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Better Than

20140112_155544“Come sit with me Mommy,” he said. I didn’t want to; I wanted to read on the couch. But I felt guilty, as usual, so I sat down at the kitchen table to color with my son.

“Pick a color,” he told me. I chose a deep fading blue.

“Dark Blue!” he exclaimed; blue is his favorite color. I sat next to him; my arm jostled his; I’m a lefty, he a righty.

“Mommy!” he giggled. “Look what you did!” and showed me the errant mark on his paper. We sat side by side, elbow to elbow, he coloring, me writing with a deep fading blue and Benny Friedman playing in the not so distant background.

“The Mommy and Totty are going round the block,” he said as he drew wide circles and winding lines. He proffered his hands in my direction,

“Oiy, Mommy, look, look,” there were blue streaks on his palm and wrist. “Want my blue? He perked up suddenly. I declined and he frowned a moment.

“I’m gonna write on you paper,” he informed me. I raised my hand to block his marker descending dead-center on my page. He only nicked it.

“Ma! He exclaimed. “Ma!” I blocked him again. He retreated.

“Ma, Ma, look at my picture.” He pushed it towards me, covering my paper.

“Beautiful,” I said with dutiful enthusiasm, but there was no light behind my eyes.

Terrible, I know. But I was coloring side by side with him. Better than reading on the couch I told myself, better than reading on the couch.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2014 in Parenting, Writing

 

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Paternal Prediction revisited

Old School Graphic Design Tools

Today’s WordPress Prompt reminded me of this post I wrote 5 years ago – it’s as relevant as ever.

I hope I don’t turn out like my father.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my father.

Tonight we were doing an early spring-cleaning, just one closet. Out came the old coats, the worn out shoes, the broken kitchen appliances, and assorted memories.

There was a large leather portfolio that I dump unceremoniously on the side. It was just waiting to be placed in an organized allotted space. My father passed the wreckage that was the cleaning, and spotted the portfolio.

“My old stuff!” he said excitedly. He picked it up, cleared whatever was on the kitchen table with the sweep of his hand, laid down the portfolio and opened it.

Inside was my father’s old work. His work as a graphic artist, years before computers were standard. Where the artist actually had to be one, and not rely on the manipulations and clip art of present day (not minimizing today’s graphics artist, but it’s a completely different field with a different set of skill requirements).
He pulled out papers where he created an accountant’s sheets. He drew ALL the lines. Perfectly. He pulled out posters he created for concerts where all the elements where pasted on top of each other and then printed together. Brochures, where he drew the products, and the simulation of person trying it. He pulled out a yellowed New York Times, where an ad he created had ran. He pulled out several envelopes and letterheads in which logos he created graced. And then he just took out fun things that he drew with an advertisement theme. It wasn’t just, oh I put together the logo or I worked on it; he CREATED it.

“Ta,” I said. “You were amazing. What happened?” He just laughed and said something like,

“I’m so busy just printing now, I don’t have time to patchke on this stuff, besides, this is not how it runs anymore.”

“But, you’re so good!” I protested. He smiled for the compliment but sighed slightly.

“Maybe when I retire I’ll go back to it.” He said optimistically.

I always prided myself on having some artistic skill, I knew I got it from my father, and I’ve seen plenty of his personal work. But seeing today how he utilized his talents for business was successful and loved it, made me feel a bit inadequate in my dabbling in the arts.

But he’s not using it anymore. He loved it. He was great. But real life gets in the way.

I don’t want that to happen to my talents. I want to use them, for them to be me, not for me to tell my children years from now,

“Y’know I had blog when I was younger….”

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Family, Musings

 

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Those Who Don’t Learn History…

I have so many childhood memories. Most of them involve me getting into trouble, or being embarrassed in some form or another. A story of my second-grade self just came up the other day while teaching. My students asked in wonderment “How do you remember that!?”. The answers simple, when you’re hurt, you don’t forget, because if you do, it might happen again.

I suppose when I think about it, I have the happy clichéd childhood memories, of sitting on our front stoop playing watermelon, and pretending that the etchings in the stones by the front of the house made a perfect hopscotch board, and playing tap tap trio, and eating ices, trading stationary and the like. They’re not individual memories though; they’re collective.

I don’t remember single times that I played elimination in front of the house. It was something we did every day. I don’t remember all savvy stationary trades I made, just that we did it often and I had a great collection. The only individual memories I have on these collective ones, are the bad one – where things went wrong – not super right. Like the time Elisheva Link bombed a ball into my belly and it hurt so much I sat out the rest of the gain and everyone laughed at my for being weak. Or the time Zahava Feller tried to trade my Lisa Frank stationary for her Snoopy reinforcements, and Miri, my sister, interfered and told her off for offering me such a bad trade. I suppose that should be a good memory, I was spared, but I remember feeling ashamed that I was almost conned, and why didn’t I know this myself.

I was recently reminded of a third grade tale – the time I returned a WAY overdue book to the Bais Yaakov libarary, and I was so afraid to tell Mrs. Florence, the librarian, because she was scary, she had a short pointy nose, blue eyes that bulges with veins, and of course the requisite high shrill of librarians. You can’t really blame a third grader for being afraid. So I put the book down on her desk, like it was any other return, and walked briskly away.

Later on in the day, there was a student messenger knocking on my classroom door. She held a note, which my teacher proceeded to read out loud. I don’t remember the exact words, but I remember it, recounting what I had done, and the words “and ran away!”. My teacher read those words with much drama. I wanted to protest, to explain, and maybe deny, but I was just so embarrassed by my actions being revealed publically, not just revealed, but reprimanded, and in a way, almost mocked.

Why did they have to do that, both of them, the librarian and my teacher. What point and purpose was there for the librarian to write a dramatic note to my teacher? Address my mother, or me, or really address it, don’t just point out my wrongdoings. And why did my teacher read it aloud? What gain was there besides for just shaming me into more misbehavior.

When I was in High School, I met the librarian. I was helping out the school Chinese auction, and she was the grandmother of one of the heads. She came to “shep nachas” and put in a few tickets. I couldn’t view her as a grandmother. As a loving person. Someone who could care about someone else. I couldn’t reconcile that incident years ago, with that just being a facets of a person, or job really. It hurt me tremendously.

Most days I laugh at the story. Because it’s funny if you tell it over with the right voices and levity. But there’s a part of me that’ll never forget the eyes wide, and iced grip on the little girl’s heart when she realized that she was the subject in the note her teacher was reading.

People ask me why I teach, why I’ve always wanted to teach. I know I’m supposed to say that I love kids, and I want to share, and help them grow and all that too nice-smiley stuff, but really, most of the time, it’s that history doesn’t repeat itself.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Memoir, Teaching

 

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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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And Many Miles to Go Before I Sleep

My mother tells me it’s time for a new blog post. She’s bored of visiting my blog, disappointed when she sees nothing new. I told her to set up a Google reader account to save her the agmas nefesh. Forget about setting it up being too difficult for her, she didn’t really understand its function when I tried explaining it. But never mind that.

I agree with my mother, it is time for a new blog post. And I have a lot to say – I’m just too busy doing nothing to say it. Nothing is relative of course. I spend most of my day tending to my adorable, but perpetually cranky baby. Or I’m in bed sleeping. Some old adages are right and smart – Sleep when the baby sleeps.
So the adage works with your first kid, but when you have a kid running around it’s not so easy to say,

“Ooh yay, the baby shtunker is finally sleeping – I’ll pop in for a nap – if that’s ok with you E – don’t break my china teacups like you almost did yesterday, k?”

Well, I suppose it’s easy to say, not to do.

So…I’m a little homebound and going out of my mind. I went to the park in my complex a few days this week. The other women looked at me in wonderment – what was I doing outside?!! And I was thinking, Oh G-d I can’t believe it took me this long to get outside. Seriously, I don’t think I was outdoors for a week after I had the baby. And besides cranky babies magically shut up outside – nature’s best.

It’s only three weeks, and it feels like months (well, when your night turn into days, and days nights and there’s a point where you can’t differentiate between the two because you’re too busy pacing your hallways, arms jiggling, trying to calm a baby, time seems to pass Reeeeeeeally slowly.) I don’t even remember what it feels like to be pregnant – yes, I did just write that. I don’t remember, there’s too much overriding it.

I taught Macbeth this year; I didn’t think I could ever relate to him, but I do now: Act II Scene II

Macbeth: Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!”

So bear with me, while I bear with my baby.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Parenting, Slice of Life

 

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Mazal Tov!

It’s a boy!

7lb, 6oz

19 inches

Born 11:52 p.m. June 24th 2012

He is perfect (takes after his Mommy)

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Parenting, Slice of Life

 

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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?

 
4 Comments

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

 

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Yesterday’s, Today’s and Tomorrow’s Excuse

I can’t think, or do anything, because I’m so uncomfortable.

And then comes the baby, and there’s no time to think or do anything.

I have new respect for J.K. Rowling for completing Harry Potter while having and raising children.

I’ll bet her secret is magic.

(or a lot of money for housekeeping and nannies)

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Slice of Life

 

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Begging For Validation

 

I never answer my door – unless I know you’re coming. Someone can bang away all they’d like, if I wasn’t informed of your arrival, I’ll become selectively deaf to your hammering. If you really want me to open the door, just call my house, tell me your standing there waiting for me, and I’ll be ever so gracious.

Seems really rude, I know. But I have my reasons (whether you agree with them or not)
1) The only people knocking on my door who I’m not expecting are collectors
2) I don’t keep any cash in the house
3) I think it’s an easier let down to think no one is home, than to be told they have nothing for you

It’s not a big deal, really. Most collectors will knock once or twice and leave if there’s no response. The problem arises when the collectors are not bona-fide meshulachim, with shtars from the Vaad, but when they come in a more miniature and menacing form – children.

Kids are the worst. They knock – persistently. They don’t wait, pause, give you moment to walk across your kitchen to receive them; it’s just knock – knockknockknock – knockknock –knockknockknockknock. And they don’t leave if you don’t answer the door. They peer into windowshades and start knocking all over again. Also, they’re generally neighborhood children, so they know my car, and whether they saw me leave or enter my home recently. You’d think they’d pick up after 3 years that I don’t answer the door. But they are a dogged bunch.

You know what, even if I did keep cash in my house to pass out when benevolence strikes me, I wouldn’t give to children. And further, I don’t intend to allow my children to collect. It may be standard procedure in Lakewood, I just think it’s bad chinuch.

The position of a meshulach, to have to go door to door to procure necessary funds is degrading. It’s embarrassing, and is only undertaken in the most dire of circumstances. And so it should be. To just ask of another person, another person in which you have no regard for each other, is the epitome of taking – and if the most Godly behavior is giving, then taking in such a manner is its contrast, and thereby ungodly.

My question is, why are school, organizations and parents encouraging children to engage in such behavior. Yes, I suppose in many cases the causes are worthy, but do you want to teach your children to just ask a random stranger for money, to take away the human mortification of the deed, and further embed it into their sociological structure of acceptable behavior? There are other ways to encourage a child to fundraise for a worthy cause without them soliciting door to door.

And then there’s this story.

I was on the phone with my sister while it happened so I can attest to its veracity. Her 6 year old daughter came over to her and requested 11 dollars.

“Why do you need 11 dollars?” my sister asked suspiciously. “Is this for a school trip of project?”

“No,” her daughter replied simply, “It’s for Rochel.”

“Why do you have to give 11 dollars to Rochel?”

“She’s collecting for Organization Blank Blank”

My sister got a litter confused here,

“Why does she need 11 dollars specifically?” my sister asked, voice rising, getting slightly indignant, “I can give her whatever amount I see fit.”

“Well, she want the Gameboy prize, and she needs 11 dollars.” My niece answered plainly.

My sisters eyes popped (I’m assuming they popped, I didn’t see her, but I know her expressions)
“You can give her 25 cents –from your own money!”

And my niece, totally not following what happened, stated simply,

“But she needs 11 dollars.”

My sister then put her hand on her hip and wagged her index finger at her daughter (once again, just speculating here), and said sternly,

“I’m not giving tzedakah, so Rochel can get a prize. If she wants a Gameboy, let her parents buy for her, I’m not sponsoring it, especially not with my tzedakah money.”

I’m not sure if my niece understood the message, but she definitely grasped her mother’s tone of voice and dutifully walked away.

“Did you hear that?” My sister asked me, returning to our conversation. “The chutzpah!”

And I agree.

 

So, would you let your child go door to door collecting?

 
10 Comments

Posted by on May 7, 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”.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Parenting, Uncategorized

 

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