Mar 19 2014
I see that sheet of paper every time I drop the girls off at preschool. There’s a green one in my older daughter’s classroom and a yellow one in my younger daughter’s. Each page has three columns: one for your name, one for the date, and one for the color of Play-Doh you’re going to make for the entire preschool class.
In almost three years of sending my girls to this preschool, which I absolutely adore, I have never once signed up to make Play-Doh. There is just nothing appealing about it to me, and besides, there is no question that I would screw it up. (Don’t tell me how easy it is; I can burn water, people.) I try to compensate in other ways–I volunteer for various tasks that don’t require me to go into (or even near) my kitchen, and I read stories and do crafts for Hanukkah and Passover. I know the school has enough Play-Doh (or at least I think they do), and I know that I am contributing in other ways, but I just can’t seem to shake the guilt I feel over all of it.
A few weeks ago, I Facebooked a picture of my daughters at home, cutting multi-colored lumps of Play-Doh into a million little pieces. My dear friend and fellow Kveller Tamara Reese left the following comment: Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 18 2014
There’s a preschool at one of the local temples that the parents just rave about. In fact, my husband and I recently started attending the temple’s monthly Tot Shabbat programs with our 2-year-old, and we’ve already gotten a taste of just how much these little children are picking up. Some of the older ones can recite blessings and know several prayers by heart. And even the younger ones know that you’re supposed to do things like cover your eyes when it’s time to say the Shema.
This preschool sounds really, really great. It’s exactly the kind of place I’d like to send my son. Unfortunately, that’s not an option. Like most preschools, this one only offers programming for about three hours a day, and when you’re a family like ours, where both parents work full-time, three hours of coverage just won’t cut it. So now it’s up to me and my husband to attempt to compensate by introducing our toddler to the traditions I so desperately want him to love and appreciate, but I worry that my sporadic incorporation of Judaism into our hectic, over-scheduled lives just isn’t going to be enough in the long run. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 13 2014
“I want you to have roots and wings,” my mother used to say to me from as early as I can remember until the day she died. And I think of this during preschool drop-off on cool mornings when the sun slants softly through my 5.5-year-old daughter’s curls.
“Honey, do you want to go in without me? We can do our hug and kiss goodbye out here if you want.”
And some of the other kids go in alone without their parents: This is the beauty of the community we live in–the Middle East’s answer to Mayberry, USA, where every child is everyone’s child, and we all live and love and learn together even when it ain’t easy. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 24 2014
It began, as so many things do these days, with a nudge that turned into a whine. Ima. Eeeeeemmmmaaaaa. When are you going to charge my camera for me?
Orli, my older daughter, has her own camera, a small Fisher Price deal that takes relatively fuzzy pictures–especially given how crisp digital images are these days–unless the light is absolutely perfect. I thought buying it was a mistake.“Why are we giving her a camera that doesn’t even work well?” I wondered, at the time.
It was late last spring, and Orli was in that strange space pre-school age children get into when they are anticipating a sibling they desperately want, and yet, on some level, understand will upend their lives. She wanted a camera. Very, very much. And so we got her this guy, with its sturdy, drop-me-I’ll-be-fine thick plastic walls. It is pink and white. I hated it. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 19 2014
It was a day I will never forget. Last week, I was at work when I received a call from my daughter’s preschool. I was told that she is fine but she is saying she is very tired and is lying on the couch sucking her fingers (her go-to when nervous or tired). I said I would be right over. Since I work next door to the JCC where she attends, it makes it convenient.
I went over and sat to talk with her asking if anything hurt. She said “no.” I asked her if she wanted to go to dance class and she said “no.” Now I knew something was up, as she loves her dance class and dressing in her leotard and tutu. I asked if she wanted to go home and she said “yes.”
Once we were home and settled I felt and kissed her forehead but she felt cool. We had lunch and she ate heartily. We started watching the movie “Cars” and I turned to her and asked her if she was not only tired but was she missing mommy. I knew the response before she said it. She said “yes, I missed you.” Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 3 2014
All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.
– Dylan Farrow, adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, published an open letter in the New York Times, claiming she was sexually abused by Allen when she was 7. Meanwhile, Allen’s documentarian highlights some inconsistencies in this now decades-long case. So what are we to make of all this? Elissa Strauss writes for The Sisterhood that it’s OK to be ambivalent. (Forward)
– The abortion rate in the United States is at its lowest point since 1973, when the supreme court legalized the procedure in all 50 states. No conclusive evidence yet as to why, but many are linking the drop to the availability of new, long-acting contraceptive methods. (Washington Post)
– Another newborn has contracted neonatal genital herpes from metzitzah b’peh, a controversial circumcision rite in which the mohel places his mouth directly on the circumcision wound in order to draw blood. The practice is not used in most Jewish circumcision ceremonies, but many in the haredi Orthodox community still adhere to the rite. (JTA)
– Preschool is totally trending right now, with more and more states from both sides of the political divide making a serious push for government-funded preschool. (NY Times)
Jan 27 2014
When my husband and I met, he was Jewish. I was an absentee Catholic. Very early on, we agreed that we both wanted kids, and that they would be raised Jewish. At the time, I didn’t fully grasp what that meant.
Over the course of the next few years, I learned about Jewish traditions and culture. We had as Jewish of a wedding as a Jew and a non-Jew can have. When our son came along, my husband searched the Bay Area for a mohel who would ritually circumcise Sam. Since I was not Jewish and so neither was Sam, this was not an easy task. Finally, we found one and our son had his bris at home on his eighth day of life.
Sometime in the following few years, I decided to convert. My year of studying with the rabbi was one of the most important of my life. The rabbi said, “You’ll know you’re ready when you stop thinking of Jews as ‘them’ and think of it as ‘us’.” My studies, attending shul, searching my soul, and my time speaking with the rabbis gradually, over time, transformed me into a Jew. When the scheduler called with my date for the mikveh, I was as excited as I was about scheduling my wedding day. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 21 2014
I had always envisioned my children growing up feeling the sense of “Jewishness” that was so special to me in my own childhood, so we started our son at a Jewish preschool at the age of 2.
But it quickly became clear that he simply couldn’t function in a classroom and was getting nothing out of school. Our journey, which eventually led to an autism spectrum diagnosis, brought with it a roller coaster of emotions and never-ending to-do lists, and dealing with all of that required me to push aside my disappointment about giving up his Jewish preschool. It had become obvious that we had to send him to a special education program to provide the hours of intensive therapy he needed. So without so much as a glance back we forged ahead on this path, and amazingly after two years he had progressed so far that he was almost unrecognizable from the 2-year-old he was before it all started.
We found ourselves at the beginning of this current school year, his last year of preschool, with some decisions to make. The special education preschool program in our new school district, as remarkable as it is, did not provide enough hours of school for him with only four short afternoons a week. We knew we should consider a mainstream preschool as a supplement to his special needs program. He would benefit socially from being around “typical” peers, but we couldn’t help but wonder if he was really ready for it. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 12 2013
The Northern California air is crisp and biting as I unbuckle my son from his car seat and slide his arms into his Spiderman sweatshirt.
“Stand right here by me and don’t move,” I warn him, reaching back in to hoist the baby’s car seat up into the air. I keep one hand on Max as the other clicks the baby seat into the stroller. Lunchbox. Water bottle. Mitzvah Star. Five dollars for challah. Baby’s blanket is on. Where is his hat?
“Stay right here, Max, there are too many cars in this parking lot. Wait for Mommy. Hold on to Bennie’s stroller please.” A wadded up diaper rolls out of the passenger seat as I grab my diaper bag. I stuff it back in before anyone notices.
“Good morning, Simon Family! Hi Max! Or should I call you Spiderman? That’s a pretty cool sweatshirt you’ve got on!”
He beams. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 22 2013
My wife and I often talk about how fascinating it would be to be flies on the wall at our daughter’s Jewish preschool. It’s the ultimate parent fantasy–to see how your children behave when you’re out of sight. At home, we take delight in those few moments when our 3-year-old daughter cozies up in a corner of our apartment reading to herself; creating a story with toy figures or stuffed animals, unaware as we watch from a doorway.
As parents, we see our children in all of their many phases and moods.
And it is precisely because we are their parents that they feel
comfortable enough to scream and tantrum and test us in many ways
as they learn life’s boundaries and the limits of their autonomy
during childhood. But then (as if it’s a minor miracle) there are
those moments when our children are so sweet, inquisitive,
insightful, or loving, and I’m pretty sure this is how my daughter
behaves most of the day at preschool.
So, I want to take kvelling to the next level.
Imagine if I could be reduced to my daughter’s size and attend
preschool with her.
What fun I could have filling my days with coloring, painting, and
sculpting clay next to my daughter. We could build with blocks, read
wonderful books for the first time, and make first friends. There’s
also this thing called naptime. NAP TIME. Did you hear that? I need
more of that in my life.
Read the rest of this entry →