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?

Advertisements

Valentine’s Day is Stupid

I wrote this post on Februart 15, 2016.

It really is.

Hearts, cookies, wine, cards to the entire class . . . and for what purpose?

If you love someone, you put effort into your relationship every day.

If you don’t love someone, Valentine’s day won’t help that.

If you are in a relationship, you should be putting in more effort than cookies and wine on February 14th.

If you’re not in a relationship, a day to make you feel single is just dumb.

 

Same goes for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and every other Hallmark holiday that was created for poochy-moochy.

In Israel, we have the 15th of Av, a historical holiday commemorating the massive matchmaking dances of ancient Israel (we’ve been here thousands of years, remember?). And today, it has become a kind of Israeli valentine’s day, except less drippingly-sweet (no hearts handed out to the entire class, no candies) and with a few traces more meaning.

The issue is that in recent years, Israel has started to adopt February 14 as Valentine’s day, too. So now we have 15 of Av, a historical holiday which is celebrated as a day of relationships and love. AND we have February 14, because, well, it’s another day to sell stuff.

It’s not just stupid. It’s consumer-ism at its best (or rather, worst).

We don’t need Valentine’s day. And really, neither does anyone else.

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.)

Fields of Poppies

I wrote this post on February 18, 2016.

I keep hearing about “Darom Adom,” or “A Red South.” It’s basically a weekend festival, for a few weekends in a row.

I don’t have time or energy to go to any festivals shmestivals, but some green fields or forests sounded nice.

I found Darom Adom’s site, and started checking which fields were closest to us.

And then Yitzchak says, “I don’t feel comfortable walking around in fields of poppies, especially given the security situation.”

“What? Seriously? Because they’re poppies?”

He doesn’t get it. So I say, “Among the fields the poppies blow between the crosses row on row . . .”

I’m off. I know I am. But that first stanza is printed on every Canadian $5(?) bill, and I read the bills, so I learned that little piece by heart.

He says, “You learned that somewhere?”

I say, “No, it’s on Canadian bills, I memorized it.” Then I look it up. Yep, I was off by quite a few words in that first line. The rest of the first stanza I knew pretty well, though.

And now I don’t want to go to poppy fields either. Thanks, Yitzchak.

You know, it’s been nine years since I’ve thought of anything related to poppies. Maybe we can make it like red, white, and green (and black and orange, and pumpkins with faces) and just let North American shtik lie in its grave?

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?)

 

Weddings and Dresses

I wrote this post a few weeks ago, but didn’t publish it right away, because . . . because, because I was mad at myself. In the end I wore an awful nylon skirt, with an awful nylon shirt that I got from Mom (it used to be hers), and looked pretty decent. The kids looked way cuter. But at least I wasn’t over- or under-dressed.

I don’t have fancy clothes anymore.

I mean, I do. But they’re not really fancy. I used to have suits (jacket and skirt, not pants), but I don’t wear suits anymore. I used to have jackets, but now they either a) don’t fit me, or b) just aren’t nice anymore. Plus, I don’t like wearing a lot of black.

Actually, most of my nice clothes fit me only for a few months after our wedding. And then little by little the selection got smaller. The only nice skirt I have today is this awful nylon skirt. And it isn’t even that nice, either.

Most of the time, I couldn’t care less. But when I have to dress fancy, like for a wedding, I really feel the lack.

And here’s the problem: I don’t have the time, patience, or money to go shopping.

I hate clothes shopping. Most of what I see, I won’t wear. What I might wear is either horrifically expensive, needs alterations, or both. And why would I want t spend a lot of money on something that I don’t like AND have to fix?

So, I don’t.

Well, we have a wedding on Monday night and I am the only one without anything semi-nice to wear. And worse, it’s a family we’re very close to. You could say it’s our “adopted” family.

Hopefully, it will be chilly and rainy on Monday and I will be able to wear a sweater. I *have* nice sweaters, and if I pair one with that awful nylon skirt, I’ll look fine.

But honestly, I was really stupid.

I knew this wedding was coming up. I should’ve looked online and ordered something for 50 shekels. Now, it’s too late.

But for the next wedding, I will find a nice dress online, with free shipping, and try it out. I’ll order early, so that I have time to return or exchange it if necessary. And I’ll order something that size isn’t an issue for. (Let’s just say I’m still carrying around baby weight from Tova. And I never lost all the weight from Shlomo, either – although I am still *much* skinnier than my mother, sister, and most other family members who have had kids.)

Maximum, I’ll need two: one for when I’m nursing, and one for when I’m not. (Wait, so that means I should have ordered one for nursing in. Because I’m still nursing Tova, and don’t see her weaning anytime soon.)

And I’ll just save the dress, or two, for when I need something fancy.

And that will be that.

Next time.

Do You Like to Gossip?

Growing up, I was always the “big-mouth.” If I had a penny for every time I was told that I have “diarrhea of the mouth,” “don’t know when to stop talking,” “don’t care about other people’s feelings,” “never think before I open my mouth,” “my word is mud,” or other such things – I would have been a millionaire before my twenty-second birthday. Maybe even a billionaire.

At some point, I stopped sharing personal information because I couldn’t trust those around me to keep things confidential, and promises were never kept.

And at some point, I stopped being mad at the people who blabbed. Because I just stopped caring.

It just ain’t worth the effort. So, I moved on.

A few days ago, I received an invitation to answer a survey. I’ve been answering surveys online for a few months, because it’s good pocket money and they’re interesting.

The one I answered last week asked about political views and morals.

One of the sections asked how often I gossip. What I think about gossip – is it okay? Is it not okay? Do I like hearing gossip?

And suddenly I realized something:

I don’t gossip. As in, not at all. Maybe once in a while, a sentence or two slips out when I’m frustrated and someone asked in a way that doesn’t leave too many options to be nice. And then I get a bit carried away. Once in about six months, maybe six sentences.

That’s it.

And otherwise, I don’t talk about people. I don’t gossip. I don’t blab.

The only exception is to Yitzchak. And even then, I don’t gossip, I just vent.

But come on, guys. Yitzchak is my husband. I tell him *everything*. He tells me *everything*. And the rest of the world – well, why waste time talking to them, since most people couldn’t care less, anyways?

So, we don’t.

We tell each other. And that’s it.

I see no point in gossiping. It’s stupid. It’s the mark of someone who has nothing better to think about. It’s the mark of someone whose nose is *so* stuck in other people’s business, that they have no idea who they are inside, at all. If, that is, they even have something inside. And all it does is hurt the subject and the listener – and most of all, the person doing the gossiping . . . because people who like to gossip are, honestly, pitiful people.

But, walla. I never realized that I’m *not* a big mouth, that I’m *not* a gossip, that I *don’t* actually have “diarrhea of the mouth,” and that I *do* actually know how to keep my mouth shut and stop talking.

(Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t say politically incorrect things, at bad times, on purpose. But gossip and being politically incorrect are two separate, very different things.

I mean, there is *never* a “proper time” to ask a smoker to stop smoking around you.

There’s *never* a proper way to say, “The Iran deal that Obama pushed is what’s allowing Iran to give $30,000 to the families of terrorists,” or “‘Palestinian’ workers in Israel commit terror attacks – maybe they shouldn’t be allowed into Israel anymore.”

I mean, come on. Some things are *never* politically correct. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be said. It just means people will get mad. Because people are stupid (and that’s not PC, either).

But so what? PC is stupid. That doesn’t mean that not being PC is the same as being a gossip, or someone who doesn’t know how to keep their mouth shut.)

I never realized that I am actually a very prudent person, someone who it is *worth* confiding in, not just for the advice, but because I don’t gossip.

Walla. I never realized that.

That’s cool. That feels really good, to know that I never gossip. That must be why people ask me for advice. Huh. I can’t believe I didn’t know this earlier.

And what’s cooler is that I learned this from an internet survey.