Nov 24 2014
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 →
Nov 18 2014
When my two youngest children decided they were ready to embrace the internet experience like their older siblings and friends, I panicked. Even a 53-year-old seasoned parent like me gets panicky sometimes. So I said no, which was of course totally thoughtless and unoriginal, especially to a 12-year-old. But I said it to buy time.
Recently, my daughter’s classmate came to school with an announcement. She was getting an iPhone because she had proven she was old enough to handle it. “My dad said if I can fast the whole day on Yom Kippur like an adult, then I can have an iPhone like an adult. So I did and he added me on to his plan.” Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 7 2014
We know the rule: picking up hitchhikers is bad. It’s been drilled into our heads from a young age, along with other stranger-danger situations and how to avoid them. Parents and educators teach children to be wary of strangers, and try to impart a survival savvy that they hope will never be needed. And in addition to the parental and school warnings are the many movies and TV shows that reinforce these concepts. We know that when a scene features a naïve driver picking up a hitchhiker, it will not end well for someone. Needless to say, we’ve been warned.
So then, what possessed me to pull over for a hitchhiker on my way to work?
I rolled my window down, and there she was: a woman with salt and pepper colored hair, a brown cardigan, and orthopedic shoes. She was at least 75 years old, and seemed to be in distress. She explained that she’d missed her bus, and was going to be late for an important doctor’s appointment. She told me the address of her doctor, which was coincidentally near my office, and she asked for a ride. What else could I do? I told her to get in. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 11 2014
Back when I was pregnant, I had many preconceived notions about the type of parent I’d be and the things I would and would not tolerate. But now that I’ve been a parent for over two and a half years, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to let go of those thoughts, plans, and ideas, and instead adapt to your circumstances. Case in point: There are three things in particular I always said I’d never let my toddler do–but now he does:
1. Drink Juice.
As an avid baker and self-proclaimed sweet tooth, I believe in letting my toddler indulge in moderation. But to me, juice is just a waste of sugar. At playdates, I’d politely decline when parents offered juice as an option. And at daycare, I gave my son’s teacher strict instructions to provide him with water instead of juice at snack time. But one day at pick up, she informed me that my son had gotten very upset when he realized he was the only child at the table with water instead of juice. I thought about it and realized that causing my son to feel left out was far more detrimental to his wellbeing than the small amount of sugar the daycare’s watered-down kiddie juice cups contained. I still do my best to avoid serving him juice, especially if we’re home or in a controlled environment. But if we’re in a situation where he actively requests it, I don’t automatically say no. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 9 2014
I have watched the stream of first-day-of-school photos flood social media these last couple of weeks, and all these beautiful, shiny children, smiling with carefully chosen too-large-to-fail backpacks have made me look forward to my son starting school next year.
To me, the defining moment of my son’s first day of school will be when I watch him get on the bus and wave goodbye until the bus turns the corner. Until a few days ago, my biggest qualm about him getting on the bus was that I didn’t know how I could put on a brave face when all I will probably want to do is cry.
But when the bus horror stories started popping up in my newsfeed, I started to have a lot more second thoughts about putting him on the bus. The anecdotes I heard from mothers I personally know include: Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 8 2014
I saw a hitchhiker this morning. It was a woman. She looked like she was in her mid-40s. Scraggly, blond hair, a tiny butterfly tattooed on her neck, a defeated look in her gray eyes.
My first instinct was to pick her up. In fact, I slowed down and pulled up so close that she slung her grungy backpack over her shoulder and started to move towards our car. The lines by her mouth rippled out into a tight lipped smile.
“Who is that, Mama?” Evi strained to get a better view. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 11 2014
It’s safe to say that security blankets have taken on a new meaning. Meet the Bodyguard Blanket, the latest bulletproof product on the market to protect children in schools from increasingly tragic events like school shootings and natural disasters.
Created by Oklahoma company ProTecht, the $1000 bulletproof blanket is designed to withstand being punctured by debris falling at 200 mph and protects against “90% of all weapons that have been used in school shootings in the United States.”
Gun-control lobby groups say there were at least 44 school shootings in the U.S. between December 2012 and February 10th, 2014—that’s an average of about three per month. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 15 2013
My dad and his wife are coming to visit this weekend. In addition to the various conversations we’ve had about his travel plans and restaurants preferences, there was one more logistical issue I had to address.
I had to tell them to leave their guns at home.
My father and step-mother both carry guns with them on a regular basis. They are fully licensed to do so, and they have both undergone extensive training and practice in the use and maintenance of firearms. Even so, I’m not comfortable with guns in my home. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 21 2013
My little guy, safe in his car seat and not alone.
I have dozens of childhood memories that include me and my siblings waiting in the car for our parents. Most notably, I remember us waiting at the bank and my little brother, probably preschool age, backing the car into an adjacent lot. The story is told in jest now, and my mother was most definitely a helicopter parent of her time. That’s just how it was.
But it’s 2013 and we use car seats and bike helmets and you can’t leave your kids in the car anymore. There is no “running in” anywhere and even going to the bank to deposit a check is a full blown ordeal.
I ran errands one day last week and pulled my two kids in and out of the car no less than 15 times before noon. It was 80 degrees outside and I was taking our cat to the groomer. Here I am holding a 20-pound infant who is diving out of my arms with a cat carrier in one hand and attempting to wrangle a bolting preschooler with the other. Add the diaper bag and I’m a walking circus. Once I finally got everyone loaded into the car I realized that I forgot the checkbook and the grooming salon ONLY TAKES CHECKS. Read the rest of this entry →
May 30 2013
I am a champion worrier, and I do not limit my worrying to the logical or the likely. I worry about there not being enough food at Shabbat dinner, and about stranger danger. I worry about my step-daughter refusing to eat vegetables and becoming anemic, and about animals escaping the zoo. But these days, I spend most of my time worrying about two big, terrifying environmental dangers: flame retardants in furniture, and fracking. Read the rest of this entry →