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Archive for the ‘Fire in the hole’ Category

Once upon a time, several weeks ago, I started a Facebook thread in a group I belong to. It’s mostly moms, all very smart, thoughtful people. Most of them live in the United States, though there are a sprinkling of us from Elsewhere, or expats, or temporarily assigned abroad.

I mentioned that AM, who is now 9 — “almost 10,” he says, as one does who is nearing one’s half-birthday — has started riding his bike one kilometer to his twice-weekly tennis lessons, thereby allowing me to take Miss M across town for a class that begins at the same time.

tennis class

After-school tennis class, comprised mostly of 4th graders. AM in is the green shirt.

It was meant as an “it gets better” post, to give hope to the people who feel as if they are drowning in the never-ending demands of their tiny despots and the society that expects us to chauffeur them everywhere, while holding down a job and keeping a spotless house. On Sundays, when both my kids have these simultaneous after-school activities, I actually have an nearly an hour TO MYSELF. In the middle of the afternoon! It’s a whole new chapter, let me tell you. (I don’t spend it cleaning. What am I, crazy?)

People mentioned that Israel, in their minds, was an unsafe place, but are wise enough to know that they are under the influence of the photographs and descriptions that make the international media. Suicide bombings, war operations, major riots, be they Palestinian or ultra-Orthodox, make it through, of course (and well as LOOK AT ALL THAT TECH IN TEL AVIV AND ALSO BEACHES WITH HOTTIES), but not wildflowers and cool graffiti.

I described my boring giant suburb, where there are dozens of parks, and horrible traffic during school dropoff and pickup hours, and they roll up the sidewalks at 9:30 at night, but obviously it’s a different experience from an American suburb with the same vibe. So I volunteered to take pictures.

And I did. But then I got busy with holidays and the kids were underfoot for two weeks, and I was trying to work, and the general mess of life took over before I got a chance to post the pictures.

And then Israelis started being attacked. It started with a shocking murder of parents in front of their children, and then within days the entire country was on alert. There have been stabbings, Molotov cocktails, and giant rocks being thrown at cars and busses. The flash point is allegedly the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the location of the Al-Aqsa mosque and under control of the Waqf, and the fear that Jews will be allowed to visit in larger numbers and pray there (they currently cannot, under threat of arrest), although the Netanyahu government has repeatedly stated that there is no intention of a change to this policy. Regardless, this is being used as justification to rally the hatred of many people, some of whom have literally taken to the streets with knives and rocks and intent to kill.

(NB: It is pretty difficult to obtain a gun here, hence the weapons of choice.)

It is too much to go into the entire history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict here. Let’s just say that it goes back much further than the Gaza withdrawal, the Sinai withdrawal, the wars of 1973, 1967, 1956, or 1948, or the Balfour declaration. People of different religions and different (though similar) ethnic backgrounds sharing this space goes back for many generations. Jews have been in the historical record here for more than 3,000 years, so I don’t really like it when we are told to go back to where we came from. (Also note that if you’re talking recently, the Israelis who have come from Arab lands have nowhere to go back to – they are unwelcome in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, north Africa and elsewhere.)

Please note: I am fully aware that many people who live in the Palestinian Authority have difficulties, be they economic or otherwise. Some of these are brought on by their horrifically corrupt governments (Hamas and Fatah), that glorify violence and give payouts to families of terrorists and take away their international aid in order to build more terrorist infrastructure or build luxury palaces in Ramallah or Qatar. Some are brought on by the Boycott, Sanction, & Divestment movement, which alleges to want to help them but instead takes away their jobs. They feel trapped. This is understandable. But it’s not about “settlers,” because we are all settlers to the Palestinian Authority government.

As I pointed out on Facebook, ridding Israel of its Jews would not, I’m guessing, bring a utopian peace to the land, because all those Arab countries that are now empty of their centuries worth of Jewish communities – Aleppo, Damascus, Sanaa, Baghdad, Cairo, and others –  are experiencing civil and religious unrest even now, decades later. Imagine that!

Ok, back to right now. Things are very tense. Even in my boring, “undisputed” (although Arab governments like Iran and the Palestinian Authority, would gladly have it, and me, gone) city there are now checkpoints and beefed up police presence, because we are at no less risk than Tel Aviv, Afula, Kiryat Gat, Petach Tikva, and all the other previously quiet places that have suffered from vicious attacks lately. (I know, I know, you’re thinking: Where on earth is Afula? It’s a little industrial, mixed Arab-Jewish city in the north of Israel, home to an amazing cafe that we try to stop at every time we take a trip even vaguely in that direction.) And now there are revenge attacks in Jerusalem, Dimona, on the roads. It’s horrible.

So I have been putting of my show of normalcy. (Although, to tell the truth, what is mostly making the news is only when the terrorists are taken down, now with extra slant!) But if this is an intifada, when is the right time to explain to people that I am ok? That we are taking safer roads to Jerusalem, but I still worry about my kids’ teachers, who live beyond the so-called green line? That the idea of pulling up stakes now and deserting the country that would have me under ANY circumstances is just not going to happen?

How about right now? Yes. Right now. Here is a slice of my neighborhood. (And, full disclosure, the next one over.)

The city I live in is in a landing path for Tel Aviv”s Ben Gurion airport. Which is actually in the city of Lod, but Tel Aviv is way more sexy. Sometimes the planes fly very low, and the 747s sound like they are going to land in my backyard.

flight path

This large apartment complex might be an architectural eyesore masquerading as a nod to the Romans (it’s an aquaduct! it’s a plane! it’s terrible!), but it’s a great landmark when giving directions.

arch

This is a fantastic park. Americans might see it as a lawsuit waiting to happen, I don’t know.

high slides

This is a complex of kindergartens for age 5. They feed into the elementary school next door, where my kids attend.

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An elementary school with different types of residential buildings rising on the hill beyond. The sign is warning you to go slow because there is a school.

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A cute park for smaller kids, in the shadow of three high-rise apartment buildings.

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My city’s branch of Yad Sarah, a wonderful organization that loans medical equipment to anyone who needs it, including breastpumps, crutches, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, and about a million other things. It has a big volunteer base and services people all over the country.

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A synagogue that prays in style of Jews that came from north Africa, mixed with Israeli customs.

shul

A meditative spot that is a memorial for fallen soldiers and residents killed in terror attacks. It is carefully tended and has signs up forbidding dogs and ball playing.

memorial site

I joke that these are the native birds of Modiin. (Cranes, get it?) The city is still under construction and allegedly will keep going until it’s home to 250,000 people. This is shocking to me, because we’re only at 90,000 and it’s already impossible to find a parking place at the mall on Friday morning.

the birds of Modiin

Dinner rush at the city’s best falafel place. That’s Miss M in the middle of the scrum.

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Did someone order a ham with his falafel? Nope. Just pickles and hummus and fries.

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Rising up

Apathy over. Registering to vote.

I don’t think my particular vote will matter, but I have to have a clear conscience. So, thanks for that, Mitt Romney–your VP choice was frightening enough that I am rising up and standing up for choice.

I am flustered that it is THIRTY-SIX years after Roe v. Wade and this (this!) is my single-issue vote, but there you have it.

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Fading away

Summer is suddenly drawing to a close. Many of the things I had planned to do with the kids (typing tutorial for Miss M, a photo album for AM) got consumed by hours of creating things out of Fimo, watching the Fimo bake in the oven, playing with the baked Fimo items, and making messes in the basement. Good times.

There was also a huge amount of time consumed by bickering, so we can check that one off the list.

Up until last week, Miss M was excited about school and AM was nervous.

Then we found out that Miss M’s teacher for first and second grade was going to be his teacher for first and second grade. Now he is excited. Miss M, forced to give up her tiny shred of hope that her teacher would move to third grade with the class, is nervous.

We had a vacation. It was fabulous (though the lodging I found was decidedly average). It pisses me off a little bit that like 80% of the best hikes and fun things to do with kids are located two hours to the north. Just far enough away that you really need to stay overnight to do them.

I guess there’s next summer to go explore more? Although AM is pushing to go to America next summer. To go to my parents’ house and water their plants. (HI, MOM!) Hey, if he’s paying I’ll do anything he wants. NB: He is going to earn the money a half-shekel at a time, by scooping dead jukim (big ugly bugs) into the toilet so his mother doesn’t have to.

The holidays (you know, the holidays) start in three weeks. I can’t wrap my brain around that one. (Next year is worse; Rosh Hashana is September 4th or 5th or something ridiculous like that.)

In the meantime, I am just going to sit back and let the last day of summer vacation wash over me. Monday morning it’s all backpacks and aruchat eser and white school shirts…then I’ve got to buckle down and do the work I’ve been meaning to get to for the past few weeks but haven’t. Because of the bickering, don’t you know.

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Thud!

Well! Clearly my introspection navel-gazing is unappealing. So I will quit that right now.

Unfortunately, I am low on inspiration, since my part-time job(s) seem to be taking over my life, a little bit, which is actually good because children cost a lot of money to house/feed/clothe/educate/send to pricey day camps for ONLY ONE-THIRD OF THE SUMMER HOLY CRAP.

Today was Miss M’s 8th birthday. Though, as I admitted to Taxman this morning, after he ferried two pans worth of chocolate mini-cupcakes to her class, once AM turns age x, I automatically think of her as x+2. In some ways she’s growing up, but in others…let’s just say that the leopard doesn’t change its spots. I am going to turn that to my advantage, because I’ve been parenting this leopard for eight years now.

For your amusement, I give you Deep Thoughts Theater:

Reasons to Not Have More Than One Child:

Holy hell, the whining! The fighting about nothing! The last-second race to the bathroom to be first to brush  teeth, even though they know they should do it right after breakfast! The crying because somebody won the race and the other somebody got knocked down in the process!  TIMES EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Kill me right now!

Reasons to Have As Many Children As Your Sanity/Wallet Can Accomodate:

“AM, want to help me decorate my cupcakes? If Ema says it’s ok, you can have one.”

“Yes, Miss M. Thank you! You’re my best friend!”

“I’m your best sister! I’m going to be your sister forever!”

(Bury me. I died of melty adorableness.)

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Yes, there was a phantom post that I 20% wrote, then deleted, but WordPress decided to be all “Wha? I cannot let you do that! Instead I will post it and make you look like an idiot!”

I will get back to that post, though, because it contains Important Aliyah Information about…men’s pants. Don’t thank me; I am a GIVER.

So, really, my brain is not working so well. Because that puppy we found? She is still with us. But we want to find her a home that is not here. Puppies? Are WORK. And while she is lovely and has amazing potential, we have a dog already, who is her own kind of commitment but does not wake up at 5 am to go out, eat four times a day, or relieve herself in the house (usually). These are all temporary things, I know, that evaporate over a dog’s lifetime. But in here and now, I don’t know that I have these particular rainy, busy weeks in me.

I have found a ton of parallels between puppy watching and baby raising. Keep them safe, warm, fed, clean (this is actually easier with diapers). Referee sibling fights-slash-play. Enforce bed time and potty breaks. Never let them out of your sight unless they are in a safe space. Etc.

Doing this while having another dog, two kids, a husband, and part-time work is…busy-making. At the same time, we rescued this puppy on purpose, so we don’t want to turn her out in the street or give her to the city pound.

For a period of time, I wanted to keep her. She’s adorable! But I think it was for the wrong reasons. I guess I wanted something to baby and to “raise right.” My kids vacillate between amazing and extremely trying these days. The dog we already have came housebroken but has her own issues that we can’t seem to solve ourselves (one of these days we are going to pay a trainer), so I was looking at this puppy as a chance to do puppy training correctly and fabulously.

I think what finally put me back to rational thinking (besides the fact that my husband was against it from the beginning…which, you know, a puppy is not a goldfish or something small and contained) was when the little one peed on the big one’s bed–in her apparent quest for dominance. This was after the big one had peed on her own bed earlier, as a show of “this is my space.” Endless fun with the pee and the washing of dog beds.

I have already facebooked and tweeted about this, but please, if you are in Israel and you (or someone you know) are willing to be a good mommy/daddy to this puppy–who is smart! learned her name and how to sit and is fine in the crate and goes 6.5 hours at night at 8 weeks and has had her first set of shots–please get in touch with me.

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Yesterday I put out on Twitter: Parenting: The intersection of “I love you so much!” and “I find you so incredibly irritating!”

The ying-yanginess of it all just sometimes gets to me.

I wish I could spend more time with the kids individually, but they are both at home for most of the afternoon, most afternoons during the week, and it wears on all of us. They are sometimes the best of friends, but sometimes just get on each others’ nerves.

Neither has learned the magic art of “leaving well enough alone”–e.g., if AM is entertaining himself with his cars, not needing anything from anyone, Miss M will suddenly drift to where he is. When he sees her, he demands (or sometimes asks politely) to play. She demurs. He gets pissy and winds up either throwing a tantrum or physically attacking her in some way. Then my head explodes, because what the hell was she doing there in the first place?

But alone? They’re great people.

Miss M has a head full of stories and “great ideas!” As long as you’re not anxious to get anywhere in a timely fashion she is a hoot.

AM is like a minature adult–he was complaining of a backache for a few days (because 5 is the new 55, apparently), so this morning I took him to the doctor. But first we went to the grocery store, where he held the list, put in the cheese order, and insisted on unloading the cart on to the belt. Then we split a cappuccino and an almond croissant. In the waiting room, he wound up playing Connect 4 with some kid he didn’t know. (Um. Extrovert much?) He’s getting dangerously close to understanding sarcasm. Which will be very fun, when it happens.

It’s just that every afternoon I want to run screaming from my house. And I know their interactions are normal, and that when the chips are down they are good together, it’s the day-to-day-to-day that makes me want to hide in my room until bedtime. You know, “I love you, but please go away.”

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Around the bend

(I wish I had the time and energy to add to my previous post, after Obama’s speech about the Middle East situation and the Israeli response to it. I don’t. But if anyone is interested, I can point you to links and good Twitter sources about it. Try @israellycool, for starters.)

Yesterday I took the kids on a little field trip. We took small roads to get there, including a two-lane, twisty number through the Jerusalem hills to the east of Bet Shemesh.

There was road construction, and a flagman signalled me to stop. I was at the head of what grew to be a line of about 10 cars. I could see ahead to the other end of the two-lanes-in-one part of the road; there wasn’t very much of it. Nothing was going on, so I was beginning to think this was someone’s cigarette break. I was sure that someone behind me was going to lose patience and start honking at me–that is what you do–and I was losing patience myself.

Finally, I was allowed to pass. I travelled for a few meters on the left side of the road (the “wrong” side), then followed the cones and was guided back to the right side. I continued up the hill.

But I noticed that the road on the downward slope had been stripped of its asphalt. There were orange cones running down the middle of the road, but no signal people to be seen. There was a shoulder, but it disappeared in an especially steep section. I proceeded to freak out: if someone were barrelling down the hill at 80 kph, a) I wouldn’t be able to see them coming and b) I had nowhere to go and c) head-on collisions are especially gruesome, no?

Finally, after a few very long minutes, I came around a corner and passed through another roadblock. Where cars slated to go down the hill in the “uphill” lane were waiting their turn. I started to breathe normally again.

I wish I knew what was coming ahead. I wish things were mapped out, or that the map reflected reality. It would be really good for my mental health.

Of course, this isn’t the way.

Image by artiii, used under Flickr Creative Commons license.

 

I am 36 and still coming to terms.

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