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Nov 24 2014

Why These Jerusalem Mothers are Fighting for Higher Security in Preschools

By at 9:56 am
mothers in jerusalem for safety in preschools

Credit: Office of MK Erel Margalit.

 

I tend to put things out of my head that create anxiety. Often I feel that if I don’t, paralyzing fear would take hold of me all of the time. Anxiety comes with the territory of being parents. There is a moment–during pregnancy or soon after birth–when we realize that now we have something to lose that we absolutely could not bear. Lately I’ve been trying out an alternative to evading worry, at least with regard to the safety of my children: action.

I have lived in Israel for 21 years, having made aliyah with my family at age 14 from Cleveland. In high school, I lived through that awful spate of bus bombings, including my local neighborhood buses, the 14 and the 18. When I was a student at Hebrew University, the Second Intifada exploded and my parents were sick with fear at my traveling by public transportation every day. I was scared, of course, but nothing like the visceral fear that I feel now as a mother.

Snatching my babies out of bed with every siren this past summer and schlepping them half-asleep down the stairs of our building–that was something new for me. If I had been on my own, I would have probably taken the time to find shoes and put on a nice robe before stepping out into the common stairwell. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 20 2014

Why I Talked to My Preschooler About Sexual Abuse

By at 3:59 pm

why i talked to my preschool son about abuse

My middle son told me something the other night that made my stomach twist into a painful knot. He told me that his preschool teacher wasn’t very nice to him, but he hadn’t told me about it before because he knew that I liked her.

This may seem like a little thing. But, it isn’t to me. Until that moment I had been sure that my kids trusted me enough to tell me about the things that are important to them, the things that they are worried about. The fact that he’d gone a whole year holding back his feelings really frightened me.

I asked him a million questions after that. What had she done to make him not like her? Did she mistreat him in any way? Make him feel uncomfortable? Unimportant?    Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 29 2014

Watch: Toddlers Arguing Over the Weather is the Most Adorable Thing Ever

By at 5:00 pm

poked-my-heart

Move over, Apparently Kid.

Three-year-old Ty Willmott, from Sloan, Iowa, won over the internet this week when a friendly preschool tiff over the weather with a pair of twins came to blows. (Happens to the best of us, right?)

In the video, presumably taken by their teacher, the three pint-sized blonds can’t figure out whether it is raining or sprinkling (or, rather, waining or spwinkling?). The boy’s mom told him that it was sprinkling while the twin sisters’ mom had informed them that it was raining. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 24 2014

Rosh Hashanah Confession: I Have a Thing For the Produce Man

By at 10:03 am

produce-isle

Because repentance is serious business in the home stretch leading up to Rosh Hashanah, I’m finally coming clean: For nearly a decade, I’ve had a thing for the produce man at the local supermarket.

Years ago, our then 3-year-old son–a clever, square peg of a boy who has long struggled to fit in–had another challenging morning at nursery school. He decided it was a silly thing to transform an empty orange juice carton into a spice box for Havdalah (ceremony for taking leave of Shabbat). His refusal led to an ugly power struggle with his already-exasperated teacher, ultimately landing him in the penalty box, where he frequently kept the seat warm.

The dreaded call came. I stopped writing and ran to get him, tail between my legs. I listened as the principal meted out judgment, the same harsh words I’d heard in various mutations over the past year. He’s difficult, unlovable, a challenge to manage… In fact, I’d spent so much time in the principal’s office that I’d already derailed my full-time career. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 2 2014

I Cried on the Last Day of Preschool, But Not For the Reasons You Think

By at 4:26 pm

Crying-Preschool

Our son’s last day of Jewish preschool has come and gone, and there are still times I cry, but not for the reasons you may think.

I wasn’t one of those moms posting on Facebook about my son’s first day at preschool and my overflowing tears and anxieties. We took a picture of him outside with his backpack–which was posted on Facebook–and drove on, knowing he was going to have a great time. This mom wasn’t sad or worried, not one bit.

Deciding to send our son to preschool was fueled by a couple of factors: our son’s need for more activity and my history with Postpartum Depression (PPD). We were expecting our second child in the fall, and a difficult pregnancy kept my son home with little opportunity for active play, which he desperately needed. I also felt it was important to prepare for the possibility I may experience PPD again; being proactive was important to me. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 24 2014

My Daughter Wants to Go to School…Yesterday

By at 4:15 pm

Ready-for-school

My 3-year-old daughter has been bursting out of her skin to get to school. This past September, when we were getting ready for the son’s upcoming school year, my son got a new backpack. So she wanted a new backpack. She watched him scooting the 20 minutes to and from school while she rode in the stroller behind and started talking about getting a scooter, too. Over the winter, she found one on the playground and practiced scooting on it, even taking her backpack with her to the playground so she could pretend going to school. She would even stop somewhere to “cross the street” while holding my hand. She started wearing her backpack everywhere she could.

We hadn’t put her in the 2’s program in the fall mostly due to logistics; it was half a day and we lived just far away enough that we would have spent our entire days running back and forth from the school. Instead, I had her most mornings. I felt awful when I watched her longingly staring into her brother’s classroom, trying to procrastinate leaving. Over the course of the year, she inched up her presence into his classroom more and more. She endeared herself to his teachers so they were giving her snacks at pick-up regularly. In the morning, she was occasionally asked if she wanted to help put the schedule up. When the family came into school for birthday parties and holidays, she sang and danced with the kids, even though she didn’t know the word or the movements and she sat right at the table with the rest of the kids. For the class’ final puppet performance, she went to sit with them rather than sit in the audience. She even talked about making goodbye cards for the teachers.

Her social life didn’t help. All the kids her age were either in programs or so filled up on classes that playdates were a nearly impossible exercise in Tetris. She had been in a music class for almost a year which she loved. She was bursting with confidence and joy to see friends and sing. However, after the summer, the average age in the class dropped significantly. She had few peers available on a regular basis and she wasn’t being challenged. My guilt increased significantly every time she asked for a playdate with a friend who was busy at school or another class.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 20 2014

How Can I Help My Son Adjust to a New City?

By at 1:32 pm

new-home

It is one of those mornings. Sam woke up early and now he is in my bed, snuggled as close as possible, twirling my hair around his fingers. His breath is warm on my cheek and his long limbs are wrapped around me. “I don’t want to go to school, Mama. I don’t like my new school. Nobody loves me there. And the toys are boring,” he says.

I turn to him and hold him close, trying to find the right words to comfort him. It is not easy.

My little guy is having a hard time. To be honest, we are all having a hard time, but Sam is the one who is new to this world of changes and challenges. We just moved to a new city and he started attending a new preschool. We are away from family, from the familiar, from the routine. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 16 2014

Saying Goodbye To Mondays With My Daughter

By at 10:04 am

bouncy-house

Sometimes we did nothing but go to Target or run an errand. Other times we had play dates, bounced around a trampoline playground, met Daddy for lunch and a carousel ride at the mall, or went to a PJ Library event at the local library. Whatever we did, we did it on Mondays for the past two years. June 10 was our last Monday together.

My daughter finished her time in the mixed 3s and 4s class at preschool on Thursday. It met Tuesday through Friday. She starts camp five days a week next Monday. In the fall, her pre-K class will meet each weekday, too.

A few weeks ago, my husband said, “You have only eight more Mondays with Ellie at home.” And that kicked off Operation Monday Madness. His statement hit me like the clichéd ton of bricks. My little girl would be away all week forever after. I wanted to make the last few Mondays we had together memorable. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 3 2014

Don’t Mind the Swastikas at Preschool

By at 1:45 pm

swastika-preschool

What if I told you that my daughter’s preschool was covered in graffiti yesterday and I dropped her off anyway? Would you think I was a bad mom?

How about if I told you that what was scrawled on the school wasn’t obscenities or amateur art, but angry dark swastikas… and I still dropped her off? Are you judging me now?

How about if I said that we are the only Jewish family that goes to that preschool and I STILL dropped her off? Are you shocked yet? Read the rest of this entry →

May 28 2014

The Last Day of Preschool: The End of an Era

By at 10:09 am
last-day-of-preschool

Photo credit: Ellen Bortz

 

A few years ago I was that nursery school mom with a son in the 3’s class, a daughter in the 2’s class, and a new baby, born seven weeks into the school year. Whether that was a well-thought out plan or not didn’t really occur to me in those early years; it just was. I saw those other moms whose last child was going through nursery school and although logically I knew that they must have done this dance with their older ones as well, it was pretty impossible to imagine. Yet now, I have the luxury of walking my youngest daughter–my 5-year-old–to her pre-K class without carrying a crying baby, pushing a stroller, or feeling nauseous from morning sickness. Now I watch the other moms drop off their preschooler and come outside still holding another child (or two) and I’m sure they can’t imagine a day when they’ll walk out that door alone.

And now we approach the end of an era in my family. My children have spent a combined 10 years at one Jewish nursery school–as a family, we’ve been there for seven consecutive years. We’re not particularly unique, we haven’t set any kind of record, lots of families have come and gone. But for our family (or maybe just me!) it certainly feels like a milestone. At the very least, a time to take pause and appreciate what’s gone by.

Nobody in our house spits up anymore. Our days of diapers, sippy cups, pacifiers, strollers, and cribs are gone. Nobody says “baby suit” when she means “bathing suit.” Nobody tells us that “Purple Barney” is his favorite color, or says they “bless you’d” when what they did was sneezed. There’s no one left here who believes “tilapia chicken” isn’t fish. No more rear-facing car seats, or high chairs, or boosters, or even those cute plastic sectioned-off plates. Baby gates, infant tubs, pack-and-plays, and swaddle blankets are all a distant memory. Read the rest of this entry →

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