While Kids Play

Last Wednesday, Yitzchak and I took the kids to Be’er Sheva, to see the old train. Long story short, we were kind of disappointed. And Shlomo was *very* disappointed.

Before we went home, we stopped by the mall near the central bus station. On the second floor, it has a kiddie “gymboree” – a padded area with foam horses to sit on, a plastic backyard slide, and a plastic seesaw. It’s free.

Well, we got there, and Shlomo wasn’t happy. There were too many older kids there, and he was “scared”. (The older kids weren’t supposed to be there, by the way.)

So Yitzchak took Shlomo into a store to window shop, and I watched Tova play.

There must have been a total of ten to fifteen kids there, and five other mothers.

Only one mother didn’t have her face in a smartphone, and even she was talking for almost ten minutes on her phone, while she watched her kid.

And I ask . . . why?

You’re sitting here. You came here for your kid. (Yitzchak says, they came to get a break from their kids. I hope he’s wrong.)

Why aren’t you paying attention to him (or her)?

Watch the kid. Talk to your kid when he or she comes over. If your kid is little, help him out.

Why did everyone except me have their face in a smartphone?

That’s just sad.

Pessimism or Safe Thinking?

Sometimes I think I’m crazy. Absolutely bonkers. Paranoid and and a helicopter-mom and helicopter-wife.

For instance, Yitzchak would love to be an astronaut. I forbid it. He would like to be a head rabbi, and I forbid that, too. He thinks that maybe he could change something if he went into politics – and I forbid that, too.

This Pesach, I told Yitzchak that we are not going *anywhere*. Maybe we’ll go to Be’er Sheva. But unless we are visiting our “parents” in Jerusalem, we are staying put and not traveling, at all, the entire holiday. And even to visit our “parents” I am iffy, but okay, I *do* feel safer there than anywhere else in Jerusalem. So, fine.

The reason I am so stubborn about not going *anywhere* is simple:

The Muslim Arab dogs like to make every holiday into a heartache. They take great pride, and celebrate with great joy, every time they manage to murder (or maim for life) a Jew on a holiday. They take great joy in stealing a Jewish family’s holiday joy, and ruining their holiday forever. They believe that Allah is proud of them every time they turn a holiday into a period of mourning for a Jewish family.

Baruch Mizrachi was murdered on his way to the seder, while driving just before the holiday with his wife and children – two years ago.

On Rosh Hashana a grandfather was stoned to death.

On Sukkot, Aharon Banita and Nechemia Lavi were murdered; so were my friend Naama Henkin and her husband, Eitam.

On Chanuka, there was a double ramming-stabbing attack in Jerusalem, and another terrorist shot 23 bullets at a civilian car . . . and miraculously, no one was killed.

On Purim . . . I honestly have lost track. But I’m sure there was something. There always is.

And so, we are staying put for Pesach. I would love to use the holiday to go hiking, maybe in the north; I would love to use the holiday to visit friends and family. Maybe we will go to two gatherings. But most likely, we will just stay put.

Because it’s safer.

And I definitely do feel like I’m a paranoid helicopter spouse and mom.

But then, today, two things happened:

  1. The soldier who shot the terrorist who was reported to have a suicide belt was indicted.

    This is bad news. Bad because it kills the nation’s faith in the army. Bad because it kills the Arabs’ fear of our army – after all, it’s not okay to shoot those suspected of having bombs. So, it’s okay to have bombs – you won’t get hurt. And it hurts our standing internationally. Terrorists should be killed; and indicting a soldier for doing what was right – killing someone who acted as if he had a suicide belt, instead of waiting to “see” if it was true and risking tens of civilian lives – is just wrong.

    And, as always, when we give in to terror – we don’t get peace. We get more terror. It’s clear as day, and we knew it was coming.

  2. And . . . it came. This morning the soldier was indicted. And this afternoon, a terrorist put a bag of explosives under a bus, that passed beside another bus and exploded, causing a huge fire (that took 4 firefighting crews to get control of), and injuring 21 people, 2 of them critically. (It’s been reported that one of the critically injured people is the terrorist. He deserves it. I hope the other is his buddy and not a victim.)

So maybe I’m not a paranoid freak after all.

Maybe I’m one of the only sane people in this country.

That would be scary, because I’m not *that* sane.

 

 

Bubbles and Chips

Everyone lives in a bubble. And almost everyone has a chip on their shoulder.

The question is what bubble they live in, and what their chip is made of.

Some people live in a happy bubble. In their world, everything has a bright side – even the worst stuff.

Some people live in a work-bubble. Everything in their world revolves around their workplace.

Some people live in a kid-bubble, where everything in their life revolves around their kids. They stay home with their kids, and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

Some people live in an attacked bubble. Anyone who tries to help them, anyone who breathes the wrong way, is attacking them.

Some people live in a blame bubble, where everything is blamed on someone else. And some people live in an innocent bubble, where nothing anyone ever did was meant to hurt someone else.

But no one, really, lives in a reality bubble.

All those people who live in England, America, France, and who knows where, who think that we are attacking Muslims for no good reason? They live in a terrorist bubble. So do the people who insist on seeing Israel as an apartheid state, instead of opening their eyes to see that Hamas and the PA are hurting their own citizens.

And sometimes I feel like I’m living in an imaginary bubble. This craziness can’t *really* be the reality, can it?

Then there are the chips.

Everyone has their own chips on their shoulders, according to the bubbles in which they live.

And those chips make life more difficult, emotionally and often practically, too. They prevent people from being happy, from achieving their goals, and sometimes – they cause people to ruin, with their own actions, their lives and those of their loved ones.

Bubbles can be good or bad.

Chips can be good, only if they prompt you to productive action, without harming anything else.

Problem is, most people don’t recognize the chips on their shoulders, and even when they do – they deny or ignore it.

What bubble do you live in? Do you know anyone with a serious chip on their shoulder? What flavor is it?

 

 

Do You Have a Weapon?

Two days ago, we were standing in line to go into the central bus station in Be’er Sheva. I hate standing in that line, because there are always, always, people smoking right beside you. But that’s off topic.

At any rate, someone five people ahead of us went through the metal detector, then went back through it, and then went through it again.

He got wanded over and he got a pat-down – pockets, stomach, legs, arms. The security guard didn’t find anything, and in the end, the man got an apology, too.

I hadn’t been paying too much attention, so I just figured he’s beeped on the metal detector, and hey – he fit the profile, so why *not* check him?

As a sort-of apology for holding us up, the security guard then let five people through without even a blink: a man and a woman who looked like American tourists and turned out to be a couple, Yizchak, me, and this skinny Arab guy with slicked back, black hair, who was too busy talking on his phone to even notice his surroundings. He looked to be about 20 years old. And me? I think he should’ve been checked over. Talking on the phone doesn’t mean you’re not a terrorist.

Well, I’m not a security guard, and the guy had already gone through, so I kept my mouth shut. We found out that we’d missed a bus by three minutes, and found a place to sit and wait for the next one.

And then . . .

From the other entrance, we see three policemen escorting a handcuffed Arab guy of about 20 years old. Two policemen on each side, and one behind him, carrying an assault rifle at the ready.

And we realized that that over-done pat down and apology (we’ve never seen such a pat-down before, at least not in Israel – in America and Canada they do it all the time, to innocent, non-threatening people, because security there is stupid) were both given because the security guards were looking for someone.

They were looking for this guy, that they just arrested. And this other guy was mistaken, wrongly and undeservingly, for the guy they arrested. Was he a would-be terrorist? Or a wanted criminal? We’ll never know.

Because this story, like so many others, never made the news.

It Ain’t Your Business, Sorry

This is going to piss some people off. Most of them will be people who know me in “real” life and expect to be informed of certain things. So, I apologize. Don’t read it if you’re going to get pissed off. Or, read it and try to understand that it’s not necessarily against you, personally.

This is one of those rare personal-vent posts. One of those that I really do try not to write, or at least not to publish on my blog. At all.

But I’ve been sitting on this for over a month and it still pisses me off. So, I’m going to write it, once and for all.

About a month ago, someone told me that, “the way I handled my last pregnancy was very, very, very hurtful and unacceptable.”

Wait a second. The way I *handled* MY last *pregnancy* was *unacceptable and hurtful*?

First of all, I “handled” my pregnancy fine, and my doctor will agree. Even my boss would have to agree, even though he wasn’t allowed to cut my hours like he wanted to.

I “handled”, *we* “handled” my pregnancy fine. Both in the day-to-day aspects, the big-brother prep aspects, and the general pregnancy and birth aspects.

But maybe she meant that I didn’t tell her when she wanted to be told, and I let her find out through the grapevine.

Well, that really isn’t related to how I handled my pregnancy, is it? No, it’s not.

It’s related to when and how, and *with who* I decided to share the news of my pregnancy.

NOT to how I handled it.

I actually DID tell someone specifically so that she wouldn’t find out through the grapevine, and I really regret it. It was a waste of time, energy, and worry . . . that she simply wasn’t worth. Next time, I’m not doing that. She can find out, or not find out, through the grapevine.

But back to the topic.

It boils down to these two points:

  1. Who I inform, and when, is NOT related to how I handled my pregnancies.
  2. My pregnancies are MY business. NOT yours. And I don’t care WHO you are, unless your name is Yitzchak and you’re my husband, OR, you’re one of my children.

If you’re not my husband, and you’re not my child (and you’re not my boss, doctor, or whatever other high-up who needs to be informed) – then it’s NOT your business. We, Yitzchak and I, choose who to share news of our pregnancies with, when to share that news, and *how* to share it.

If you didn’t make the cut, there’s a reason.

Some people didn’t make the cut because we didn’t feel it was fair to ask them to keep their mouths shut. Because we didn’t feel like it was fair to ask them to keep a secret from someone close to them. Even though we really, really wanted them to know. (If you’re under age 20, reading this blog, and know me in real life, this is the category you fall into. Promise to G-d.)

Others didn’t make the cut because I can’t *trust* them to keep their mouth shut.

Then there are those who I didn’t see a point in telling (the guy at the supermarket, for instance).

And last, but certainly not least, there are people who, for several personal, logical, completely legitimate reasons – we were not comfortable sharing the news with, and did not wish for them to find out until there was absolutely no way around it.

Yes, I know, some people take a picture of their positive test and send it to everyone connected to them on WhatsApp. Some people post ultrasound pictures on Facebook. I think these people are tactless, tasteless, dumb, and don’t understand that there exists such a thing as TMI.

But hey, each person can share their pregnancy news when they want, how they want, and with anyone they want, right?

Precisely.

So just like you turn a blind eye to those people posting 5 week ultrasound pics on Facebook, or posting pictures of pregnancy tests with “period due in two days and positive pregnancy test!!!!!” on WhatsApp – you can accept, and understand, that some people do the opposite, and that our choice is legitimate, too.

Because it is a legitimate choice. Even if you happen to not like it.

Sorry about that.

So no, sweetie who complained about how she found out I was pregnant with Tova. No, I will not share my news with you next time I am 6 weeks pregnant, and probably not when I come back from the first, or second, anatomy scan. I will tell you when I am ready to tell you. And if I decide I am not willing to tell you at all, I will let you find out through the grapevine.

Oh, and she who leaked my kid’s personal info on the internet? Well, I’m not interested in you finding out my next child’s exact birthdate or full name, unless I have, in writing, that you will not do such a thing again.

Sorry, not sorry.

Divorce and Preferential Treatment

Okay, let’s get two facts straight:

  1. Moms are given preferential treatment by courts and society.
  2. Moms don’t always deserve that special treatment, and often abuse it.

That’s it, folks.

Not every dad is abusive. Not every mom is a great mom.

Many moms misuse their privileges in order to hurt the dad, control the children, or vindicate themselves.

It’s much more common to see single moms with kids than single dads with kids. And not because the dads aren’t good enough. But because the moms didn’t play fair.

Let’s give dads a fair chance, and not give moms preferential treatment just because they happen to have two X chromosomes.

Sometimes the kids really are better off with Dad than with Mom. Like, in at least 50% of the cases.

And sometimes both parents are equally abusive . . . so why give Mom preferential treatment?

Have you ever heard of Mom paying child support, or do only dads have to pay child support?

It’s time to stop being feminist and start being fair.

And asking a divorcing mom who wants to take her kids to a different country if she is *allowed* to do so is a very, very, legit question.

Parents can and do kidnap their own children.

That’s why, in order to get U.S. passports for our kids, Yitzchak and I either have to BOTH be at the consulate, or one of us has to sign in front of a notary. Heck, we’d have to do it here, too, except that in our little hole, everyone is family and rules often slide.

Yes, *even though* we are married. Because, well, who knows? Maybe we separated and didn’t inform the government, and one of us is trying to take the kids from the other. Like we would . . . but the government can’t know that if we ever *did* decide to divorce, we’d figure it out between ourselves and do what’s best for the kids, no ego-boosting ugly court scenes necessary. (Perhaps that’s why we’re not planning to divorce anytime soon – because we have the maturity to work things out? Gee, what’s maturity, anyways?)

Don’t ask for help getting a single mom settled in a new country, if you can’t stomach people asking if she is allowed to take her kids out of her home country.

It’s a legit question.

Because no one wants to aid a kidnapping.

Because we all know that single parents equate custody with not being the guilty party in the divorce. Because kids are a prize, right?

Stupid idiots.

Can we PLEASE stop giving moms preferential treatment? Please??

Biting is a “Phase”

Althought I wrote this post on September 21, 2015, it is one of those “evergreen” posts that is always relevant.

Every so often, I question the fact that, in my belief, daycare is something to be avoided at all costs. (Daycare – from birth until the kid is around 3 years old; minimum – 2.5. Preschool is from that age until kindergarten.)

And then someone complains that her kid – a baby, really, is being bitten. Or hit. Or comes back crying. Or doesn’t want to go back to daycare, because they’re scared.

The kid comes back with black and blue marks. Or with teeth marks. Or scratch marks. Sometimes, it breaks the skin.

But it doesn’t matter, because, “it’s just a phase.”

I always like how the parents defensively call aggressive behavior “a phase” until the aggressive child gets a younger sibling, and bites, hits, kicks, or otherwise hurts the new baby. And suddenly – it’s not a phase anymore. And the parents takes care of the aggressive behavior – fast.

So what does that mean? It’s a phase only if it hurts your kid, but if my kid is hurting my baby, it’s not phase? Your kid isn’t as important as my kid? (Well, we knew that. But you’re not supposed to feel that way – or, at least, you’re not supposed to say it.)

And then I say: Thank G-d I don’t send to daycare.

Biting is a phase. Part of the oral phase.

Then there’s the hitting and kicking. I guess they’re part of the sensory phase.

Then the stealing and the cursing. Part of the social phase? I don’t know.

But the fact of the matter is, if you don’t teach your kid not to be aggressive – then your kid will be aggressive.

And the other fact is that daycare can’t give every kid the amount of attention he or she needs. And children who aren’t getting the attention they need, find ways to get it. Often, those “other ways” are violent and aggressive. And they keep at it – because it works. When it doesn’t work – they’ve at least managed to release their stress and anger . . . onto someone else.

So now parents need to choose. Do we want “better” academics (an advantage that disappears around third grade) and better social mingling skills for our children? Or do we want them to be gentler, less aggressive, less emotionally needy people?

Valentine’s Day is Stupid

I wrote this post on Februart 15, 2016.

It really is.

Hearts, cookies, wine, cards to the entire class . . . and for what purpose?

If you love someone, you put effort into your relationship every day.

If you don’t love someone, Valentine’s day won’t help that.

If you are in a relationship, you should be putting in more effort than cookies and wine on February 14th.

If you’re not in a relationship, a day to make you feel single is just dumb.

 

Same goes for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and every other Hallmark holiday that was created for poochy-moochy.

In Israel, we have the 15th of Av, a historical holiday commemorating the massive matchmaking dances of ancient Israel (we’ve been here thousands of years, remember?). And today, it has become a kind of Israeli valentine’s day, except less drippingly-sweet (no hearts handed out to the entire class, no candies) and with a few traces more meaning.

The issue is that in recent years, Israel has started to adopt February 14 as Valentine’s day, too. So now we have 15 of Av, a historical holiday which is celebrated as a day of relationships and love. AND we have February 14, because, well, it’s another day to sell stuff.

It’s not just stupid. It’s consumer-ism at its best (or rather, worst).

We don’t need Valentine’s day. And really, neither does anyone else.

Who Shook the Baby?

Recently, there were two daycare workers who shook babies. I think both babies were about four months old – meaning, they had been in daycare for only a few weeks.

Once in January.

And once in March.

Once in Jerusalem. And once in the center, near Tel Aviv.

The daycare workers, obviously, need to go to jail. But there are a few other issues at play.

  1. Why the !@#$ was a four month old baby  not with its mother?!?! I’ll tell you why: because Mommy had to go back to work. Maybe she chose to – and that’s a different problem . . . and a big one.
  2. Why was such a person even working with babies? One of them had a criminal record. You know why? Because there is high demand and it’s considered an ‘easy’ job.
  3. Why the !@#$ was there one worker to six babies, two workers to ten or twelve babies? The reason is because the legal ratio is 1:6. That’s NUTS! There’s a reason why human beings usually deliver one baby, maximum two, at a time. It’s because that’s all G-d thinks we can handle. There’s a reason why, if you nurse, your babies will probably be no less than two years apart: it’s because that’s what G-d thinks is smart. For G-d’s sake, babies should *never* have to compete with five other babies in order to be fed, changed, or held. Oh. My. G-d.
  4. Why are we not pickier about daycare workers, and why are they treated like trash? Daycare workers are treated, and paid, worse than teachers. They make minimum salary. They hardly ever get a raise. They are considered sweet but not too intelligent. For G-d’s sake, you are leaving your baby with this person. Raise the bar! Lower the ratio! Oh, wait . . . you might have to pay more? No, G-d forbid. Your money is much more important than your baby.

The sad reality is that parents here care more about cutting out kids’ (and teachers’) vacations than they do about who watches their babies. The government has added two vacation days per worker, added an extra month of school for first and second-graders, and is working on other reforms. Why? Because parents kvetched.

But parents don’t kvetch about lower baby:caregiver ratios, or raising the bar for hiring daycare workers. They just kvetch about not getting the discounts.

Forget the fact that vacation is good for kids and teachers alike. Forget the fact that being in camp during the summer is better than being in school year-round. That it’s better for kids to run and jump outside with a babysitter than to be sitting in a classroom or even playing in the schoolyard.

No, none of that matters. All that matters is that parents pay more for camp than they do for school, and pay more for babysitters or vacation days than they would if teachers worked the same days as everyone else. Get mad at the teachers, and keep the kids in school. All that matters is money, and parents’ convenience.

And the truth is that as long as cutting out vacation is more important than making sure that every daycare worker is quality – this problem will continue.

Parents don’t want to raise their own kids.

They want to pay someone, cheaply, to raise their kids for them.

Which is not fine. But okay.

Just don’t blame anyone when your baby gets shaken by an underpaid, overworked daycare worker  . . . who does your job and the job of five other sets of parents, for minimum salary, 40+ hours a week.

The daycare worker isn’t justified.  But neither are the parents.

There is no reason why, in country in which you are paid 3.5 months of maternity leave have another 2.5 months of unpaid leave (and can take up to a year while your job waits for you) – almost every four month old is in daycare.

There is no reason at all.

If American mothers can take 8 weeks of unpaid leave, I am pretty sure that Israeli mothers can do the same.

There’s no excuse for a 4 month old being in daycare. Okay, maybe there is. But not for 99% of the population.

Sorry.

(For Shlomo, we took a private babysitter. A friend of mine, actually. For Tova, we worked our own schedules wacky because we didn’t really feel we had a good choice of babysitters. Yes, we made sacrifices. So? That’s part of what being a parent is. And please . . . don’t have kids if you can’t stand being around them for more than 26 hours a week.)

Fields of Poppies

I wrote this post on February 18, 2016.

I keep hearing about “Darom Adom,” or “A Red South.” It’s basically a weekend festival, for a few weekends in a row.

I don’t have time or energy to go to any festivals shmestivals, but some green fields or forests sounded nice.

I found Darom Adom’s site, and started checking which fields were closest to us.

And then Yitzchak says, “I don’t feel comfortable walking around in fields of poppies, especially given the security situation.”

“What? Seriously? Because they’re poppies?”

He doesn’t get it. So I say, “Among the fields the poppies blow between the crosses row on row . . .”

I’m off. I know I am. But that first stanza is printed on every Canadian $5(?) bill, and I read the bills, so I learned that little piece by heart.

He says, “You learned that somewhere?”

I say, “No, it’s on Canadian bills, I memorized it.” Then I look it up. Yep, I was off by quite a few words in that first line. The rest of the first stanza I knew pretty well, though.

And now I don’t want to go to poppy fields either. Thanks, Yitzchak.

You know, it’s been nine years since I’ve thought of anything related to poppies. Maybe we can make it like red, white, and green (and black and orange, and pumpkins with faces) and just let North American shtik lie in its grave?