Kids Planet: An Honest Game

A while ago, MIL bought Shlomo a tablet. We’re not fans of electronic toys, but okay. It’s had its ups and downs.

Recently, Shlomo found a new game: Kids Planet Discovery. It had been there since he beginning, but we hadn’t noticed it before.

This game is basically a geography game. It teaches a bit about other cultures, and has an activity that involves placing countries, states, and provinces in their proper place on the map. This activity has two levels: easy and difficult. In the easy level, you get outlines to guide you. In the difficult level, it’s just one big land mass and you figure it out for yourself.


Naturally, I tried out the Middle East section.

It had Israel with a piece cut out (Judea and Samaria). So I was peeved. But you know who got that extra piece?

Not some made-up country that never existed, called “Palestinian Territories.”


Jordan got that extra piece.

And I’m happy.

Because before 1967, Judea and Samaria were part of Jordan. The Muslims who lived there were Jordanian citizens. And then Israel won the war, and Jordan decided that they didn’t care what happened with Judea and Samaria anymore – let Israel have it, for all they care.

So Israel took it.

It was never, for one second, “Palestine,” or “Palestinian Territories.” Judea and Samaria, as well as parts of Jerusalem, used to belong to Jordan.

When it was “Palestine,” *all* of Israel was “Palestine,” and it was under British or Turkish rule. “Palestine,” as an independent country, never existed.

Jordan decided that it wasn’t worth fighting Israel for. And Israel conquered it from Jordan, and took control.

Muslims who lived in Judea and Samaria during the 1967 war say, “One day we were Jordanian citizens, in the middle of a war. The next day, the war was over, and Israel had won. And then someone took the star out of our flag and told us that we’re not Jordanian citizens anymore, we’re Palestinians. And we were like, huh?? What just happened?”

Okay, so I paraphrased and translated. But that’s how people remember it.

One day they were Jordanians. And the next day someone declared them Palestinians, and took the star out of the Jordanian flag, to create a new one.

Out of the blue. Completely and totally.

Now, the same world that wrote, “Jews, go to Palestine!” a few decades ago, is saying, “Jews, get out of Palestine.”

And they’re making up pretend countries to prove it.

But I’m happy with Kids Planet Discovery.

They didn’t give Judea and Samaria to Israel, it’s true.

But they DID give it to the only other country that can actually lay claim to that land – Jordan.

Because if you don’t like Israel, at least be honest about it. Don’t make up pretend countries.


Placebo Helps Everything

Shlomo has a very, very low-grade fever. As *the* paranoid mom, I am obviously freaking out. But that’s not the point right now, is it? No, it’s not.

At any rate, he is sitting on the toilet and complaining of a headache. Now, this headache could be from four things:

  • he’s pushing too hard
  • he’s cried and screamed enough to give himself a headache
  • he really does have a headache
  • he’s making up an excuse, to get attention or to get out of pooping (please, no “don’t make your kid poop” criticism – this is what it is, and there is good reason for it).

Yitzchak wanted to give him Akamoli (kiddie Tylenol). And I said NO. Big NO.

Why? For the simple reason that Akamoli will completely cover up his symptoms. And I need to see the symptoms in order to judge what he has and how urgently he needs to see a doctor. Until now, he hasn’t really complained enough to justify the Akamoli. I want to see if, after he’s off the toilet, he still has a headache or if it magically goes away.

Because it’s important.

Well, Shlomo didn’t like that I nixed his yummy Akamoli. He wanted medicine. It’s strawberry flavored, guys. And Tova has received a fair bit of it lately (teething, anyone?), so Shlomo wants some, too. I get him. I do.

That doesn’t change the facts.

So Yitzchak made Shlomo a new headache medicine. It’s *the* best medicine for headaches, and works terrifically well for many other things, too.

It’s called Placebo.

It tastes really good. It’s the same 5ml that we would’ve given him anyways. And it helps Shlomo feel better, while letting me observe his symptoms.

Placebo really is the greatest medicine in the world.

The only thing is, Yitzchak doesn’t have red Placebo. He only has it in clear.

Therefore, Shlomo is protesting. Will he take the medicine or not?

As of right now, he’s refusing. But his headache went away, anyways (bingo, Mom!), so it’s not too relevant. We’ll save his special Placebo medicine for later, just in case he needs it.

I wonder how many years it will be before Shlomo learns what “placebo” actually means. It’s a Hebrew-speaking country, so it may take a while.

In the meantime, Yitzchak is playing doula to Shlomo’s poop. Ugh. But it’s working, sooo . . . I guess it’s all good.

Update: As soon as he was off the toilet, Shlomo’s headache disappeared. Hmmm . . .

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.

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?

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.


(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.)

Child Aid Societies

One of the very interesting parts of Yitzchak’s [second] job is meeting judges, social workers, lawyers, and other such interesting people. Obviously, he’s not really allowed to share too many details . . . but hey, that’s part of the deal.

Someone we know recently had a home inspection from her local child protection agency. Child protection services usually rank problems, and parents, on a most urgent to least urgent basis.

The parents who are not considered urgent receive a phone call and are asked to come in to the office in a few weeks.

The parents who are considered  most urgent get a surprise in-house visit. (And you have to be *really* bad to fail that first visit. *REALLY* bad.)

Many parents fall somewhere in between, but closer to one end than the other. (Hint: If you go into their office, you’re doing okay. If they have to do a home inspection, you’ve got problems.)

So this person, “Lady,” is sitting there and bragging to the world that she passed the child protection service’s home inspection.

And Yitzchak and I just looked at each other and thought, “Umm, isn’t she missing something? Do they actually close the file after just one inspection? I don’t *think* so . . .” But, of course, we said nothing to the lady.

Well, when Yitzchak was in court a few weeks ago, he asked our question to the social worker who had come in for the case. And she said, “What?? No, it is never just one home inspection. There are always at least a few and it is really hard to fail the first inspection.”

So, we were right. Lady is probably not finished with her local child protection services. Her journey, most probably, has just begun.

Which, of course, begs the question of why. Who reported Lady, and for what? We probably will never know . . . unless, of course, Yitzchak is called into court to help with the case. Somehow, I highly doubt that will happen with this specific Lady.

Trust. Brains. And Teenagers.

Life’s all about trust.

And trust is all about . . .

I don’t know what. But I know that it’s easy to break. And takes a long time, and a lot of work, to build.

People live their lives the way they believe is right.

Or the way they believe is best for them.

Or whatever.

Some people don’t think. They just feel.

I think. [Therefore, I am?]

I think that everyone needs to scrutinize the values they grew up with. To think again and again, about what is right and what is wrong. And not to just assume that everything people tell them, is true.

Like “The Wave.” Like the Nazi party. Like radical Islam. These stories might not have happened if the laypeople had used their heads.

And it’s not just that.

No one is perfect. No one was raised perfectly.

What do we believe? What do we like about how we were raised, and what just plain sucked?

It’s not a sin to rethink your upbringing. It’s what the teenage years are for.

Yitzchak and I recently had a discussion about high school.

He’s all for sending Shlomo to Crown Heights. I say, no way are we sending a fourteen-year-old so far away.

We haven’t come to a conclusion yet, except that we’ll look into the individual options, and look closely at who Shlomo is, when the time comes to think about high school.

I get why he wants to send Shlomo to Crown Heights. But it’s just too far. And what he’s suggesting isn’t a perfect solution.

At any rate.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that we should be making sure that our relationship with our kids is strong enough, and positive enough, to survive the teenage rebellion stage.

(Yes, Shlomo, our eldest, is in preschool. So what? The relationship between parents and kids takes years to build. If you don’t start early, you miss your chance.)

Yitzchak said, “That’s one of the advantages to sending them away for high school. If they’re not at home when the rebellious phase starts, they get all the independence they want, and start to miss their parents. And then they call up Mom and Dad every other day, to ask advice.” Yitzchak cites this as one of the reasons why out-of-town (shlichus, or Chabad emissary) kids were always more mature than those who lived in-town. I don’t know if he’s right. But it’s interesting to think about.

I don’t know if it’s scientifically correct. But on the other hand, as a teacher, I get what he’s saying.

I need to put some thought into that subject. I never thought of it in that light before. Hmm.

You Get What You Want

About two years ago, I read an article that basically said: “I know that this doesn’t always work immediately, but the vast majority of people I work with (she’s a natural healer) end up with what they truly wanted. Sometimes it takes a while, sometimes you have to figure out what you want – but in the end, each of us gets what she really, truly, wanted.”

When I read this, I started “kicking and screaming” – what?? I didn’t want X, I didn’t want Y, and I certainly didn’t want Z! This person did such-and-such and I wish to G-d she hadn’t.

After a while, I realized that in a sense, what she said is true . . .

I really did want some of those things. And that article led me to some soul searching, and consequently, I became much more in touch with my inner self. Also, part of being able to receive what I really wanted then, was getting rid of the emotional block that was preventing it. I simply recognized the issue, realized that this was what was causing the problem, and promised myself that I would not put myself in that situation again.

And a short time later, I really did get what I wanted.

Since then, the scenario has repeated itself several times.Every so often, and every time I’m frustrated with a given situation, I sit back and do some introspection. What is *really* frustrating me? Not “Yitzchak is never home.” But, “Yitzchak works long hours, and often travels to different cities. I want Yitzchak to find a better job, in *this* city, or maximum, in Be’er Sheva.”

Granted, that hasn’t happened yet. But there is another player – Yitzchak – and he hasn’t quite figured out what kind of job he wants to switch to yet. (Well, he has. But either he’s not completely sure which job he wants, or he thinks that he stands no chance. Which is bunk, because he is probably head and shoulders above every other candidate out there.)

So does it make sense to say that Yitzchak and I wanted to wait an entire year between getting engaged and getting married? No. But then again, it could be that we were nervous and insecure, and not 100% settled on what we *did* want (where we wanted to live, whose degree would be put on hold, etc.).

At any rate . . . the flip side is that you have to be very careful to only want the right things. And that you shouldn’t have even a teeny-tiny bit of a wish to have something that isn’t . . . what you really would want to have happen.

The continuation of this concept is that during our journey through life, we choose (consciously or subconsciously) people to be our friends, life partners, mentors, etc. who will, consciously or subconsciously, help us achieve those goals.

Which makes perfect sense, especially if you look at the daughter of an alcoholic who married an alcoholic, and say, “What under the sun did you do *that* for??” – She did it because deep down, she feels that he can help her achieve her personal goals, or her emotional goals. Perhaps she wants to “fix” her childhood, by divorcing the alcoholic, or sending him to a 12 Steps program.

We don’t know. Maybe she doesn’t know, either. But again – she chose someone who could help her achieve her goals. Just like the rest of us.

So next time life gets tough, think to yourself: What do I *really* want to have happen? What’s preventing my dream from becoming reality?

And if your answer includes someone else – that’s not really the answer.

The real answer is something within *you* . . . a part of you that invited this difficulty, asked for this difficulty, and doesn’t want life to be any different right now.

Do You Love Nursing?

See peeps, here’s the thing:

I don’t love nursing. Never have, really.

Yes, there are times I enjoy nursing, and there are definitely times it’s convenient. I am always grateful that I have milk for my babies, and especially when they’re not feeling well. I am also extremely grateful that I have never had to feed my babies  powdered cows’ milk from a factory.

But . . . that doesn’t mean I love nursing.

I nurse for three simple reasons:

  1. It’s healthy. For mother and baby. Physically, emotionally, psychologically.
  2. It means my babies *don’t* get formula – which has its own set of risks, unrelated to how much a mother breastfeeds.
  3. I believe that parenting may not always be fun, but that does not mean that we don’t have to act responsibly. I believe that choosing not to breastfeed, even though you *can* (physically – meaning, you have milk available) and are healthy enough to do so (no bodily-fluid-transmitted diseases, no medicines that preclude breastfeeding) is choosing to take the easy way out. I believe that supplementing with processed cows’ milk powder is harmful unless it is medically necessary. I believe that choosing either of those options, because it’s easier, more convenient, or whatever other non-health reason, is irresponsible, after all the research that has been done.

So I breastfeed. My minimum is 1 year. Yitzchak thinks 2 is better. Shlomo hated breastfeeding. We stuck it out 14 months, 7 of them only because I gave him no other options. I said, “I don’t care if it makes him mad. When he grows up he will thank me.”

Tova happens to like nursing. She is now older than Shlomo was when he quit nursing. And she shows no sign of wanting to wean.

And me? I’m done. I’m sick of nursing. I am *so* over it. It was fun, kid. But come on, let’s move on with life.

But I won’t stop if she doesn’t want to, because the fact is that the WHO recommends breastfeeding until the age of two. So if she’s happy, we’ll stick it out.

She will have to learn not to stick her hands down my shirt, or pull my shirt up and stick her hands in my belly button. And she will have to learn that no, I will not nurse her if the last time she nursed was an hour (or two, or three, or five) ago. She dropped down to two nursings a day – morning and evening – and I am sticking with it.

And as much as I want to nurse tandem, I’m beginning to think that I should wean her before the next one comes along. Why should the next baby suffer because Mom has been nursed-out by an older sibling? Doesn’t seem fair to me.

In the meantime, however, we will stick it out. And we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.

But no, people. I nurse because breastmilk is healthy and formula is a medicine that is meant to be given only under certain circumstances – no matter how much society and formula companies may brainwash you otherwise.

I nurse because as a parent. sometimes we all have to do things that are difficult, annoying, hurt, or just that we’d rather not do. Because that’s what being a parent is. Choosing your kid over your comfort.

Even if nursing is sometimes *very* uncomfortable. (I should know . . . 2.5 months of tongue tie, 6+ months with a cracked nipple, two months of tender nipples that don’t want to be touched, much less sucked on . . . yeah, I know. So?)