Saturday, February 25, 2012

Musical Inspirations

A few nights ago, the kids were all in their rather cranky it's-5:00pm-and-we-need-to-drive-mommy-crazy moods. All of a sudden, it seemed out of nowhere, the music turned on; and just as quickly I saw all of the kids start to bop up and down. It was quite cute to see how instantly the mood shifted.

I peeked around a corner to see what was going on, only to find Matan, with a twinkle in his eye, adjusting the volume.

"Brilliant!" I thought to myself. "Why didn't I think of that?"

And with that, the frustrations and rants of the moment melted into dancing and giggling. The baby started moving in circles (apparently his dance step) and would go around and around until he fell down, dizzy. Ok, maybe not the smartest thing in the world on his part; but it sure was fun to watch. Everyone else was giggling and dancing and having a blast.

Matan took out the camera and the tripod and filmed a few videos of all of them. Here is a clip from one of those videos. The kids spontaneously started dancing in this circle - melt a mother's heart on the spot.

It's Chodesh Adar, which means that it's the month when Purim comes. And they are definitely getting into the crazy spirit of the month already.

May it be a wonderful, joyful and healthy one for all of us.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Bright Future

Sunday night, we were privileged to share in the wedding of a child from the yishuv. The night was magical and beautiful, as most weddings are. It was made even that much more special considering what this family had been through.

Five and a half years ago, we stood in the plaza outside of our main shul and watched them say goodbye to their 4 year old son and brother. Pinny, the father, was literally held up by his brothers throughout that terrible afternoon.

This week, he was held up once again by his family, but in joy, in dancing and in anticipation of a bright future for his daughter.

Five and a half years ago, I sat with Chanan's mother, Tzippy, at shiva and wondered how a parent endures such pain.

Sunday, I watched her as she stood under the chuppah, beaming as her own father came up to give the bride and groom a blessing.

Last year, we went to the cemetery for the anniversary of Chanan's death. While Pinny talked about his son, his 2 year old daughter played by the grave. She collected pebbles that she stacked; she danced around; and she jumped from one point to the next. At some point, while her father was talking, someone tried to get her to stop and to pay attention.

"No," said Tzippy. "Let her be."

And this time, I watched as she played again, but now she did so with a woven basket used to sprinkle the aisle with shiny gold decorations. During the ceremony, she placed the basket on her head, she shook it about and she giggled.

I could only imagine that those giggles were reaching the brother that she never met.

People are forced to deal with terrible tragedy. It's all around us.

What has been inspiring, however, is to watch how this family has done so. The amazing lesson for me has been to see the openness about them, the unswerving determination to stay together, to communicate, and to grieve through the pain while always looking for the way through.

And what a gift to share in their joy, rather than in their pain, as they watched the first of their children build her own home and her own future surrounding by the family with whom she has endured so much.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Just Two Little Friends in the Beginning

Last night we went to the Bat Mitzvahs for Shoshana and Adina Ron.

And it was a particularly meaningful occasion for both Josh and me.

Let me take you back seven and a half years. Matan, aged four, had arrived in Israel without knowing a soul and without a word of Hebrew. In this picture, we've just gotten off of the plane, and Matan has decided to attach himself to a soldier who had come with his unit to the airport to greet our Nefesh B'Nefesh flight.

We threw Matan into 4 year old nursery school, where not a single child or teacher knew how to communicate with him.

Except two.

Shoshana and Adina.

They had also arrived during the summer and were, thankfully, in his class. It's funny to think about all of this now, because Neve Daniel had an influx of Anglo immigrants after we arrived. Virtually every class in the town now has floods of English speakers, and we have to remind our children not to speak English during the day.

But, in those days, Shoshana, Adina and Matan only had each other. The teacher, Etty, had been teaching the same class for more than 20 years, and she said that it was her first experience ever teaching children who didn't know Hebrew. And she didn't really know where to begin.

So, our children were the guinea pigs - and the teachers. We explained to Etty that she should have our kids sit near her when she reads aloud so that they can see the pictures, and we offered other hints.

And then we sort of threw the kids into the mix and hoped for the best!

After school, Matan would have play dates with Shoshana and Adina and he loved getting together with the only two other kids who understood him.

And now, here we were already celebrating their Bat Mitzvahs.

Of course, it's been years since Shoshana and Adina had anything to do with Matan (it's that boy-girl thing, you know!) and they've all developed and grown in such beautiful ways.

The girls gave their Dvrei Torah (speeches) in Hebrew, of course, and they danced all night with their gaggles of friends.

And it made me think back to those days and to three little people who had just started out on such an unknown and scary journey.

We all look at our kids and can't believe, at times, how they've grown and changed. But there is an extra element of that feeling of wonder when you've picked your child up, moved him across the world, and watched what happens.

It's amazing today to think about that little boy who knew only English, and knew only two little girls...and to see him going off today to his Bnei Akiva trip surrounded by Hebrew-speaking friends, entrenched in his life in Israel, and preparing for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah next year.

Thanks Shoshana and Adina for being there in the beginning and paving the way with Matan! And Mazal Tov!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Doorknobs! Safety! Manners?

I've been told that the activities that my sons engage in when someone passes gas is universally known. (Yes, you've figured out that this is not going to be one of my more profound or tear-jerking posts.) They have a series of exclamations that include “Doorknobs!” “Safety” and something else I can’t remember. Needless to say, I have no idea what any of it means, but the kids sure do.

So, Zeli, aged all of three, has started saying it as well. He makes a noise, and then I hear, “Doorknobs! Safety!” He has no idea what he’s saying either, but he figures he’s following the trend.

A few days ago, I decided that perhaps I should actually teach him some manners and I explained to him that he should say “Excuse me” when this happens.

Here was our interaction.

Z: (Noise) “Doorknobs! Safety!”

Me: “Zeli, sweetheart. When you do that you really should say “Excuse me.” That’s the nice thing to say.”

Z: Silence. “Why?”

And then I realized that I was in a bit of a bind. If we are teaching our children that their bodies are beautiful and wonderful – why do we apologize when our body makes a noise? I don’t know that this idea has struck me in the past – but it really struck me as Zeli looked at me with the big, blue eyes, waiting for an answer. But, I figured my philosophical child-rearing thoughts would have to wait for another time. This kid needed some direction.

Me: “Um, well….because it’s just the nice thing to do.”

Z: “Hmmmm…..”

Side note here: When someone gives something to Zeli, he doesn’t just say “Thank You.” He says, “Fank You Bery Much!” with as much vigor and energy as you can imagine a three year old mustering.

So, the next day we were back in the family room.

And Zeli made a noise.

And he turned to me, got that twinkle in his eye, and said, “Exuse Me Bery Much!”

And I nearly died laughing.

Maybe doorknobs would have been better after all?