Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bar Mitzvahzilla Gets Pneumonia

Last week, four days before this interminably hot summer came to an end, Bar Mitzvahzilla developed a cough that Husband and I were a little torn over. Go to the doctor or not? We have gone to the doctor many times and been sent on our way, with nothing but a bill to show for our efforts and the words, "It's just a virus." But we decided to go anyway because BZ kept running a fever at night and showing up in our bedroom wanting to get in bed with us, and he's like a hundred pounds and 5'3 and barely fits anywhere now, so we'd prefer he stay in his own bedroom.

The doctor says, "There's a funny sound I hear when he breathes in all the way. I think it's pneumonia. I'll start him on an antiobiotic but I want you to take him for an xray tomorrow. If it is, we'll double up the antibiotic." So, yes on the positive xray and yes on the new medicine. Then BZ compounds matters by throwing up the first two doses of the new medicine, managing to miss the toilet, the garbage can, whatever he may have been aiming for ("It's because I close my eyes when I throw up so I won't gross myself out!") so we end up having to fumigate the entire house.

Then, because of some lingering, primeval preemie memory he has of being poked and prodded by doctors and nurses during his first 10 weeks of life in the hospital, he can't swallow pills and can barely swallow liquids. We have to get them flavored and then disguise them in, like, milkshakes, as if he was two. And he's thirteen. Even with all this subterfuge, he dances around the cups, hems and haws, has chasers of Dr. Pepper and water, and anything else he can scrounge up, and basically takes about 6 hours to get a dose in - just in time for the next dose.

So that's been my life for the last 10 days. Now we're keeping him under wraps - no exposure to potentially ill friends or family. We just need to keep him healthy for the next three weeks, till he's standing on the bimah, reciting his Torah portion. I think we might make it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Day in the Life

Just in case anyone cares, just in case anyone is even reading this, or even if this is just for me, I just want to point out that it's 108 degrees here in Phoenix every day. Last week, when we had just returned from the sweaty, rainy Puerto Vallarta, I kind of liked the "dry" heat, but no more.
Today, since somehow my kids' school starts later than every other child's in Arizona, we all got to hang together for errands.

As usual, they were stuck with me for my morning Jazzercise class. Yes, I would leave my now-thirteen-year-old son home alone and certainly he could watch the eight-year-old, but neither will stay home without me. So he skulks along, walking in the babysitting room filled with two-year-old boys who are eager to get to know him. He hides in the corner with a Star Wars book.

Then on to my sister's chocolate store to approve the centerpieces which were, wow, ongepotchke and ongeblozen and onge-everything. They are about 3 feet tall and silver and blue and have Jewish symbols coming out of the bottom made out of chocolate. Then she showed me the candlelighting thing she put together for me. Bar Mitzvazilla's name is in letters about 10 inches high - a little too big for my liking but I guess everyone at the Bar Mitzvah party should know it's DANIEL's Bar Mitzvah, just in case they forgot. Maybe the glitter will remind them. Or the long white tapers. Or the glittery Jewish stars on the sides. Maybe all of that.

Then we went to a party store to find helium and a huge bag of candy. Came away empty handed. Then we went to another store to find a backpack for the daughter. Came away empty handed. Since it was next to a pet store, we had to stop in there an stare mournfully at the cats for adoption and try to catch the eye of another female Beta, just in case another one could ever be as special as our last fish who died six months ago. No chance. Then onto the library where, once again, I had to turn myself into the library authorities to pay fines for my kids' late fees and hand over replacement books for the books my daughter has lost.

Lunch. Grocery store. Cantor tutoring. Hot, hot, hot. Car off, car on. A/C blasting, then hot again as we re-enter the vehicle.

Phone calls to best friend with cancer, my neighbor, my sister. Collapse. But I can't collapse.
It's only 5:45 pm.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Some Perspective

On Wednesday, a day of much tutoring, everywhere that Bar Mitzvahzilla and I went, we ran into a girl he had gone to school with here and there around town who is having her Bat Mitzvah in two weeks. She told me (because my son can't actually speak in the presence of a girl his own age) that her Hebrew's still pretty rough as far as her Haftorah reading goes and that she's just starting to work on her Bat Mitzvah speech right now.

Oh. Hmm. That gave me a little perspective. Me, the Mom in the witches hat, have been riding my son, haranguing him about this speech like it's a dissertation or something, but here's this girl with two weeks left to go, and she's just starting hers. And my son, on the other hand, has his Hebrew nailed down tight, beautifully memorized by heart, all the ups and downs up it, all the trops of it - perfectly.

So he's gone off this weekend to his cousins' house, both of them his two best friends in the world, carrying along all of his PlayStation 2 games and, hopefully, a change of underwear and a toothbrush, and I guarantee they'll try to weasel an extra day out of me tomorrow and then I won't see him until Sunday, his 13th Birthday.

How I came to be the mother of a 13-year-old when it was like a second ago that I moved to Arizona as a 13-year-old myself, this I don't know. How my child, who was born a pound and a half 13 years ago ended up as tall as me "and I haven't even gone through my growth spurt yet, Mom," this I don't know either. But it looks like maybe it's time for a little gratitude and a lot of shutting up so that's what I'll do: I'll be grateful and shut up.

Shabbat Shalom.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back from Vacation, plunged into Bar Mitzvah hell

Okay, so now we've found out that we're officially not a cruising family. How did we find this out? By Bar Mitzvahzilla and I spending the first day of our Mexican Cruise vacation at sea nauseous in our beds while the ship rose and fell, rose and fell. Husband and daughter, of course, got their sea legs the instant they got on board. There were other reasons: the lack of freedom to decide what to do each day; the fact that the shipboard activities didn't meet our interests; the kids hanging around all the time when it turned out they hated the Kid's club; the constant nickel and diming of everything the cruiseline could get us to buy, from drinks to photos, to Tanzanite Tanzanite Tanzanite!, to duty free liquor and shore excursions. There was the fact that in both Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, Husband was too cheap to buy shore excursions so we ended up on van rides from hell with drivers who took us like hostages to the jewelry stores which were sponsoring them, there to stand around with the commissioned store clerks looking at overpriced gold and diamonds, sweating in the humid jungle air.

And, although I would never want to incur the wrath of cruising fanatics, I don't quite get the attraction of basically eating at the same restaurant every day for an entire vacation. One of the things I enjoy about vacations is eating interesting new foods, not the same buffet over and over again, or the same stilted, formal dining room meal, with the same rolls, and the same tropical fruit plate, over and over again.

But Cabo San Lucas was unbelievably beautiful. So here's the plan: go to Cabo with husband alone on long weekend getaway for snorkeling and jacuzzi-ing and shopping.

Now that we're back the good news is that the Bar Mitzvah preparation is all moving along at a nice clip. The room arrangement is good. I met with my sister/chocolatier/party planner today and finalized a bunch of stuff, and I received about fifteen more response cards.

The only thing lagging behind is Bar Mitzvahzilla, who cannot write his Bar Mitzvah speech. Tomorrow he spends an hour with his Hebrew Tutor and an hour with the Rabbi. Thursday he spends a half hour with the Cantor; Sunday another hour with the Hebrew Tutor. On Tuesday he spends another half hour with the Cantor, and next Wednesday another hour with the Rabbi. Is this enough support to get this thing written?

I guess what's really disappointing to me is how uninteresting he finds this, the relating of his Torah portion to his life, to his Mitzvah project, to what it means to him to have arrived at this point. Maybe I'm expecting too much, but I'd be really excited to write this. Maybe not if I was thirteen but I like the topic. But this is what I get from him: feet dragging and whining, blank looks and sudden disappearances during which I catch him playing with the light sabers he's dragged out from under his bed and is swishing in the air of his bedroom, or long, suspicious absences in the bathroom reading Star Wars books. No Bar Mitzvah speech.

And I guess what really drives me crazy is that with all that support, all that help, we're still just going to end up with a typical speech where he talks about how archaic the Jewish laws seem instead of saying the unexpected, that they are not archaic, that they apply to his life in a real and practical way, that he just had to look beyond the surface of the words, into the deeper meaning, just as we all have to look beyond the surfaces to the deeper meaning to find how things illuminate our lives.

But unless I write that for him, I'm not going to see it. And if I write it, even if he's never thought those thoughts before, he'll recite those words in front of the congregation, even if he doesn't mean them.