I don’t know about you, but most of the time when my kids are talking to me, I am not fully listening. “Aha” and “Oh that’s great!” roll off of my lips as I glance in their general direction while I am cutting a cucumber, finding a lost shoe or wondering why there is still not a match for that pink sock. Sometimes my kids notice this lack of attention and scold me by saying, “eyes on mine,” to be sure that my limited attention will find its way to them. But with three kids, managing our home and my work, there’s a lot to keep me distracted.
Our recent move to Israel has helped me slow down and focus more because what they need me to focus on is becoming more pressing than “look at this cool Lego thing I built.” In their way, they are processing what it means to have left the place where they felt at ease, to join a new culture as an immigrant. “I just don’t know what’s going on,” my son laments, because his first grade teacher in Jerusalem doesn’t speak to him in English. And my 3-year-old pines, “when am I going to have a playdate with my friends from my old school?” The ninth of never, I don’t reply. “Everyone here has black eyes,” my daughter continues, talking about the mizrachi (Jews who are eastern or oriental in origin) children in her gan (nursery school), who are very different from the blue or green-eyed classmates in Sag Harbor. Read the rest of this entry →