been at it for months, when Baby Center tells me this should have been a recent development. I’m just too lazy to go and do it myself; it’s hard to find itty-bitty baby-shoes hidden between Mega Bloks and Matchbox!
  1. My kids been writing/scribbling for as long as I can remember. I know I shouldn’t give him a pen, but it’s not worth the energy of me prying it from him when he finds one, or dealing with his whining when he wants one – so I just give him blank paper and let him have a go at it. Same goes for drinking from a cup. (Yes, there were a few big spills in the beginning, but they were easier to clean, than me insisting on a sippy cup)

These skills started with me being lazy and then realizing later, “Oh, wow, I did something right.” Cool, no?

For someone who many people doubted possessed any maternal instinct, I make up for it, with my natural laziness.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Humor, Parenting, Uncategorized

 

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Made in G-d’s Image

Boldly she stood in the center of the room. Mirrors enveloped us, and neither of us could hide. I stood cowering in the corner; shoulders turned inward, my reflection only cast in small parameters of my reach. I wanted to be her, I watched as she pulled her shirt over her head efficiently, effortlessly, without thought, or consciousness.Her image refracted and bounced across the room, for all, especially me, to admire.

But then I didn’t, admire her, not, not look. Snaking down her stomach was a dark shriveled line. It was thick, thicker than a broad-tipped Sharpie. And it wasn’t a scar; it wasn’t red or raised, just raisin-esque. I wondered what condition could have possibly marred her with that ghastliness, the ugly. There were more winding around her abdomen in a haphazard pattern, and I wondered why she didn’t hide in a corner, like me. Involuntarily, I turned to face the corner, maybe hide for her. But her image was still in front of me, in the mirror, confidently, trying on a marled sweater.

No one else seemed to be watching her.

No one else seemed to notice.

Hastily, I tried on the skirt I brought into the open dressing room, careful not to expose my large thighs, and complementing backside. After a few minutes and sweaters, she went on her beautiful way.

I’ve since learned of her condition, and know that there is no suffering from it, but only love, that child can give.

I’m still suffering from mine though, not visible, not scarring, but more debilitating. And there’s no one’s love that will heal it, only my own.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Writing

 

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My Version of Zaidy

I sat by the shiva and listened to the stories. We laughed at a lot of them, because my grandfather was a witty man, were in awe by many, because my grandfather is still an inspiration. I texted myself notes of the stories, so I could write them up later.

When later came, I had a lot of material, but nothing to write. These were other people’s memories and impressions of my Zaidy, they were representative of how they knew him.  I wanted to tell my story, my version of Zaidy, but my memory failed me. I could only think of one time where I could relate what he said, all the other memories, were just that, memories, fleeting glances and glimpse, small actions, and expression, no speech, or reaction; it was really all emotion. They all said one thing though, my Zaidy loved me.

Yes, my Zaidy was a baal chessed, yes, he was straight and righteous, yes, he was funny. He was all those things everyone who was maspid him said he was, and more really. For me, what I’ll always have is my Zaidy’s love, and the way he made me feel.

I didn’t see him that often honestly, nor did I call. I wasn’t the best and devoted grandchild. But from when I was small and fragile, and up until two days ago, when I’m now grown (and still a bit fragile), my Zaidy greeted me with, “Esther, my Esther.” Every wedding, bar mitzvah, sheva brachos, Channukah party, seldom visit that I saw him, he’d look into my eyes, clasp my cold hands tight in his perpetual warmth and say those words. I’d lean in and give him a kiss on his beard-scratchy cheek, pull back, and he’d look into my eyes again, smile small, and give my hands, still in his, a squeeze.

I was the only person in the world that mattered in those moments.

Yes, he told me stories, great mashalim for life. I remember his little notepad filled with all the funny anecdotes his kids did growing up, and him reading their mischief with pride. Yes, I spent a lot of time in the store and saw how he greeted the meshulachim, and how he made the kids say their “please and thank-you’s” to get paper. All these things, they made an impression, they shaped me, my perspectives, my priorities, they are so much a part of me, that I often forget where it started and often even attribute them to my father, who emulates my Zaidy in many ways.

But besides for the lessons and inspiration my Zaidy was for other people, and for me too, when I think of him, my first reaction, and thoughts, are love. I just feel loved. I feel loved, important, accepted, which as young confused child, to a navigating adult, I needed. And still need.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Memoir

 

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The Culture of Growing Up

Close up of The Thinker

Close up of The Thinker (Photo credit: marttj)

You could run your fingers through it, old carpet. Shaggy, is the word for it. Mottled gray, soft with age and love. I didn’t know to be embarrassed of it at that age, or of kitchen’s linoleum patched with duct-tape. Or the hole behind the door of the foyer formed by the wondrous combination of metal and child’s play. The unhinged sliding door of the closet, the chipped paint from the doorframe, and sharing a bunk bed and trundle with three other sister didn’t bother me. Neither did ripped window screen in my room. It was happy home, and I was wanting from nothing

I’ve since grown up, and become self-conscious and ashamed. I supposedly know better, am cultured and beyond my humble beginnings. There are many moments though, I wish I wasn’t.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Memoir, Writing

 

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Mein Leben

I will no longer judge those women. Those women by the dairy section piling cartons of Lebens, cheese snacks, and puddings of the sort. I used to (as of yesterday) wonder if they knew what garbage they were feeding their child. And if they didn’t, why not. And if they did, why are they still doing it.

Now I’m not a health nut. I will not send my kid to school with just carrots and rice cakes. However, they will not be bringing two snacks for every recess. I’m not against Lebens and pudding, they taste great, but they’re treats, not every day breakfast.

Today that all changed. As I passed the Dairy Section in my grocery contemplating which yogurt to buy my malnourished child, there was one of those women there. She had two boisterous brats sitting in the cart seat, one lagging alongside her, and man was she going at them. She bought 3 dozen, all neatly lined and stacked.  They looked good, I think I wanted one for myself. After I gave her nasty sidelong glances and she obliviously went on her merry way I looked at the nutrition label –just out of curiosity.

Did you know there are close to 200 calories in one Leben, and it has a 20% daily value of calcium? My kid needs calories, and calcium. I bought one, just one, to see if he’d even eat it.

Unsettled by my purchase, I planned waiting a day or two to give it to him. He found it though while I was unpacking and asked for it with a fervent,

“uuh, uh, uuuuuuuuuuh!!”

I gave it to him.

He inhaled it.

First he downed it with a spoon, (really a straw, but he got impatient that it was so thick and he had to suck for so long before it came, that he gave up and demand a spoon [more fervent “uuh, uh, uuuuuuuuuuuhhs!!), but when the spoon wasn’t adequate, he drank it, used  it like a cup. There was nothing left.

I’m torn, my kid ate, which is wonderful, miraculous really – but I really don’t want Lebens to be commonplace in my house. If I continue down this road, I’ll soon be listening to Uncle Moishy, and Morah Music, despite me having standards.

The slippery slope of parenting, I’ve only started the decent, but I think I get it. I’m only a few weeks away from buying stock in Lebens, please don’t judge me.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Humor, Parenting

 

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Managing Motherhood

My son is clanging through my Shabbos cutlery. Somehow, he pulled the drawer open, and found a gold mine (or is that stainless steel mine) of forks, and spoons to play with (he has this thing for spoons).

The other day(s) he’s gotten into my pantry, opened up boxes of pasta and eaten them –raw. He liked it. My Panko crumbs, bread crumbs and cornflake crumbs were also opened – eaten, contents poured lovingly all over my kitchen floor (still haven’t figured out how he got the plastic tops open).

I’ve since gotten a lock for my pantry, but the moment I open it, for my own usage, his ears perk up, he knows the squeaking of the door, and running he comes, wedging himself between me and the door make a mad grab for anything he can reach while I’m preoccupied getting my own wares. He knows he only has nano-seconds. Last time he got the onion soup mix, or course, he got that open, and I had to vacuum by living room – for the third time that day.

Another day, he was dragging around diapers; when I took them away from him, I found them to be wet and heavy. Following the trail, I found that he had gotten into my diaper stash, took two of them to the bathroom and dunked them into the toilet. You wonder where they even get the idea from.

He likes my napkin rings. They’re gold ropes with oversized crystals at the end. He can play with them for quite a while. How he found them in the first place, I’ll never know.

I used to stress, and flip out about all the things he got himself into. I’d find myself running after him, expo facto and trying clean up, reprimand, get things out of his hands. It wasn’t working. I was stressed; he was kvetchy, and I had a house to clean.

And then I remembered an old sign in my father’s dark room at work. Next to “The day you’re down to your shabbiest socks is the day your boos takes you out to a Japanese restaurant”, was the sign, “Cleaning a house while children are growing is like shoveling while it’s still snowing.” The dark room is long gone, really long gone, but I still remember that sign,(dunno why a sign about parenting intrigued me at age 8 ) and it’s too true. I was fighting a losing battle, not even losing – but pointless.

I’ve since relented. And my home is not as neat as I’d like it to be, during the day at least. Come 30 seconds after he’s gone to sleep, and I’m on my hands and knees collecting that days damages. And I’ve stopped making excuses to people that visit, this is my home, I have a child and we are happy.

 Y’ know, I’ve got to appreciate that this is probably the only time in life where it’s more effective to clean up after a mess than to prevent it.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Parenting

 

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Two Ways About It

GDR "village teacher" (a teacher tea...

Image via Wikipedia

When I was in sixth grade, I learned one of the greatest lessons in life – the hard way.

Our teacher had given us a writing assignment, I forget what it was exactly, but something to the effect of writing a few examples of something we had just learned. I loved writing, even back then, and I finished the assignment very quickly, I raised my hand.

“I’m done,” I called out. My teacher smiled at me,

“Why don’t you try writing a few more examples,” she suggested. I shrugged my shoulders,

“Can’t, my brain had enough for today.” My teacher looked at me eyebrows raised,

“Why don’t you try rephrasing, and saying that a little more nicely.”  She chastised gently. She had a point, I could have said it more appropriately, she was my teacher, not my friend. I drew in a breathe and rephrased,

“I don’t think I can do it.”

Suddenly my teachers warm eyes stormed over. Her mouth started to set, and she looked at me menacingly.

“What did you say?” she asked harshly. Not understanding what brought about her abrupt change I repeated myself, “I don’t think I can.”

“Such chutzpah,” she hissed. “Please leave my class.” I was in shock, and bewildered, I didn’t get what just happened, so I just sat there, unsure.

“Leave.” She repeated harshly. Well, I was a good girl who listened to my teachers, so I left.

I stood in the hallway, right outside the door pacing in small strides. I was hurt, embarrassed, confused and scared. I couldn’t make sense of what had just occurred. I decided to hide away in the bathroom, so as to avoid even more trouble if the principal, who’s office was next door to my classroom, found me.

The bathroom smelled of grey coarse toilet paper, and syrupy pink soap. secluding myself in the corner largest stall, I flipped the toilet seat cover down, sat, and went through the entire interaction in my head, again. And again. Nothing seemed clear, to make sense, it whole thing was as nonsensical as ever.

I heard the bell ring for a ten minute recess, and a changing of the teachers, and in my stall I stayed, thinking it through, just one more time.  The time was running out, and my thoughts were running faster, confusion, indignation, elucidation, the bell in my mind rang in unison with the recess bell. I finally understood, what had been a big misunderstanding.

The rest of the day went by uneventfully, and the next day in that teacher’s class, we both pretended nothing had happened the previous day. But I never forgot, and I always remember, not the story, but the lesson.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Memoir

 

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