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This is a post for the haters

Including and especially NYM/ Naomi.

Today I received an email from my mother. And this email is the perfect example of an email which is absolutely not okay to send to anyone other than a single-by-choice mother (“by choice” including the 66% of divorces initiated by women):

Hope Purim was fun for kids and mommy!
Missed you –
Mom

Usually I try to ignore this type of email from my mother, because arguing with her is a waste of time, as is responding and spending any kind of emotional energy on her issues.

But today it was just too much. I promptly sent back that I find the fact she ignores my husband’s existence to be extremely offensive.

Not okay *MOM*. Just *not* okay.

And do not come kvetching that I am not proactively working on a relationship with you (and do not refer to you as Ma, Mom, or some such title), if this is the kind of email you send me.

But for those who think I should be doing more – think about this: My mother has not actually acknowledged my husband as my chosen husband, and a good husband, since our marriage nearly 7 years ago (it will be seven years next week).

If he was abusive, maybe (maybe – only maybe) there would be a justification for how she treats him.

He’s not abusive. There’s NO justification for it.

And not only that, my husband goes out of the way to be nice, respectful, and thoughtful towards my mother. He tells her a lot more than I would *ever* tell her (I don’t tell my mother anything I’m not prepared for the world to know and gossip about), and tries to keep her involved. He encourages me to send her pictures and speak to her. And he always has.

But this – this kind of garbage – is what Yitzchak gets in return.

And I’m fed up. Yes, I want the world to know.

And I want my family to stop judging me and expecting me to go above and beyond for someone who cares not a thing about my husband, and refuses to acknowledge his existence or our relationship.

Peekaboo, Baby

This post is way overdue. When Shlomo was a baby, my mother bought him a book, called “Peekaboo, Baby!”

peekaboo

I’m sure you can guess what it is all about. Here’s the story:

Who’s hiding behind the rabbit? Peekaboo! [mulatto girl baby, all huddled up]

Who’s hiding under the hat? Peekaboo! [white boy baby with blond hair, missing two shoes and a sock]

Who’s hiding behind the blocks? Peekaboo! [brown boy baby]

Who’s hiding behind the book? Peekaboo! [yellow boy baby,sitting kind of scrunched up]

Who’s hiding behind the bib? Peekaboo! [white boy baby]

Who’s hiding behind the towel? Peekaboo! [white boy baby]

Who’s hiding under the blanket? Peekaboo! [white boy baby, with blond hair and a tan]

Now, let me tell you why this story bugs me so much.

  1. There are 7 children in the book. Only one is a girl.
  2. There are 7 children in the book; one is Asian, one mulatto, and one black – the rest are white.
  3. The girl and the Asian are scrunched up, in what looks like an effort to make them take up as little space as possible. (New insight, thanks Yitzchak.)
  4. The book is incredibly stupid. It doesn’t even say, “Good night!” on the last page – it just says, “Peekaboo!” Give me a break, Sebastien Braun. My kids are smarter than this.
  5. Only the white boy babies sleep, eat, or bathe.
  6. It’s a misogynist, racist, book – did I mention that? And it’s kind of sickening that this kind of stupidity and racism is being sold to babies.

So here’s how we read the book. We’re not the nicest, or the most creative. But it’s such a boring book that we couldn’t stand to read just the text, and had to find some way to vary the answers to the questions.

Who’s hiding behind the rabbit? A mulatto girl baby. She’s the only girl in this book.

Who’s hiding behind the hat? A WASPy boy baby.

Who’s hiding behind the blocks? A brown boy baby.

Who’s hiding behind the books? A yellow boy baby. Yellow babies aren’t the only ones who read books!

Who’s hiding behind the bib? A dirty WASPy baby.

Who’s hiding behind the towel? A clean WASPy baby.

Who’s hiding behind the blanket? For Shlomo we read: A Shlomo! / For Tova: A sleeping WASPy baby.

I mean, you may as well add some adjectives and insights to this boring book. Make your kids think, and all that kind of useless crap.

Okay, I agree. The “WASPy” part is not nice. But as long as we live in Israel, our kids have no idea what WASP stands for. And we’re not advocating violence. We’re just giving the white babies a description akin to those of the others.

That’s fair, right?

Welcome to Chana and Yitzchak’s strong and true sense of justice, and warped sense of humor. We may not be popular, but I think we’re doing okay.

 

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.

kids_planet_discovery_2

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.

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.

It Ain’t Your Business, Sorry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOT to how I handled it.

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

But back to the topic.

It boils down to these two points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Precisely.

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

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

Sorry about that.

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

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

Sorry, not sorry.

Divorce and Preferential Treatment

Okay, let’s get two facts straight:

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

That’s it, folks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parents can and do kidnap their own children.

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

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

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

It’s a legit question.

Because no one wants to aid a kidnapping.

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

Stupid idiots.

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

Biting is a “Phase”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biting is a phase. Part of the oral phase.

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

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

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

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

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

Who Shook the Baby?

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

Once in January.

And once in March.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parents don’t want to raise their own kids.

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

Which is not fine. But okay.

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

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

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

There is no reason at all.

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

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

Sorry.

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

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.