People have been asking us how the kids are doing with all the transitions. They’re doing ok, I guess. They don’t seem to miss New York and are excited to live in Israel.
But. C’mon, you had to know there was a but.
Their behavior has been, um, less than stellar. Not with their grandparents, of course, with whom we stayed for nearly two weeks, but with dear old mom and dad. The usual tantrums from both, due to age (3) and propensity for high drama (in case you’re new to the blog, Miss M channels Scarlett O’Hara pretty often), but with a certain degree of edge. It’s been really hot, so their outdoor time is limited. They’ve been going to bed way too late, in part because AM has been falling asleep in the car in the afternoon as we go places and doesn’t nod off until after 9 pm. We don’t have a routine; we’ve been taking them on errands; and there is nervousness about school. AM because he’s never been, and Miss M because she knows that she is facing a language barrier.
But instead of the language issue making her shy at the playground, it’s making her obnoxious. Picking on smaller kids, making faces at everyone, and being generally mean. It makes me feel sick to see her act this way; though I know it’s a defense mechanism, it’s making me nervous about being with her in public because I don’t have the Hebrew language skills to explain what’s eating her.
Anyway, we’ve engaged a lovely British woman as a Hebrew tutor for her, a crash course before school begins, just to help her try to make conversation and draw her out in positive ways.
But back to the kids (plural): they have been unusually nasty to each other, pinching and biting and sneering exchanges. This evening, on the way out to dinner (because while our fridge was delivered, our stove was not), I decided to take a new tack. Sick and tired of the screaming from the backseat, I whipped around and delivered the following ultimatum:
“What is WRONG with you?! I’ve just had enough of the two of you being so terrible to each other! Miss M, I want you to say something nice about AM. NOW.”
“Miss M, can you try to say something kind about your brother?”
“But he bit me.”
“I bited her,” AM added helpfully.
“AM, can you say something nice about Miss M?”
“I don’t know,” he said, lifting both palms towards me in his version of a shrug.
“Let me show you what I mean,” I said, turning to Taxman.
“I think Abba has a beautiful voice. He sings very nicely. Now Abba is going to say something nice about Ema.”
“DO IT,” I hiss.
“Ema is the best cook I know.”
“Thank you, Abba. Ok, now Miss M, can you say something nice about AM?”
“I like it when AM sings the Rakevet Alef-Bet song.”
“Good one, Miss M.”
“Wasn’t that a nice compliment?”
“Yes, it was. AM, how about you? Do you have something nice to say about your sister?”
[Palms up, again] “I think there’s something wrong with Miss M.”
At this point, of course, I have to turn my face away from the backseat because I start laughing so hard I can’t see.
AM, for the win.