Poopy-Training and Tzuk Eitan

Remember how, during Tzuk Eitan (Operation Protective Edge), we were potty-training Shlomo and a siren went off while he was on the potty?

Well, 6 months later, we are about back to where we were then.  How we did it, I don’t know.  I think by just making a direct reward, a direct consequence, and letting it be.  In other words, the direct reward and direct consequence are the only things that we associate with pooping.  It was just getting to be too much, and we felt like everything in his life, and ours, was connected to poopng . . . something we didn’t feel was healthy or beneficial.

Direct reward: He gets his pacifier from the moment he’s off the potty until he leaves for gan the next morning.  There is no connection between the pacifier and the potty, you say?  You’re right.  Except that the pacifier was the only thing he really seemed to care about on a long term basis.

No potty, no cookie?  No problem, I don’t need a cookie anyways.

Potty and half an hour of uninterrupted playtime with one of us, even on a busy day?  Well, that’s nice, but I get it enough anyways, and when I really want it I’ll poop in the potty.

No potty, no pasta (because pasta is constipating and he eats too many carbs)?  Who cares, I like vegetables and as long as I’m not hungry it doesn’t make that much of a difference.

No potty, no tablet? Meh, who cares.

Poop in pants and pick it up with a wipe?  Who cares?

Poop in pants and pick it up with my hands?  Ewwwwww.  But it’s not so bad, it gets a reaction, and the solution is simple: Don’t poop.

No potty, no pacifier?  But I waa-aa-aaa-annn-ttt.

Originally, I suggested trying poop-f0r-pacifier for a single week to see if it would work.  The idea was that at the end of the week, something would have changed.  Either he would give up the pacifier, he would poop in the potty, or possibly both.

In the end, what happened was none of the above; and all of the above.

He is much less dependent on the pacifier, and can sleep well without it.  (If Tova wakes him up, we give him the pacifier whether or not he’s pooped.  Tova waking him up is not something that he can control, plus it means that he won’t become resentful of her waking him or us up.  Win-win.)

And when he wants the pacifier, which is nearly every day, he sits and poops on the potty.

If he poops in his pants, he helps clean it up.  Just like he would clean up after himself if he spilled oatmeal.  We clean up our poops, he can help clean up his.  Because he is a clean freak, this is a very awful punishment – which is why, when it was done by itself, he held in his poop for a whole week and became seriously constipated.

Shlomo isn’t pooping every day yet, but we’re averaging about three times a week, which is pretty good.  Sometimes he holds in his poop so long that he gets poop smear stains on his underwear – poop that tried to come out but got pulled back in.  When that happens, he has two choices: Put a big poop in the toilet, or touch the poop in the underwear.  It’s been about a month since the last poop outside the potty, and we’ve only had a few big smears and a few little ones.  Tfu tfu tfu, may it continue to get better.

Also, at some point more than a month ago, we switched from potty to toilet seat.  We took the stool and the toilet seat and sat him on the big toilet.  At the beginning he was afraid and held Yitzchak’s shoulders, until he realized he wouldn’t fall.  Then he had a choice: No toys and potty, or toys and big toilet.  Guess which one he chose – the big toilet.  He poops with his tablet in hand.  And if that means that he only poops 6 days a week and doesn’t poop on holidays, so be it.  The maximum is three days, and even that is only once a year, and not every year.

The toilet seat has this lid in the front meant for making sure that the pee won’t spray all over the place.  He complains that it hurts his peepee.  Solution?  Stick a wad of toilet paper between the plastic and the peepee.

We are still working on peeing while sitting on the potty.  At present he insists on standing up to pee and then sitting back down to try pooping.  Eventually, I think he will get it.  In the meantime, he has peed on himself a few times when we told him to push down his peepee and pee into the toilet while sitting.

I write the bathroom-appropriate details because I assume that some of my readers are parents who are potty-training boys, and I assume it will be helpful.  If Shlomo reads my blog when he is older and protests my explicit instructions meant for potty-training parents, I will let him reword it.  Otherwise, I will save it for him and his wife when his son decides to pull the same stunts.

I take comfort in the fact that Tova, unlike Shlomo, does not like sitting in dirty diapers.  She will cry until you change her diaper, even if it only has pee in it.  Shlomo did not care if his diaper was wet or dirty, unless it got his clothes wet or dirty.  The biggest obstacle to his potty training was that he simply did not care.  For all that he is a neat freak, having a gross bottom was someone else’s issue and not worth the break from playing.  Hopefully, since Tova seems to dislike being wet or dirty, she will be happy to learn how to keep herself dry and clean by going to the potty.  She is also a girl, and supposedly girls train faster – but this we will see in due time.

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Update from after Shabbat, Feb. 28: Apparently, I need to stop posting poop-training updates.  Shortly after this was published we found poop in his underwear – or rather, slime in his underwear.  It was much more than just a little stain.  Then he pooped in the toilet.  The next day, we found another stain in his underwear.  And the day after that.  Sigh.  Today I told Shlomo that my contract includes washing poopy underwear for maximum eight months, and that it applies to one-, two-, and three-year olds, but not to four-year-olds.  Then I got a brilliant idea: My contract doesn’t include washing a 4-year-old’s poopy underwear, right?  And the extra loads are a waste of water and electricity; if I don’t do the extra loads I suffer from the stink and have to make sure nothing touches it.  Solution: He can hand wash his own poopy underwear.  Fair enough, no?  It takes the task of my hands, and saves electricity and water . . . and teaches him some responsibility.  We’ll see what happens now.

A Tongue-Tie Survival Story

Survival?  Well, I don’t know.  But it does sound catchy, and we did make it through with not a single drop of formula.

When the hospital’s pediatrician checked Tova he told Yitzchak, “Just so that you don’t sue me, she has tongue tie.  It shouldn’t cause a problem for nursing and in 90% of cases it doesn’t.”

When Yitzchak brought Tova back to me (note: in Hadassah Ein Karem they don’t separate you for a minute; in Soroka it took two and a half hours before she was brought back to me, during which time Yitzchak was with her for all except five minutes) he told me what the doctor had said.  Angry as I was at how the birth had gone, the birthing-factory treatment (they have 20 delivery rooms and no competing hospitals) and how I was being treated like an idiot (thanks, Soroka), I rolled my eyes, thought, “Oh, great; a nursing mother’s nightmare,” and asked why they hadn’t clipped it.  Yitzchak told me it shouldn’t be a problem, and I hoped that he was right, while reminding myself that he was the sane one at the moment (and I was the exhausted, hormonal one).

After a few days, we brought Tova to the pediatrician because we were concerned about her jaundice.  The jaundice, thank G-d, turned out to be fine, but the pediatrician asked to weigh her (fine by me, since I hadn’t taken her to the well-baby clinic to check her weight yet) and discovered that her weight was not fine; I think she had gained 50g.  We were to come back in three days.

Three days later she had gained only another 30g.

Three days after that, we came back again.  This time, she was already over a week and a half old and hadn’t yet regained her birth weight – and at the rate she was going, we weren’t sure when she would.

At two weeks, she still hadn’t.  I don’t remember when it was, but there was a week in there that Tova gained only 70g – slightly less than half of what she should have gained.

I remember that during this time my mother called and asked how we were doing.  I said we were fine and thank G-d everything was going pretty good.  And as I said it, I thought of how ironic it was.  Shlomo had bronchiolitis (or bronchitis, not sure which) and was on antibiotics.  Tova wasn’t gaining weight and the pediatrician, Dr. R.,  had sent us for a pee test and told me to pump, see how much I got, and then feed her the bottle to see how much she took, and had given us a referral for the ER just in case she did XYZ (don’t remember what).  I was sore, overwhelmed, and dealing with excruciating pain every time I nursed.  Yitzchak and I were barely sleeping, despite being blessed with a baby who, if left to her own devices, will give us a decent night’s sleep.  And with all this, I told my mother I was fine.

Then we did a nursing test.  I brought Tova in, she was weighed, Dr. R. put me in a private room to nurse, and then 40 minutes into the nursing session Tova was weighed again.  To our credit, she had gained 85g.  Not all would stay, obviously, but it meant that she had eaten quite a bit.  Don’t tell the pediatrician, but a good portion of it was squirted into her mouth, since she wasn’t nursing well.  Not that it mattered, of course: the point was to see how much she was getting, and it didn’t really matter which of us was doing the work, as long as it did the job.  To my dismay, the previous day’s “cheating” backfired: I had sent her to be weighed just after a meal, so that the scale would show more.  It wasn’t enough, obviously, and when she was weighed, hungry, the next day it looked like she had “lost” weight.  I didn’t tell Dr. R. why she had “lost” weight; it was enough that to see that she obviously could get enough and officially rule out milk supply as the issue (it wasn’t the issue and I knew that, but we had to prove it).

Several times along the way we were suggested formula – starting in the hospital.  Because even a single bottle of the stuff can do permanent damage to a baby’s gut, Yitzchak and I have started calling formula “medicine”.  It is lifesaving when medically necessary and potentially damaging in any other case. What parent gives their kid medicine when it’s not medically necessary?  And what parent will expose their kid to something even potentially damaging, if there is another option?  Thankfully, our pediatrician was as reluctant as we were to add formula and gave us other options.

The “other options” weren’t fun, though.  The next step was to see if she would gain weight if enough food was forced down.  So, Dr. R. told us to nurse every two hours, maximum every three at night, and come back in two days.  If she hadn’t gained at least 50g – well, let’s not think about that.

We did it.  And thank G-d, she gained 70g in those two days.  In other words, problem found, and it was a simple, easy-to-fix problem.  Tova wasn’t eating enough, and therefore wasn’t gaining enough.  Thank G-d, a million times over, that that was the problem.

However, since she was such a weak nurser, and didn’t want to be nursing so often, each feeding took about an hour.  Every five minutes, we were waking her up.  At one point, I was pumping in the evening, refrigerating the bottle, and Yitzchak was feeding her one of the late-night feedings so that I could sleep a bit.  (After all, I was only three weeks postpartum.)  Other times, Yitzchak gave the bottle I’d pumped earlier, while I pumped a new one.

You know that there’s something wrong when it’s easier to pump than it is to nurse.

Thankfully, I had a hospital-grade pump from Yad Sarah and could easily get 80-90 ml in about 20 minutes (from one side).  Let’s hope that when I go back to work and have to pump, I still have an easy time pumping the amount that she needs.

For a week, I nursed every two hours during the day and every three at night.  Ten feedings a day.

We asked the pediatrician – maybe it’s the tongue tie?  We were told to go to the ENT; the place where he does it, and he himself, will not clip a tongue before the baby is 8-10 months old.

Then it was every two hours during the day and every four at night – for another week.  Nine feedings a day, she said.

Then we got permission to let her sleep – no more than five hours – at night, but we still had to do every two hours during the day. Eight feedings a day; don’t do any less.

Then I realized that the usual postpartum breastfeeding pains had gone away, but Tova was STILL hurting me every time she had nursed.  I managed to keep her from making my nipples bleed, but the dark lines on the tops hadn’t gone away, and my nipples would often continue to hurt for an hour after each feeding – which in those days, meant that the side I had nursed on hurt pretty much until the next feeding.

It suddenly occurred to me that maybe her gassiness, my sore nipples, her difficulty gaining weight, and the long nursings, all had a common cause: TONGUE TIE.  I went online, asked if I was on the right track, and asked for referrals.  I was given two names: Dr. C., a surgeon in Be’er Sheva, and Dr. K., a surgeon in Ashkelon.  Be’er Sheva is closer, so Be’er Sheva it was.  I asked for a referral and Yitzchak took her in.  Dr. C., and all of Soroka, will only clip the tongue when the baby is at least a year; we should wait and see if it interferes with her speech development.  Yeah, and what about the nursing?

[Then Tova got a cough and we borrowed a nebulizer from Yad Sarah, bought a mask and saline solution, and “masked” her three times a day for five days.  Dr. R. wanted to see her again just to make sure that she was able to breathe okay.  And we got another list of things to watch for and another just-in-case ER referral.  Thank G-d, these referrals were never necessary.]

Then Dr. R. told us to go the Tipat Chalav (well-baby clinic, where nurses check development and give vaccinations) and that she was officially dismissing us.  Thank G-d.

I made an appointment with the surgeon in Ashkelon.  He, I had heard, would clip the tongue in the clinic, on the spot.  He was on vacation for a few weeks, so I took an appointment the first day he was back.

We went back to the pediatrician to get another referral.  Dr. R. doesn’t like surgeons; she prefers ENTs.  So she went to ask the ENT herself, partially to make sure that it was really impossible and partially because maybe if she asked the answer would be different.  It wasn’t, and she gave us the referral.

In addition, for the past month or so, Tova’s poop had been forest green.  Dr. R. said it could be because she had a cough, but sent us for a stool culture.  Thank G-d, it came back negative and the doctor said we didn’t really need to do it after the color changed back, even if it wasn’t perfect.  But we did it anyways.

So, we went to Ashkelon.  And I took Tova on a bus, by myself, to Ashkelon.  We left at 1:30pm and came back at 7:45pm.  She was two and a half months old, and still taking an hour to nurse.  Both buses were late, so I arrived 40 minutes late.  Thankfully, Dr. K. still took us, and even forgave us after I explained what had happened.  He asked some questions, including one that surprised me – if milk spilled out the side of her mouth while she ate (it did).  Then he checked her tongue, expressing surprise at how far the frenulum was tied, “It’s tied practically to the end.”  (Dr. C. had said it was “borderline”.)

Then he took out a sterile kit with scissors, a long q-tip, and asked me to hold her chin.  Using the q-tip to hold the tongue up, he showed me what he was about to cut, took the scissors, reassured me that the crying was okay and I shouldn’t worry, and clipped.  It took about two minutes.  There was a bit of blood, but after another two minutes it had all but stopped bleeding.  Tova, the sensitive baby that she is, cried hysterically for long after the bleeding stopped.  Dr. K. said that she would calm down when I started nursing – and she did.  I took her to a corner of the waiting room and nursed.

She latched easily.  She sucked fast.  It took 40 minutes, but not 40 minutes like the previous 40 minute nursings had.  Previously, when I stopped after 40 minutes, I felt like she hadn’t finished but didn’t have the energy to argue.  This time, I was pretty sure she’d eaten enough.  And – what had been sore still hurt.  But as any nursing mother knows, previous sore spots and new sore spots feel different.  There were no new sore spots.  And she didn’t leak milk.

I went to the wheelchair bathroom (that’s what you do with a stroller; this one happened to have a change table, too) and changed her diaper, which had leaked.  It had been full before the doctor clipped her tongue, but for obvious reasons, I nursed before changing her.  Since Yitzchak had forgotten to pack me wipes, and I had decided not to ask because obviously he hadn’t forgotten, I had to clean Tova in the sink.

We went home; Tova pooped on the first bus; I nursed her on the second bus, stopped just before I had to get off, and finished nursing her fifteen minutes later when we arrived home.

When we got home, a few things happened:

1. YItzchak changed her diaper – and her poop, which had been green when I changed her diaper in Ashkelon, had suddenly turned mustard yellow again.

2. She went back to nursing for an hour.  Luckily, this was temporary.  Now she nurses for twenty or thirty minutes; more than that happens, but not often.  She can eat every two and a half or three hours.  I am starting to trust Tova to tell me when she’s hungry. But I still want to weigh her again, just to make sure I’m not making a mistake by trusting her.  She still spills milk sometimes, but after she finishes nursing, not while she’s still attached.

3. Nursing didn’t hurt anymore.  After two and a half months of torture – it didn’t hurt anymore!  I’m still in shock, a few weeks later.

I have a life again.  When I was nursing an hour out of every two, this is how my day looked:

Nurse.

Pee and drink OR eat OR shower

Nurse

Sort laundry

Nurse

Poop and eat a bit

Nurse

Shower and get dressed

Nurse

Put in a load of laundry

Nurse

Get the point?

In three words: It Was Awful.

But we did it.  Without a single drop of formula to ruin our baby’s gut.  If I hadn’t read up on the subject of formula, nursing difficulties, and tongue tie, I wouldn’t have made it.

If Yitzchak hadn’t been so helpful and supportive, I wouldn’t have made it.

And next time they tell me in the hospital that my baby has tongue tie, or I see that my baby has tongue tie, I will wait a week to see if the weight gain is normal.  And if it’s not, or the baby isn’t latching well, I will make an appointment with Dr. K. in Ashkelon and take the baby to get its tongue clipped at three weeks instead of at two and a half months.

I tell this story for a few reasons:

1. It is therapeutic for me to write it.  Very therapeutic.  This post has taken me about two hours to write, and I feel so, so, so much better now.

2. If this post helps anyone else, I will have done a lot.

3. I believe that it is important. Important to write about nursing difficulties, important to know that they can be overcome, and important to be educated.

I do not tell this story because I want everyone to know that I, Chana of Little Duckies, gave birth to a tongue-tied baby and am a radical anti-formula mother who insisted that her baby will have no medicine that is not medically necessary.

I would rather be able to choose who I tell my story to and who I do not tell my story to; this choice vanishes the moment I write the story on the internet.

But it is important, it can be done, and if any of you are in Maccabi in the south of Israel, use the “contact me” page and I will try to help you out.  After all, it was another mother online who helped me.

Geography Lessons

When Shlomo was a baby we would use a bulb to suck gunk out of his nose.  He hated it, of course.  We would also pick his nose; he hated that, too.

Since pulling snot out of a nose is also called ‘digging for gold’, we started saying that we have to pull gold out of his nose.  Then it became pulling gold out of his nose because we needed to donate it.  To whom would we donate it?  To the hungry children in Africa, so that they could buy food.

When he cried, we would say, “The hungry children in Africa need your donation.”

Then, a few months ago, Shlomo’s car (a Cozy Coupe) broke a rule (or perhaps Shlomo broke a rule while/by using the car), and Yitzchak took the car to China.  A few days later, I asked Shlomo if he wanted car to go back in China, or if he was going to listen.

Yitzchak got mad, “Don’t say things you can’t do.”

I said, “You did the same thing a few days ago.  It’s going to go to the same China you put it into.”

Yesterday, car needed to go to China.  But as Yitzchak pointed out, China is now filled with poopy clothes (one item is a pair of Shlomo’s poopy underwear; the rest is the baby’s (I’ll find her a name to use on the blog soon)).  So, car went in China Room, and is now blocking the door and access to the washer.

China, which was originally on top of our washing machine (we have a front loader, like most Israelis), has now expanded to include the tops of the fridge and bookshelves.

A toy that breaks the rules goes to China.  Shlomo, therefore, does not want things to go to China.  People, however, cannot go to China.  I guess it’s just too expensive a plane ticket . . .

Extremism Sometimes Pays Off

Yes, it does.  Because if you’re extreme about something, you usually know enough to argue your case when necessary.  And you usually are loath enough to agree to any alternative, that you stick to your decision and persevere.

[Sometimes it’s not a good thing to be an extremist.   But sometimes it is.]

Here’s a case in which Yitzchak and I were – are – both extremely glad that I am as extremist as I am.  (And my apologies for not posting for an entire month.  For most of the month, I was slightly out of it.)

I was in the hospital, trying to sleep, with a baby who wouldn’t stop crying every time she was put on her back.  From the leg movements, the reason was quite obvious: gas.  But what can you do when the only place to put the baby is a bassinet, you have no gas medicine, everything is closed, and even if it wasn’t you aren’t allowed to leave the ward?  Answer: Nothing.  You’re stuck holding the baby.

I was so exhausted (and this was nearly entirely the hospital’s fault) that I felt like I was about to drop her.  I’m not a person who cries easily, but I was crying then.  I just needed another pair of hands, and Yitzchak’s (even if he had been allowed to stay overnight, which he wasn’t, strange as it may be) weren’t available; he had to be close to home to pick Shlomo up from the neighbor’s in the morning.  And more than that, he needed to rest, because he had slept even less than me and had to take Shlomo to gan in the morning.

I refrained from calling Yitzchak, even though he had told me to call if I needed support, and just sent text after text, knowing that he would see them only in the morning.  One of the sentences I kept saying over and over [to myself, and to Yitzchak, before he went to sleep,] was, “Dang it/sheesh, I just need another pair of hands that I can trust won’t give her formula.  And I don’t know that I can trust the nurses.”

At about 3am, a nurse came in and we had the following conversation:

Nurse: Hi, is everything okay?

Me: Everything’s okay. (Except that she’s crying and I don’t know what to do, I can’t hold her for fear of dropping her or falling asleep over her; I need to sleep and there’s no one to hold her, and every time I put her down, she cries because she’s gassy.)

Nurse: She’s been crying a lot tonight.

Me: Yeah, she’s gassy. (Wow, thanks for stating the obvious.  Are you offering to hold her so that I can sleep?  Can I even trust you?)

Nurse: Maybe she’s hungry?

Me: No, she just ate.

Nurse: But she’s only nursing.

Me: Yes, but she’s not hungry, she just ate.

Nurse: She’s nursing, so she’s hungry.  Maybe you should give her a supplement?

Me: No, she’s not hungry.  (I knew I couldn’t trust you!  Thanks for telling me that I made the right choice in choosing not to ask for help.*)

Nurse: You sure you don’t want to give her a supplement?

Me: Yes, I’m sure.  She’s gassy, she’s not hungry. (And formula isn’t a solution to anything; it’s just bad.  Plus, she only needs 5cc at the moment, and she got it.)

The nurse left.  And I cried and texted Yitzchak, who, when he read the text at 5:30 in the morning, was furious at the nurse.

Yitzchak took Shlomo to gan, and then came with the carseat and a pair of hands to relieve me.  He was going to bring gas medicine (Simicol) but after speaking with Mom decided not to (because it isn’t really for babies under a week old.)

But seriously, if I wasn’t so dead-set that formula is a medicine to be used only when medically necessary (baby doesn’t have a mother, baby is lactose intolerant, mother doesn’t have milk or for some reason her milk is contaminated), and is permanently damaging in every other case, then I probably would have given in.

And then there was the nurse that told me that babies don’t get gassy before the fourth day – to which the response was a prompt [huge] burp.

Well-meaning, yes.  But definitely not that helpful.

And if I didn’t know better, I KNOW that I would have given in.  I know, because the only thing holding me back was the knowledge of the potential dangers that even a single bottle of formula can pose.

Extreme?  Maybe.

But it worked.

And continued working despite the issues that cropped up afterwards.

Because ignorance is not always bliss, and sometimes what you don’t know can hurt you, or your kid.

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*I believe, as I always have, that rooming-in is the best option, and I still believe it.  I also think – or rather, know – that if the delivery room staff, and protocols, had been different, I would not have been nearly so exhausted.  In other words, despite the difficulty presented here, I do not believe that it is good for the baby to be in a nursery, separated from its mother, just after being born; in fact, I believe the exact opposite.

Soldiers Are Just Kids in Uniform

This is a post I wrote in the middle of Tzuk Eitan (Operation Protective Edge, this past summer) and never published.

The first time I came to Israel, I was twelve; I came for my cousin’s wedding and it doubled as a bat mitzva trip for me.  When I saw soldiers they were cool and practically grown up.  Definitely with a lot of responsibility.

The next time I came, I was post high school, studying in a one-year program that would count as part of my degree when I got back.  I remember looking at the soldiers and thinking that we were the same age but living in completely different worlds.  I wasn’t sure which world was preferable; I did know that I owed them a lot and in many ways they were more mature than I was.  I remember thinking that we were so different, but still so much alike.

I’m not the same age as the soldiers anymore; I have a brother who, if he lived in Israel, would be just starting, or about to start, his stint in the army.  I see soldiers, I see high school boys and girls – and I see kids.  Young and innocent, immature, sweet, kids.  I wonder what they want to do with their lives.  I wonder what they’ve been through already.  I wonder, especially when I see soldier couples, if they were neighbors or met during their service, and if they will marry when they get out of the army.  I wonder who will go to Thailand to find himself and who will start studying for a degree.

I look at my youngest brother in law, a year and a bit older than me, and think about what the army has done for him.  Maybe he’s chronologically older than me, but he’s still just a kid.  And being in the army has matured him – a lot.  He’s not all for fighting, like he was at first.  And there are other changes, but I won’t write them.

I look at the kids finishing high school and know that in three years, when they finish army, they will be different people.

Unfortunately, thanks to Tzuk Eitan (Protective Edge), I’ve seen way too many pictures of soldiers on the internet.  Most of them, if not all, were of soldiers who are no longer with us.  Smiling faces of kids, young and innocent.  Kids who were engaged, kids who were two weeks before their weddings.  Kids whose younger siblings are still in grade school and asking the prime minister why this had to happen and why there was a ceasefire.

Kids who had plans for the future, who had their whole future before them.

Of course, some of those killed weren’t kids.  Some of them were career soldiers, or reservists; officers with wives and children.  Some of these career soldiers left behind children who will never know their father – because their father was killed a short while before they were born.

I’m not sure what’s worse – a dead kid soldier or a dead soldier who leaves a wife and five orphans.

I do know that when I see the faces of these kids, smiling faces full of life and hope, I can’t help but smile.  And then I remember that they’re not here anymore.  And I have to ask why.  They were kids!  Kids barely out of high school.  You see it in their jawlines, in their attitudes, in their crooked pubertal smiles and disproportionate noses, in their optimism, in their barely-there facial hair.

Kids.

Like any other kids.

High school kids in uniform.  That’s what they are.

Why did they have to die, and why can’t we respect their deaths, and their families, and make their deaths worthwhile?  Those are questions I don’t have the answer to.

I wish I did.

And I hope and pray that by the time Shlomo finishes high school, we won’t need to fight anymore, because we will have quiet.  Peace – probably will never come.  King Solomon didn’t have peace – the countries were afraid of him.  We don’t have peace with Syria – Syria is afraid to start up with us.  With Egypt we don’t have peace, either – they just hate Hamas, and so do we.  When Jacob’s sons fought and killed all of Sh’chem (Nablus?), they didn’t make peace with their neighbors.  No one came to kill them, because everyone was afraid.  That’s not peace.  But it is the only way we’ll have quiet.

I know that this hope, and prayer, may very well be in vain.  Those who fought in 1948 had the same hope and prayer for their children.  It didn’t happen.  Those who fought in 1967 felt the same way, and prayed that their children would never have to wear an army uniform.  That didn’t happen, either.  Every parent in this country, every soldier in this country, every reservist, hopes and prays that the fighting of today, that the soldiers of today, will be enough, and that the next generation, my generation’s children, will not have to wear uniforms and will not have to fight.

This is what we hope.  This is what we pray.

But as Golda Meir said, “We will not have peace until Hamas loves their children more than they hate us.”

Hamas hasn’t gotten there yet.  And as long as they turn their children into suicide terrorists, we will have to fight them, and so will our children.

I hope, I pray, that the world will wake up, that we will wake up, and that no more innocent high school kids will have to die.

I’ve Had It.

I’m through with this.

Or at least, I wish I was.

Stupid government, stupid world, no intifada, it’s all our faultSuicide bus drivers are our fault, too.

I don’t want to leave my city (which is really just a big neighborhood); I don’t want to go anywhere at all.

I’m mad and I’m scared.  And Yitzchak, who has been insisting, for the past who-knows-how-many months, that all the attacks in Jerusalem were in neighborhoods that were close to the “Green Line”, has been proven wrong.  Duh.  I kept telling him that maybe that’s so at the moment but in the blink of an eye it will be all of Jerusalem.

Sadly, I was right.  The blink of an eye came.

Yay, terrific.

It makes me want to leave Israel – because I know our stupid government won’t do anything without international backing, even if it means Israel committing suicide – until I remember that similar things are happening all over Europe and all over America.

And it’s not just happening to Jews, although Jews are always a favorite target.

In other words, there is no safe place to live.  Ever.  Anywhere.

So I might as well just stay where I am and pray for the best.

Maybe I should learn to use a gun and carry it with me all the time.

I am going to school to pick up some books and write a fancy-shmansy schedule of what I plan to teach for the entire year (or rather, what I plan to have the students learn the entire year).  When I get back, I will try to put in links.

In the meantime, I will attempt to calm my nerves.

If I had wanted to go to Jerusalem within the next few weeks, if I had thought that I really really don’t want to have to go to Be’er Sheva – well, I still don’t want to.  But my fear of leaving the area, especially for a city that is not exactly safe anymore, is stronger than my desire to be in Jerusalem.  I guess we will see what happens.

“Shoshanim Ward”

I mentioned that the lights in his room, which he calls “shoshanim” are a story for another post, and here it is.

[At first he called them “shalshulim”, and sometimes “shilshulim” (the Hebrew word for diahrrea).  Ugh.  Then we realized he meant “shoshanim”, which is a type of flower.  Apparently, because the lights look like a flower.  And now he calls them “shoshanim”.]

lights, office lights, ceiling lights

The “shoshanim” in his room.

At any rate, these lights have been a source of fear for Shlomo.  He has the ones in his room, and our room also has them – but obviously, the ones in your parents’ room are much less scary than those in your own.  Plus, it’s an excuse to sleep in a parent’s bed – definitely better than your own bed.

We suffered from this fear for a while.  Leaving the light on in the next room didn’t help too much.  Letting him fall asleep in one of our beds (we have two twins, and I don’t mind discussing why, but it’s a different post – if you want, just ask) is not a good solution.  Sitting with him until he falls asleep – ditto.  Fighting every night – ugh.  “Punishing” the shoshanim – not working and not a nice solution in any case.  The shoshanim didn’t do anything wrong.  And we don’t punish unnecessarily.  Plus, we don’t punish in a way that someone gets a kick out of.

Well, Yitzchak’s mother, aka “Mom” came for a visit (yet another post) and she brought with her a few packages of glow sticks.  I think she brought a total of three, each containing a glow stick, two thingies to connect it to a string, and a string.  Shlomo thought these glow sticks were super cool, which they are.  Yitzchak explained that we have to be careful, because the inner tube is glass and there are nasty chemicals in the sticks.

And then – brilliance.  I’m telling you, Yitzchak is briliant.

He told Shlomo that the sticks punish the shoshaniim automatically, when you tap the stick lightly.  The sticks are a shoshanim ward and make sure that the shoshanim can’t hurt anyone.

Bingo.

Yitzchak hung the glow-stick-turned-shoshanim-ward from the mezuza, and reminded Shlomo that it protects him.  Shlomo walked around a bit with the stick hanging from his neck, because it was cool.  Now, whenever he deems it necessary, he passes by his doorway, taps the stick, and says the shoshanim won’t hurt him.

glow stick, mezuza, hangers, kids room,

The glow stick hanging from the mezuza in Shlomo’s doorway.

The last time I heard about the subject was a few days ago.  The time before – a few days prior to that, when he was explaining to Ducky that he’ll protect him and the shoshanim won’t hurt him [and that Ducky should dry].

A few days ago, one of the bulbs, which we thought was burned out, started working.  Turns out, it hadn’t been screwed in all the way.  Shlomo was very interested in the fact that it started working, and made sure that we all knew that the “second shoshanim” was working (you mean, the third?).  Not a word about his old fear.

Such a simple item; such a brilliant solution.

As Yitzchak says, “An imaginary solution for an imaginary problem works perfectly.”  Yes, but that doesn’t mean that the solution isn’t hilarious.  And that watching it work doesn’t make me laugh.

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I wrote this post a few weeks ago.  Just now, while I was reviewing it (and happened to mention the word), Shlomo informed me that the shoshanim did not have a good Rosh Hashana (New Year), so they can’t hurt him anymore.  I guess G-d didn’t judge them favorably; hopefully He judged us much better.

Potty-Training Attempt #3 – No Turning Back

This post was begun on January 30, 2014.

Success!  Well, sort of.

What happened was this:

Shlomo turned three in March.  Traditionally, when a boy turns three, you cut his hair for the first time (a ceremony called “upsherin/upshernish” by American Jews and called a “chalakah” by Israelis), and give him a kipa (religious head covering) and tzitzit. About a month before his birthday, his ganenet announced that there was NO WAY that he would have his chalakah in a diaper.  How can you put tzitzit on a kid with a poopy diaper?  I agreed with her, and said that I’m all for it, but as we both know, it’s not fully up to us.

She insisted that we go for it and try again.  It just had to work.  She’s been a ganenet for twenty years and never has a kid worn kipa and tzitzit with a diaper.  I agreed, not fully believing that it would work – after all, this is time three, right?  And the first two ended in failure because Shlomo was just too stubborn, and at the end of the day, no one can make you pee or poop in the toilet if you don’t want to.

So we went for it.  Diaper off in the morning, on only at bedtime.  Poop belongs in the potty.  And for some reason, which Yitzchak and I believe to be a desire to get us to leave him alone, it worked.  Sort of.  He held in his pee – usually.  Stayed dry, and peed in the toilet, just enough to satisfy us and get himself nominally out of diapers (which is what led to the title of this post – Shlomo was nominally trained, and therefore there was no turning back).  We think that he just figured that if he didn’t give in, we’d keep trying every so often until he did, so he might as well just give up, or at least pretend to.

After a while it became more frequent, with less accidents.  But still, poops were saved for the bedtime diaper.  We would put him in pajamas and a diaper, get ready to read him a book, and he would poop.  We were just happy that he wasn’t holding it in; a lot of kids do, and the ganenet, when she saw that he wasn’t pooping in gan, asked if he was pooping at home, because she was worried.

At some point, I’m not sure how, we got him to poop on the toilet.  Yitzchak says that it was the tablet that he received as a gift for his birthday, from Bubby (Yitzchak’s mother).  We also bribed him with cookies and make a big fuss over it.  After a while, when he was more comfortable pooping on the potty, we stopped making such a big deal of it, and on condition that one of us sit with him (usually Yitzchak because my nose is more sensitive than his) he agreed to poop prize-free.  When we started seeing him backslide, we at first returned the treats and then realized that he was abusing the privilege: He would put a small poop in the toilet, get the treat, and then make a big poop in diaper.  Haha, you silly parents.  You fell for it, again.  And again.  So we took away all treats until he made a successful poop in the potty with no poops in his underwear.  And that’s been our policy since.

We STILL backslide sometimes.  I’m not quite sure why.  This morning I was feeding him and something started to stink.  I couldn’t figure out what it was, until it hit me and I asked Yitzchak to check his diaper (Shlomo was still in pajamas).  Yep, poopy in the diaper.  But as mad as we were, we were also relieved – Shlomo hadn’t pooped in four days (and prior to that, had made a week’s worth of poops in his underwear).  This evening, Yitzchak brought the tablet, sat with him, and Shlomo pooped in the potty.  We praised him.  And he got his treats back.  Boy, was he proud of himself.  I just wish I knew how to keep the poop in the potty – and what motivates him to decide to go on potty-strike.

Yes, Yitzchak STILL sits with him.  Poops are in a potty.  Pees are standing up, peeing into the big toilet, like any guy on the street.  I think the poops go in the potty for three reasons: 1. He’s scared of sitting on the big toilet. 2. The toilet seat we have isn’t comfortable.  3. It’s easier to poop with your feet on the floor.  Plus, you get the lid of the real toilet as a table to drive cars on.

Shlomo is not potty trained at night yet, and honestly, I don’t expect him to be.  He stays dry when he naps during the day, even during long 4-5 hour naps (which we allow only when we are going to be up late and we need the quiet to prepare for a holiday).  But my siblings didn’t stay dry till age five or six, and even then, I remember walking them to the toilet in the middle of the night.  If I remember correctly, twice – once about an hour after they went to sleep, and once around ten or eleven at night.

And after talking to Yitzchak’s mother, I found that she had had a similar experience with her kids.  So with a combination of genes like that, and the knowledge the a lot of night training is physiological and not necessarily within the child’s control – we still buy diapers for the nighttime.  One Shabbat, we had forgotten.  Since we had been planning to experiment anyways, we let him sleep in underwear.  Suffice it to say, experiment failed.  When we see that the diaper is dry several mornings in a row, we will try again.

And with this, dear readers, I [hopefully] end our saga of potty training until next time – which will hopefully be only with the next kid.

Things Children Should Never [Have to] Say

Yoav, 5.5 years old – his family has evacuated to a cabin in the north to get away from the rockets. The owner of the cabin showed the family to the cabin, and told where pool was, and where the dining room is and when the tour was over, little Yoav said, “but you didn’t tell us where the bomb shelter is.”

Shay, 5.5 years old asked her mother – “Ima, are they shooting in all the countries now?”

Niv, 3.5 years old – “the best weapon is bananas – that way everyone will slip and we’ll win.”

Keshet, 5 years old – went with her family up north to get away from the rockets and her tooth fell out. She asked her mother, “Ima, how can the tooth fairy get in to here, but the rockets can’t?”

Uri, 5 years old – his father has been called into the Reserves and someone called his mother to ask if he needs anything. Uri heard this and responded, “Of course! He needs a kiss and a hug from us.”

Noya, 6 years old – her father came back for a short visit with the family  (for his birthday) after 3 weeks serving in the south. He came in needing a haircut, long beard and a few more gray hairs. Noya said, “Abba, did you have a birthday while you were in the Reserves, it looks like you grew by a year.”

Lotan (4.5 years old) was talking with his friend(5 years old)- both attend nursery school in Rishon L’Zion
     Lotan: we had a siren today in nursery school.
     Friend: we didn’t have one.
     Lotan: so it seems you had a ceasefire.

Read more on Paula’s blog.

And, unfortunately, I have a few of my own.

We bought a step stool about two and a half weeks ago.  Shlomo was thrilled.  It’s thrilling.  And there have been a number of times that he brought it to the light switch, stood up, pretended to turn off a switch on the wall, and said, “I turned off the woo-woos.  No more woo-woos.  Turn the woo-woo on?”  The last time this happened was a few days ago.  We haven’t had a woo-woo in about three weeks.

He comes up to us randomly and tells us what we will do if there’s a woo-woo.  We will go to the miklat (bomb shelter)/ we will go to the safe room (same thing).

We took his plane to time-out on top of the fridge because it was being thrown too high, too many times in a row.  He told us that if there’s a woo-woo we need to take the plane with us before we go downstairs.  The plane will fly down to the miklat.

He picked up his plane and told me it was flying; when I asked where it’s going, he told me that the plane is going to the miklat.

A couple of weeks ago, we left the Home Front Command’s radio station on over Shabbat.  It’s called Gal Shaket – the silent wave – because it is silent, except for siren warnings and other commands from the Home Front.  On Friday night, Be’er Sheva got two sirens in a row.  Because I was in another room, I didn’t hear the first one; I just heard Yitzchak telling Shlomo that it was okay, and when I came out, I hear the tail end and jumped a bit.  Shlomo, on the other hand, freaked out.  There was a woo-woo, in his house, and he had no idea why we didn’t just grab him and run.  He also had this look on his face that said, “Oh My G-d; I thought we were finished with these.”  Poor kid.  Thank G-d, the rest of Shabbat was quiet – at least for everyone in our area.  (We are on the same station as Be’er Sheva.  Other areas of Israel have other radio stations that are used as Gal Shaket, when Gal Shaket is running.)

There are more.  Suffice it to say, going to the safe room is still on his mind.

Things I Don’t Understand

There are things that I never understood, still don’t understand, and perhaps never will understand.

For instance -

Why is it okay for Obama (insert name of current U.S. president) to drop bombs on Iran, Syria, and whoever else he wants – and are not even distant neighbors – but it’s not okay for us to bomb Gaza?

Why is the world silent about all the inhumane things happening in Syria, but an attempt at humane fighting in Gaza – in self-defense, so that we can have some security and live normally – causes an uproar?

Why is it okay for our civilians to be bombed, but not okay for us to bomb a terrorist organization that uses its own civilians as human shields?

Why does the world expect us to make peace with people who don’t respect or value life, even that of their own people?

Why is it not obvious that security breaches would not occur if countries would use racial profiling?  Why is it taboo to say that a Middle-eastern, young, unmarried, Arabic-speaking man is more of a security risk than a 76 year old Jewish grandmother traveling with two grandkids?

Why does it seem like Kuala Lumpur keeps coming up in connection with terrorism?

Why can’t Israel stand up for itself, ever?

Why are children born to people who don’t know how to take care of them and don’t care to take care of them, while I know really good, responsible people who waited five years or more for their first child?

Why do adoption agencies make so much money off both sides of the equation?  Why not just have an agency that takes unwanted, neglected, or abused kids and places them with people who want kids?  (Israel, by the way, works that way: You pay a 2000 shekel fee for psychological testing to make sure you’re going to be a decent parent, 400 shekel for the court fee, and the rest is free.)

Why do people get married thinking that they can change the other person?

Why do people have kids just to leave them in daycare from the age of three months?  And why is it forbidden to ask that question?

Why is the mother’s happiness more important than the baby’s health?  Why is it not obvious to everyone that rooming in and nursing until the baby is at least a year are desirable choices, and being separated from the baby and formula feeding are extremely undesirable choices that can negatively influence the baby’s health later on?

Why is it okay to feed your child liquid plastic in public but not okay to nurse in public?

Why does it matter if you’re not obligated to use a carseat in a taxi?  Does it change the safety problem?  Are taxis inherently safer than private cars?

Why does it matter if you’re allowed to leave a six year old at home in charge of a two year old?  Does it mean that it’s safe to do so?

Why can’t people use logic?

Why are people so influenced by peer pressure?  Who cares what other people do?

Why is it so important to have a degree?  It doesn’t even promise you a good job anymore.

Why is it taboo to write that homosexual men have a much higher rate of colon cancer (and other things) than anyone else?

Why is it taboo to write that intelligence is on the X chromosome?  Why is it not obvious?

Why is it taboo to say what you think?  Why does everyone look at me odd for doing what I believe in?

What’s wrong with saying that not everyone can sit and learn Talmud, or become a rabbi?

What’s wrong with saying that some kids will never finish college?

What’s wrong with saying that not every kid has the capacity to become a doctor, lawyer, or millionaire?

Why do people put so much time, energy, and money into making sure they look nice?

Who says looking nice means being skinny, wearing designer clothes, and painting your face with makeup?

Why does perfume always stink to high heaven?

Who wants to buy clothes or furniture that will go out of style in five years?

Who invented fashion and what’s the point of it?

Why do people consider fashion to be important?

Why bother buying expensive brands of clothing for kids, who will just stain them?

Why drive kids nuts over stains on their clothing?

Why does everyone have so much STUFF?

Why do people fall for ‘this toy makes kids smarter’ nonsense? 

Why does everyone’s kid have to be the smartest, most advanced, in their class?

Why do people buy expensive birthday presents and waste so much time and energy on fancy parties?

Why do people waste so much time and energy on ANY party?

Why does it seem like everything turns into a status issue?

Why don’t parents talk to each other instead of getting a divorce?

Why is it so hard for people to admit that they made a mistake, say sorry, and try to correct it?  We’re only human, after all.

Why does it seem like so many divorcees blame the other and make their kids’ lives miserable?

Why do so many divorcees make the same mistakes the second time around?

Why do people ask obvious questions after the answer was written in an obvious place and explained three times?

Why is it so important to have a large circle of acquaintances?

What’s this thing called ‘entertaining’ and why do people do it?

What’s wrong with a kid having one close friend and not wanting to play with anyone else?  What’s wrong with being shy, or an introvert?

Why do people get married?

What IS marriage, anyways? [Answer: A social institution designed to protect the wife from being left without an income and with a bunch of kids; and designed to protect the kids by committing both parents to their welfare.  Therefore, gay marriage is pretty pointless, because kids don’t come naturally, nor will one be left without an income because they are busy taking care of the house, since both partners are of the same gender.]

Why do people want kids?

Why do people have kids without marrying or intending to marry?

What logic is there in making the word ‘spouse’ taboo and using the word ‘partner’ instead?  Gimme a break.

Why do people divorce only to get back together, or get back in bed together (sorry little sister Shira, just pretend you didn’t read that), even if they’re not back together?  Why not just work on the relationship, or give it up?

Why do teachers not like the questions that I ask?  Why do they think it’s off topic? 

Why do I seem to intimidate people who are supposedly in a superior position to me?  Rabbis, teachers, potential or real bosses; I even scared my first date (by saying I was learning something that I was told not to mention, but what was I supposed to say?).  And – surprise surprise – Yitzchak does the same thing.  But it’s different because he’s a guy.  Guys are allowed to know a lot; girls aren’t.  And while I’m extremely grateful that Yitzchak has it better than me – why is it not okay for girls to know anything?

Why is it that people comment on what a cute little boy I have until he pulls out his doll, and then people start to say what a cute little girl he is?  Does a man become a woman because he’s holding a baby?

Are we really a liberal-minded society?  [Answer: No.  We just pretend that we are and make outcasts of anyone who dares to question if the emperor is really naked.  And he is.]

Why does no one know how to answer my questions?

Why is it forbidden to ask why?

 

*     *     *      *     *

Yitzchak and I used to play the “Why Game”.  He would say something benign such as, “Can you clear the table?” or “Maybe you should work on your assignments,” and I would ask why.  He would give the reason, “Because it’s dirty,” or, “Because you want your degree,” and I would ask why.  And it would go on and on for half an hour, maybe more, until we were both racking our brains, me to come up with a question and him to come up with an answer.  Sometimes his answers got really complicated and scientific; usually when that happened I would sit through two or three answers and then just get tired.

It’s a fun game.  He’s the only one who ever had, or has, patience for my questions.

But we don’t play that game so often anymore, probably because we’re more tired and have less time, energy, and patience for such things.  We should, though.