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Enough With the Awful Weather!

I blinked.

I opened my eyes.

Suddenly, it’s September.

The awful weather we had in June turned milder, but still hot, in July.

We’ve had three heat waves, where the weather reached 40 degrees in some places. I feel like our average was 38, throughout the summer. (But I may be wrong.) One of those heat waves lasted a week. A WEEK.

Now there’s a dust storm, and I can’t even open the windows. I hate not being able to open the windows. It cuts out light and air. Even hot air is air. But to have no air, except what’s already in here? Ugh.

It’s a dust storm and a fourth heat wave. It started on Tuesday morning, and hasn’t let up yet. With the windows closed, there is still light, but much less. They’re thick, and translucent, instead of transparent.

How am I supposed to get work done when I can’t see the sun and sky, when there’s no breeze? I don’t have a choice. I have to work, even if I can’t work as well as usual.

Sheesh. I’ve spent the whole summer waiting for nicer weather. And now, the summer’s over – over – the school year has started, and there is no nice weather in sight.

Sunday night is Rosh Hashana. On Monday, we’re eating with friends who live fifteen minutes away from the shul. If this doesn’t let up, we may have to cancel – Tova can’t go out in this, and even though Shlomo has been going to gan, it’s not good for him to breathe this polluted Syrian-Iraqi dust, either.

In gan, they have an air conditioner, and he takes the bus. Yesterday, it looked like the dust was clearing, and the ganenet let the kids play in the yard. I think that was a mistake, and hope they weren’t allowed out, today.

In the meantime, this apartment is getting more and more stuffy and humid. I have a layer of grease over my entire body, and pimples that make me look sixteen. It’s gross. I want to open the windows, and I want an air conditioner. I want sun and I want air, and I want my laundry to dry in five hours instead of 30.

But as of last night, 600 people had been hospitalized for inhaling this polluted dust, and I just can’t take the chance. The health ministry has warned that the elderly, babies, young children, and pregnant women, shouldn’t be exposed to this stuff – and neither should anyone with asthma or pulmonary heart issues. They’ve warned everyone to stay inside and not to strenuous physical activity.

Yitzchak isn’t doing a good job of listening to that instruction, but he’s an adult, and he has things to do – he can’t stay home all day. I feel like we should be splitting the outings between us, but the fact is, it doesn’t make sense for him to come home and then for me to leave and make a separate trip. It’s easier for him to just run the errands that are on the way to wherever he’s going.

This dust is choking. It makes you cough and it makes your eyes burn. I don’t know if we were smart or stupid to send Shlomo to gan. But I do know that Tova has no business breathing in any of this stuff, and even though she’s going stir crazy wanting to get out of the house, we just can’t risk it.

I hope this polluted sandbox weather clears up soon. I’m not sure how much longer I can stay inside with the doors closed. Thankfully, it’s not winter. If we had gas or a heater on, there would be a serious carbon monoxide risk. Sheesh, even in the winter I air out the nearly every day. Sure, it takes more time for it to warm up again. But I can’t stand having no fresh air.

Dust, you’ve got twelve hours to get out of here. If you’re intent on causing harm, go to Iran. They need you a LOT more.

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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.

Potty Training, Round 2: Failed

Remember when we tried the 3-day method?  Then, we gave up after two days, since it was obvious that Shlomo understood what he was supposed to do, but didn’t seem interested in doing it.  We gave up after a discussion with Yitzchak’s mother, who didn’t hold too much hope, since she’d trained two like this herself (one, of course, was Yitzchak).

no potty, potty training, refusal to potty train, potty, toilet, training, pee on the potty, poop on the pottyThe ganenet (preschool teacher) trains the kids in twos, the older ones and more ready ones first.  Shlomo is one of the oldest kids in the gan, and I knew that she was planning to start right after the holidays.  In other words, when she told us last Wednesday that we should bring Shlomo in underwear, I was already expecting it.  She told us to put him on the potty every ten minutes, and not to ask if he had to go, since he’ll just say no, just put him on the potty every ten minutes and make a big deal of it when he goes.  I saw no reason not to go with her method, since ours hadn’t worked, and figured that maybe this time, because it’s both at gan (which he loves, and has a potty-training partner) and at home, maybe it would work.

Thursday morning I brought him in a diaper and she changed him into underwear at the gan, in front of all the kids, while praising him.  He let her put underwear on him, but as I walked out I saw his face.  It said, “Uh-oh.  I don’t think I like this idea.”  Mind you, on Wednesday afternoon, when I came to pick Shlomo up and got the details of the plan from the ganenet, I had said, “You want to go on the potty like a big boy?  And wear underwear?  You’re going to be so big!”  And Shlomo said, “Uh (his version of uh-uh).”  I tried again, “Right there are other kids who also go on the potty?  And you’re going to make pee-pee in the toilet just like Abba?  What a big boy you’ll be!”  And he said, “Uh.”  The ganenet and I just looked at each other and she said, “He’s already big, just bring him in underwear and he’ll learn.”  I told her that he knew, but refused, and she just said we’ll train him and he’ll be fine.

Well, I’m not going to argue with an experienced ganenet who’s been doing this for thirty years, and has grandkids herself, right?  After all, even if I helped potty-train my siblings, I’m still a young parent who’s trying to train her first kid.  And hey, if this works it’ll be worth it, right?

Thursday: One in the potty and one in his pants.  He woke up from the afternoon nap dry, and the ganenet is in shock that he can hold his pee that long.  At home he went once in his pants and twice (big pees, too) in the potty.

Friday: In the morning before we left he made a big pee in the potty.  These big pee-pees give me hope, because last time we did this, we only got little drops.  Now, it actually looks like he peed everything into the potty; maybe he’s willing to work with us, after all.  At gan he doesn’t go at all – not in his pants and not in the potty.  I pick him up at 12:00, because it’s Friday.  The ganenet says, “He just holds it in, he doesn’t want to go.  He definitely has his own opinions.”  Yep, he does.  We sit him on the toilet, and he goes again.  He wakes up dry after his nap (which was pretty long).  Then three pee-pees in his pants, one of them with poop, too (obviously, right after Yitzchak left for shul (synagogue).

Shabbat: Twice he made teeny drops of pee in the potty, probably just to get us off his back.  Three poops and two pees in his underwear.

Sunday: Two pee-pees in his pants at gan.  At home, once a little pee in the potty that continued even after he got dressed again, and one pee-pee just in his pants.  He ran away from the door to gan in the morning and ran away from the door to the house in the afternoon.  Both, presumably, because he knew he’d be put on the potty when he came in.  Big temper tantrum when we tried to put him on the potty.  Eventually he calmed down when we gave him his awful butterfly.  When I drop Shlomo off in the morning I speak to the ganenet.  I tell her what happened on Friday and Shabbat, and she just says, “Oy yoy yoy,” and sighs.  Then she says it’s easier to train them at age two, and now it’s a little later so it’s harder.  I remind her that we’ve tried to train him already and tell her that we did that at two years and a month or so.  She asks if I want to give up.  I say no, he’s big enough, he needs to be trained.  On the way back from dropping Shlomo off at gan, I remember that my youngest brother also refused to train, until he was almost three and my mother forced him.  Great.  He gets it from both sides.  Is this like teething, where late gene + late gene = super-late gene?  I hope not.

Monday: One pee-pee on the floor when we were getting dressed, right after he insisted on getting off the potty.  To his credit, there is also some pee in the potty.  (I tell Yitzchak that we’re saving the pee till the afternoon because I forgot to make a fuss about it and let him flush the toilet.  Ew, but whatever.)  One more little drop while we were heading out the door (didn’t change him, though).  Three pee-pees in his pants at gan.  One pee-pee in his pants at home.  Again, temper tantrum when we tried to put him on the toilet.  This time, lasting longer and only stopping right before I got home.  Eventually he agreed to sit on the potty and play with his awful butterfly (which is his official potty-training toy).

Tuesday: No pee in the potty this morning,  but none on the floor, either.  The whole walk to gan I tell him, like I did on Sunday and less so yesterday, that he needs to go in the toilet for the ganenet and not in his pants.  That what the ganenet says, goes (just like you can’t ignore her and pretend you don’t know Hebrew).  Yitzchak picks Shlomo up at a quarter to four and calls me: The ganenet said to just give him back his diaper, he’s not interested.  I wonder what she thinks about all this . . .

Does He Know Hebrew?

hebrew, english, translator, hebrew letters, english letters, hebrew speaking kids, english speaking kdis, bilingual

This year, Shlomo is going to preschool.  Why?  Well, because towards the end of this past school year, I started seeing signs that he was ready.  I can’t exactly explain it, but the signs were there, and I knew that I had to find him something for next year.  The question was only what, and how many days/hours per week.  And obviously, if he needs to be in preschool, I’m not going to stay home by myself, right?

In the end, we found a great preschool (gan), except that it’s from 7:30 until 4:00 (except on Friday, when they end at 12:00).  Not my dream; I would have preferred shorter days.  On the other hand, until I had my schedule in hand, knowing where he’s be until 4 was a good thing.  (As it turns out, they take a nap from 1:15 until 3:00, then they wake up, have a snack, and it’s pick-up time.  So I guess there’s no real difference between a gan that ends at one and his gan.)

The gan is great.  The ganenet (preschool teacher) is wonderful.  He loves going, he loves to be there, and he’s not usually in a rush to come home – first he has to finish what he’s playing with.  The ganenet loves him.  He has a slight issue parting from us in the morning, but apparently, the minute we walk out the door, he’s happy again.  All is good, thank G-d.

Yesterday, the ganenet told Yitzchak that he doesn’t understand the word, “ba,” (came).  When Yitzchak told me this, I scoffed at him – Shlomo has told me a few times, “bo’oo,” (come, in plural) and patted the floor.  I wasn’t sure if Shlomo understood that “bo” and “come” were synonyms, but he definitely knew the word.  Of course, Yitzchak was surprised.

Also yesterday, Shlomo told me, “shan, shan.”  It took me a few minutes to figure out what he wanted, and then I understood.  “Lishon,” to sleep.  Or at least, I thought I understood.  I decided to find out if I was right.

“Atah rotzeh lishon (do you want to sleep)?” I asked.

“Yeah?” he answered.

“You want to go to sleep?”

“Yeah?”

“Az im atah rotzeh lishon telech l’mitah shelcha v’neileich lishon (so if you want to go to sleep, go to your bed and we’ll go to sleep),” I said.

He gets up and starts walking towards his bed; when he gets there, he points in – pick me up and put me in my bed.

Oops, Shlomo, you’re caught red-handed.  You don’t know Hebrew?  Umm, I think you were ignoring the ganenet, who is nice and wants to make sure that if you’re having a hard time, we get you some help right away.  I gave Shlomo a talk about listening to the ganenet.  Then Yitzchak called, I told him the story, and he told me to tell Shlomo that he’d be in trouble if that happened again.  I relayed the message and Shlomo’s face suddenly got really serious.

Today, Yitzchak took Shlomo to gan.  He told the ganenet that Shlomo was ignoring her, and gave Shlomo another speech.  When Yitzchak came to pick Shlomo up in the afternoon, the ganenet told him that she’d spoken to him in Hebrew, all day, with her hands behind her back (so she wouldn’t give him any clues), and that he did everything she told him.  She was pretty surprised that he knew Hebrew this well, and even more surprised to hear that Shlomo has been using the word, “bo,” at home.  Then Yitzchak told Shlomo in Hebrew to come to him, and then to bring his backpack.  Shlomo looked at him, thought for a second, and listened.

People used to tell us that Shlomo doesn’t know Hebrew (and won’t) because we speak English at home.  Honestly, I wonder which language Shlomo understands better – English or Hebrew (and I’ve wondered that for a while).