Saturday, September 25, 2010

Essential Yiddish: Part II

                                                    "Yiddish" in Yiddish 
I've been meaning to write a follow up to my post, Essential Yiddish: Part I, for quite some time. Not that I'm some kind of Yiddish expert. It's just that, having grown up with Yiddish swirling around my suburban Skokie house, listening to my mother give colorful commentary on everyone who walked in and out of our lives, I can't imagine life without it. Yiddish, to use a Yiddish word, is poonkt - a Yiddish word for getting something just right, perfectly, even if we're talking about my house, which is never actually just right or perfect.

                                                   The Yiddish Hoarder

The other day I was watching "Hoarders: Buried Alive." When the show was over I suddenly noticed that I hadn't seen my master bathtub in quite a while because of all the chazerai [haz-er-eye] (junk) I had piled in it. This was because I had taken that chazerai out of my closet and needed somewhere to put it. It's a constantly shifting pile of drek (see Post #1) around here, basically.

Since I was watching Hoarders with Daughter, a true nudnik [nood-nick] (precocious child), she noticed the resemblance between the house on the TV set and my bathroom. She said, "Mom, you're a hoarder!"

I took a deep breath. Instead of shraying [shrie-ing] (yelling) about it, moaning about it, wailing about it, I looked around and I thought, I need all that chazerai like a loch in kopp (hole in my head). But I wasn't sure I'd have the coyach [koy-ach] (energy) to do all the cleaning myself. So I asked the kleina [klayna] (little one) nudnik to help and Bar Mitzvahzilla, who, with all his football training, has become quite the shtarker (heavy lifter, tough guy).

And soon, though I was farmisht (exhausted); though I thought I might plotz (collapse) - the tub? Gornisht [gor-neesh-ed] (nothing). Empty.

Do you have things laying around that you need like a hole in your head? Do you find yourself using one of your kids for heavy lifting and that they have to help you now instead of vice versa? Do you have a secondary language that adds some color to your speech?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Comatose Parenting - Redux

Husband and I were kind of unprepared to be parents, at least to a baby like Bar Mitzvahzilla. Born a pound and a half, he came home after ten weeks in the hospital weighing almost four pounds and hauling a lot of medical equipment, like an apnea monitor, an oxygen tank, special foods and medications, and he had to go to various doctors and specialists three times a week.

Also, he was a smart little baby. The hospital was a twenty-four-hour-a-day atmosphere and all the nurses loved him so he learned to stay up and play with them, as well as a tiny little baby can play. Let me tell you, besides saving his life, the nurses in the NICU and the Continuing Care Nursery really knew how to love a baby. The problem was, he didn't really get the whole Sleep During the Night schtick, much to Husband and my chagrin.

So suddenly there was this tiny, needy, scary looking thing plugged in, really, all over the house to various machines, and he was awake all the time. Husband and I coped as best we could. We set up four-hour shifts of sleeping and caretaking and rotated them so that both of us could be sure we'd get some sleep and our share of middle of the night misery. We'd each hit a breaking point, kind of rotate a breaking point between us, if you will, and, depending on our mental state, our general bug-eyed appearance, the pallor of our skin, and how much of our hair was standing on end, we'd give each other a break.

That's kind of how life feels right now. Not because Bar Mitzvahzilla is in any kind of fragile medical state, which he's not. But because of our wild-eyed frenzy. We assess each other each day. Who's been driving since 6:45 in the morning, and it's now 9 PM? Who has poured herself in a heap on the bed and can't move (that's always me)? Who drove to the high school five separate times in one day because of various football-related pick ups and drop offs? Who can handle the moment, at 9 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when five hundred Jewish parents descend on the JCC all at once to pick up their teenagers from Hebrew High and who will melt down?

So who would have thought that at this late date in parenting we'd get this strange reminder of the earliest days of parenting, and via the same kid - Bar Mitzvahzilla? And that, somehow, we'd remember how to do the same thing all over again. The last one standing, the last one not crying with fatigue - that one goes for the final pick up.

Do you remember those days of bringing home a newborn? Did you have a method to balance the exhausted partners? Any random acts of lovingkindness to those you love lately?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Don't Rush Rosh Hashana

In the row behind us at Rosh Hashana services this year was a family with young children. It was like being transported in time, watching them panic over the antics of their younger child who had no idea he was in a High Holiday service or how that differed from, say, Peter Piper Pizza.

What a difference a few years makes. I remember sitting there (standing there, running there) with my kids and looking longingly at the families with older children, children the ages of mine now, Bar Mitzvahzilla fifteen and Daughter eleven. I mean, I enjoyed that whole baby thing, and what was really ever cuter than Daughter in a little dress crawling with matching pantaloon thingies on anyway? But still. Services.

Still, we never put our kids in the babysitting offered and dreaded the "children's service" since we couldn't hear ourselves think. And we felt sorry for the Rabbi who'd have to conduct the service over the din. And we - okay I - really think that kids have to learn how to stand still. Especially considering that they spend the rest of the time ripping our house to shreds, for example. I explain to them that it's not that Husband and I love being at services, but it's Rosh Hashana. It's kind of amazing that we're still Jewish thousands of years later. Not to mention the Holocaust.

Do they complain before we go? Yes. Do they ask questions about why we have to go? Yes. This year I got a double whammy from Daughter since the first day was her birthday. Wait just a minute. I have to go to services on my birthday? Lucky her, I explained, sharing a birthday with the birthday of the world! I swear, I can put a positive spin on anything.

She was born on a different Rosh Hashana, eleven years ago. Because of Bar Mitzvahzilla's preemie birth, she had to be delivered four weeks early, on 9-9-99, as a matter of fact. By Yom Kippur I was back in synagogue with my newborn in my arms and the congregation oohing and aahing over her. She's grown up there, whether she realizes it or not.

So don't rush my Rosh Hashana, kids. Some things take the time they take. Time to sit and time to stand. Time to think about the last year and the year to come. And time to both whisper and yell at the kids at the same time.

So relax and enjoy it. Because Yom Kippur is right around the corner.

How do you handle the inevitable protests of children not wanting to go to religious services? Do you have a long history at your house of worship? Can you think back to the different ages of your children on the same holiday over the years?
I'm participating in the Global Day of Jewish Learning and write this post in anticipation of November 7, 2010, when Jews around the world will share a day of dialogue and exploration.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Zen of Football

Okay, so I've now gone to two of Bar Mitzvahzilla's Freshman high school football games. This hasn't been without some great effort. Being a bit football challenged, just showing up took a lot of resolve. I knew that good moms go to their kid's games. So I had to go. That was that. No matter that each of the games have been away games, and I mean away - like the first one thirty miles north and the second one thirty miles south. And no matter that I soon learned a cruel fact of being the visiting team: our stands invariably face west into the setting sun in the 100 degree Arizona heat. But it's football, right? Suffering's part of the game.

So far our team lost one game and won another. Yesterday I found myself actually enjoying myself, sitting next to Husband and jumping up and down with all the other lunatic parents. The only thing I can't stand is Husband's preachy philosophizing about the game: what plays the coach should have played, what plays he might play, all the possibilities in the world, apparently, that have to be muttered into anyone's ear nearby. Considering that and the guy yelling "'Go Birds" intermittently, I think ear plugs could make this really good.

By the end of the two games Husband was muttering about something else: Bar Mitzvahzilla hadn't played. Today after practice he told me he doesn't expect to. Husband hit the roof but I chose to look at it in a more Zen-like manner.

When I was watching the game yesterday I forgot that my son hadn't actually been on the field because it seemed to me that just being a part of a team was something too - that his team playing was him playing. There were about four injuries during the overall game, moments during which both sides got down wordlessly on one knee and they and the spectators all showed respect for the injured player by clapping as he was taken off the field. Where would Bar Mitzvahzilla have gotten that experience, exactly, if not for football? That kind of reverence, of control, of understanding that sometimes you're a part of something bigger than just yourself. These are lessons I didn't learn till I was forty - that sometimes you just have to do a whole bunch of work and never know if there will be a payoff. That the work itself has meaning.

Also, football's brought some unexpected benefits. There's the fact that he got to start high school knowing a lot of kids, and coming from private school that was a big deal. There's the fourteen pounds of pure muscle he's packed on his frame. There's the fact that on game day he gets to strut around campus in his jersey. And, not least of all, he gets to look up from his position - yes, right now his position seems to be standing and not playing - and see two parents and a sister who love him enough to schlep all over the planet to show support for his team and his endeavor. And sweat.

He can also see his mother who's learning, after nearly eighteen years of marriage to a football fanatic, to enjoy the game.

Do you ever feel like you should keep a list of all the things you did to show love to your kids that they don't appreciate? Giving out any sage advice to children lately? Football anyone?