Of Vegetable Knives and Sleepers

sleeper, footed pajamas, toddler pajamas, baby pajamas, blue sleeperOur meat [vegetable] knife broke right before Shabbat a few weeks ago.  We borrowed from the neighbors, and then returned it.  Then, last week, Yitzchak went to find another knife.  He went to the store I suggested (but not the branch I meant) and bought two knives that he thought I would like.  Well, I didn’t like them.  First of all, they were in bright neon colors.  Second of all, they were too big.  And third, they didn’t fit well in my hands.  So on Sunday, I took them back.

I went to the store, showed the cashier the knives and receipt, and told her that I was returning them because I didn’t like them.  (I felt stupid saying that, but it wasn’t me who bought them, and I didn’t want to make my husband look stupid.)  She took the knives and told me to take something for 20 shekels.  After looking around a bit, I decided to get Shlomo a new pair of pajamas – he has three pairs, they’re all getting small, and they’re not exactly made for winter.  So, I picked up a warmish sleeper in size 18-24 months.  It looked huge, but I figured that it was probably the right size.  And if not, he’d grow into it.  And it cost exactly 20 shekels.  So I took it up to the cashier, showed the receipt, and successfully made the exchange – but the receipt stayed with her.

Then we brought the sleeper home.  I wanted to measure it against Shlomo, but he wouldn’t let me.  And then, in the middle of the night, Shlomo’s diaper (the bigger size) leaked.  And Yitzchak put him in his new pajamas, because there weren’t any others clean.  Guess what?  The new sleeper is too small.  The feet are too small, and the legs are too short – when he stretches his legs, the snaps pop open.  Since it’s been worn, the tags are off, and I no longer have a receipt, we’re stuck with it.  And since we’re a bit tight this month, that’s not too good.

Oh, well.  I guess we’ll save it for a sibling.  At least one item from this age should be passed on stain-free and practically new, right?  In the meantime, he wore them not only for the rest of Sunday night, but last night as well.  Today he’ll have two other sets clean.  Hopefully, he won’t leak on both of them in one night.

Where Could I Find a Job That…?

maternity leave allowances

The amount of paid maternity leave in several countries.

Here’s part of the reason I don’t live in the United States: Maternity leave and health care.  Sometimes, I contemplate moving back to the U.S. – just to be closer to my in-laws and to be in a smaller, more close-knit community.  But then I remember: Maternity leave and health care.  And I chicken out.  Where could I, where could anyone, find a job that:

1) Has flexible hours, so the kids’ school schedules aren’t a problem.

2) Will give full insurance coverage for the employee and his entire family, no matter what “preexisting conditions” there are.

3) Will give mothers paid maternity leave.

4) Will give paid bed rest if medically necessary.

5) Does not count said bed rest or maternity leave off of vacation or sick days.

6) Will allow telecommuting if it becomes necessary or desirable, without compromising the employee’s position.

7) Pays enough that hiring a private babysitter instead of using a daycare center won’t take half a mother’s salary.

Where can I, where can you find a job like this?  It’s sad, but they’re pretty rare today.  But, find me a parent who doesn’t want the best for the child.  And find me a parent who won’t change careers just to get the kind of job mentioned above.  I am not sure such a parent exists.  I hope that Obama, now that he has been re-elected, will change some of these things for the better.

And in Israel?  Basic health insurance is mandatory and subsidized by the government.  Supplemental health insurance is optional.  Once you choose one of the four health funds, they are obligated to cover you for the basics and for supplemental insurance if you choose (i.e., they cannot turn you down).  It’s not perfect, but for the vast majority of the population, it is good enough.  Some specific medications and treatments are paid for out of pocket, but most are at least partially subsidized.  Bed rest, if determined to be medically necessary, is paid for.  So is maternity leave up to 14 weeks.  After that, to each his own.

However – telecommuting here is nonexistent, and flexible hours are a distant dream.  One day, when we stop fighting wars to live, and start paying more attention to living, that will change.  One day.  Oh, well.  We can’t have it perfect, can we?

Kind of Busy

logos, design, websites

One of the logos I designed for Shevas Legal Services.

So, I’m kind of busy at the moment, because my boss has finally sent me something to do. . . and in addition, I’m editing, proofreading, and pretty much completely redoing Sheva’s website.  It’s a big job, and I spent a lot of last night on it, and all of today.  I made a few new pages, about five different logos (four of them with more than one version), and did a lot of proofreading.

I guess it would less of a big job if I wasn’t so new to WordPress, website design, and creating logos.  Luckily, I had a computer course in high school that gave me the basics.  That, however, was years ago.  But doing Sheva’s website gave me an idea that maybe, if I practice this enough, I can actually make money off redoing websites – without paying for a course to teach me.  Maybe.  But for right now, I’m off to work – the work that I’m being paid for, that is.

Why I Don’t Want Daycare for My Son*

baby hurts another baby

One baby hurts another. Where’s the adult?

Yesterday I posted how we have avoided daycare until now.  Today’s post is about why we made that choice.  So, why are we anti-daycare?

1) There is no way that two or three adults can adequately attend to the needs of fourteen children.  The government minimum here is a 1:6 ratio.  Many, if not most, abide by that.  But it’s just not small enough.  Plus, if there was an emergency, G-d forbid, how do I know that my child will be okay?  You can’t know that – and I know that I would never forgive myself if something happened to my helpless baby (or anyone under four, when they can run and speak and learn emergency instructions) because I chose to put him or her in daycare.

2) The horror stories of daycare centers, anyone?

3) Shlomo is one of the only toddlers I know who doesn’t hit back, doesn’t bite, and doesn’t hurt other kids.  When someone hits him, he gives them a look of disapproval.  The other toddlers I have seen who act similarly also never went to daycare.  Point proven.

4) I do not believe that a child under three actually needs a social life.  Learning to share, yes.  Same-age friends, no.  Parents contribute a lot more to their children’s social abilities than any ‘toddler friends’ their child might have.  Children this age don’t make friends, anyways – and the little parallel play they need can be obtained by a play date or two per week.  And before you tell me that I’m depriving my child: Shlomo is very social, very caring and picks up on social cues that no daycare child his age would pick up on.  The only other toddler with those skills has a stay-at-home mom.  And believe me, I’ve seen a LOT of toddlers.

5) Toddlers‘ brains need more affection to develop properly than a daycare center can give.

And yes, I believe that one person who comes every day, provides consistent care, is a stable part of the child’s life, and doesn’t have any other responsibilities besides providing attention to your child, is on a totally different level than a daycare center.  While it’s not the ideal, it’s worlds apart from daycare.  And that, at least to this mother, makes all the difference.

*Unless noted otherwise, everything I have stated applies until age five or six.

Our Daycare-Free Story

mother working at home

By profession, I am a teacher.  However, after teaching last year as a full-year substitute, I was worn out.  To be fair, it wasn’t just the school; I was also teaching in an afternoon program.  Shlomo was six months old at the beginning of the year.  We got him a babysitter, because I just couldn’t bring myself to put a six-month-old in daycare.  At least, not after hearing the unending screams from the daycare near my home.  I’ll admit: part of it was paranoia.  But when we tried it for a couple days, it took two weeks until his schedule went back to normal.  Plus, Shlomo got sick immediately afterwards.  Not very encouraging.

Being that Yitzchak is anti-daycare, and I am not pro-daycare, we decided, as I stated, to get him a babysitter.  It went great.  The problem?  Hiring a babysitter took almost half my salary.  And you know what?  I don’t have the energy to put time, effort and resources into a half-time teaching position, including argumentative parents, when I’m only earning about 1,400 shekels a month.  For the uninitiated: That covers miscellaneous, transportation (by bus), and phone bills.  That’s it.  Maybe a bit of the grocery bill, too.  If I’d been keeping the entire 2,500 shekels, it would have covered a regular 1.5 – 2 room apartment’s rent in this city, and that’s it (we live on a college campus, remember, and can’t change cities because of my husband’s studies).

So this year, when I didn’t find a teaching job in early summer vacation, and still hadn’t found one at the end of it, I decided that it was meant to be – and took a job working from home.  An hourly job, to be sure.  One that isn’t always stable or dependable.  But it has a higher per-hour salary than what I was getting, and I can do it from home, which saves me childcare expenses and lots of travel time.

Unfortunately, the person I am working with has been doing some edits for the past two weeks, during which time I have not been working.  And since we do need me to be earning a salary, I have been looking into some additional options:

1. Take a position for 3/4-time at a school.  Not a nearby school, but not outrageously far, either.  So, I sent them a CV.  At Shlomo’s age, I would have to put him in a daycare setting, because we just can’t see me working so much for a teeny salary, when he’s over a year.  Okay, he’s a year and a half.  And I would hope that we’d find a small group.  But honestly?  I hope they don’t want me.

2. To put up signs as willing to do babysitting, and take ONE baby in addition to Shlomo.  Advantages include: Shlomo learning to share Mommy, Shlomo learning to share toys, me learning to balance two babies, Shlomo staying home with me, and it all happening in our cozy little home, with a baby I can give back at the end of the day.  (No, we’re not expecting #2 yet.  I just think it’s good practice for Shlomo.)

Since we live on a college campus, there are always students who had a baby and had to continue the semester.  Barring unusually lucky breaks, such as having a baby just before a holiday or vacation, the baby is usually about a month old when Mom has to go back.  Okay, fine.  Assuming that I asked 18 shekels an hour, which is on the low side, and that Mom is studying at least five hours a day, four days a week (also on the low side), that means 360 shekels a week.  It comes out to 1,440 shekels per month, and again, that’s assuming everything is on the low side, which it probably won’t be.  If I add that to a couple hours a week of the editing I was doing, it’s an okay salary.  Not what I ever dreamed I’d find myself doing, but it works for right now.

3. To market myself as a writer, tutor, translator, etc.  Since I’m not good at marketing, I don’t hold out too much hope.  But it’s still an option, so I’m putting in some effort.

Next up: Why I don’t want daycare for my son.

Update: Soon after I wrote this post, my boss got back to me, and I have been working on one project or another for him since.  However, I still want to find another job to supplement, because both my boss and myself are aware that this is not permanent.