Wednesday, November 30, 2005

leaps and bounds

For the last month or so, Barak has been repeating, or trying to repeat, just about anything I try to get him to say, in English, Hungarian or Hebrew. If I say, "Can you say 'truck'?" he'll say, "chuck!" If I say, "Azt tudod mondoni hogy 'alma'?" he'll say, "awa!" He'll also say words he knows with a little prompting--for example, if I give him something hot to eat and say, "Be careful, it's hot!" he'll say "Hot!" and blow on it. If I ask him if he wants a banana, he'll say "nana!" And so on.

Today, though, for the first time, he said an appropriate word on his own. We went to get pizza at the pizza shop--something we do maybe every week or two. I put him in his high chair when the pizza was ready, then asked him to wait while I put the (hot) pizza on the table. I handed him his plate, started cutting, and heard him saying, meditatively, "Hot. Hot. Whooo!"

After we had our pizza, we went and ran a few of our usual errands: the fruit and vegetable shop (celery, carrots, potatoes, broccoli and cream cheese); the drugstore (diapers); the bakery (bread and bagels); and the kosher grocery (chicken, fish sticks, rolls, yogurt, pickles, cheese, tomato sauce, carrot juice and whatever else I don't remember). It's cold where we live and he's very bundled in the stroller, and by the last errand he had sort of had it. He wasn't fussing, exactly, but he was looking pretty bored. On our way out the door, I heard him say, hopefully, "Ohm? Ohm?" What, is he meditating? Then it hit me. "Do you want to go home?" "Yeah!"

And home we went.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

There's that pesky question again.

This past Shabbos, we hosted a family consisting of an intermarried couple (Jewish mother, non-Jewish father) and their five kids. They are interested in becoming more observant, and wanted to try the full Shabbos experience. We didn't really know them--she is the daughter of someone I work with and know only casually--but we're into kiruv and so we invited them, all seven of them, to stay with us for Shabbos.

It wasn't a total wash, although the parents summarily piled four of the five into their minivan at 9 am on Saturday because the kids were just too off the wall with no TV. Their daughter, who is eleven and a delight, decided to stay, and we had a nice morning with the two of us and Barak. There was an aufruf at a nearby shul that we decided to go to, and she was shocked and delighted to discover that the bag of candy she was handed upon entry was supposed to be HURLED ACROSS THE SHUL DIRECTLY AT THE GUY READING FROM THE TORAH. ("I'm supposed to throw it?" she asked incredulously. "Not just allowed, but we're supposed to throw candy in temple?" Yep.) We came home, put Barak down for his nap, read Harry Potter companionably on the couch for an hour or so, ate lunch, ate brownies, went to a friend's, ate more brownies, and it was time for Havdala. She wants to come back, and it's fine with us.

Friday night (backing up a little), after the kids had gone to bed, the four adults sat in the kitchen talking. It's always a little odd having non-religious Jews or non-Jews in the house on Shabbos--not in a bad way, but there are so many things that we take for granted that they just didn't know. They got the "don't touch the lights" business, and I taped the switches just to be safe. But I wasn't quite expecting to be asked, innocently, in front of two grown men, "Do you go to the mikva?" Ummm. Can we talk about that later?

She also asked me a question that I haven't heard in a long time, just because most of the people I know these days either have known me for years, are religious Jews, or don't know that I was ever anything but a religious Jew. She asked, "What made you decide to become religious?"

I always find it strange that so many people feel so free to ask me that question. To me, it's so personal--something like asking "What did you find so attractive about your husband that you decided to marry him?" It's not something that I would ever ask a stranger or even a casual acquaintance. Actually, I wouldn't ask it of anybody. But I've been asked it a lot, over the last ten years or so.

The short answer is, "It just happened." For me, there was never any real deciding involved. It was like taking off a pair of too-tight heels and sliding your abused feet into slippers. What made you decide to take off the shoes? Your feet hurt--it didn't take a lot of thought. Or being hungry, and eating. What made you decide to eat? Um, hunger. You didn't sit and think, hmm, I'm hungry, what should I do about this? You saw the thing you needed, and never thought twice.

The years that I spent being an atheist were more of a reaction to what I saw of religion (and the lack thereof) growing up. A lot of hypocrisy, a lot of treating other people badly, a lot of all kinds of things I was told we weren't supposed to do. I hated it. I poked my nose into a few different religions, and never found anything that felt right. This was in my late teens or somewhere around there. By the time I got to college, I had decided that organized religion was not much more than a good means of social control, and ditched the whole idea.

But, well, that never really felt right either. And so, over the course of a number of years, I found myself moving back to Yiddishkeit, from reform to conservative to orthodox shuls, and eventually to where I am now, in a community full of men in black hats and women who wear long sleeves and stockings in August. And it's the happiest and most comfortable I've ever been.

There are lots of perfectly good religions out there--for other people. But I'm a Jew, and being anything other than a Jew who tries just didn't feel right. I've been accused of using religion as a "crutch," which is something that orthodox Jews pretty much roll their eyes at, because of the total lack of understanding it demonstrates. Being a religious Jew makes life so much more of a challenge. It doesn't make your life any easier. It forces you to think. It forces you to work at being a better person. It forces you to keep God front and center in everything you do. For me, that makes life so much more worthwhile.

For me, this was a way of life that just fit. I liked the values. I liked the sense of community. I liked the fact that the guys I met on dates didn't even consider laying a hand on me, and that nobody thought I was freakish for not having or wanting a TV, and that the families I met were, overwhelmingly if not without exception, happy, close, and loving. I got a look inside that world, a world of people who were an awful lot like what I wanted to be, and I thought, "Why do I need to look for anything else? This is me. This is who I am. This is what I'm supposed to be."

No, it hasn't all been easy or without compromises. My own family was, to put it mildly, not happy with the way I moved religiously, and that was (and remains) hard. It isn't easy to not be able to eat in the homes of my non-Jewish friends, especially when I've traveled a long way to see them and the last thing I want is to hurt anyone's feelings. And I know that my boss, who is fabulous in pretty much all respects, thinks that I'm oppressed, and that grates. But it's never even crossed my mind to wonder if I made the right choice. I never even thought to wonder what my life would be like if I'd chosen differently. Because I don't think I ever chose at all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Let's clarify a few things, shall we?

So, last week sometime, I couldn't sleep. I think Barak woke me up at some point in the very early morning and instead of going back to bed, I just got dressed and went to do some predawn blog reading. I was reading through the archives of a blog I like very much and haven't been reading for that long, and the writer of this blog linked to another blog, and so I started reading that.

Right away, I liked the person who wrote blog #2. She just sounded like someone I would get along with. Same ideas on parenting, same ideas on social justice, same ideas on what's important and what's not, that kind of thing. Similar priorities. I read along for a while, enjoying, and then got to a post that said, "Shana tova! It's Rosh Hashana, so I won't be posting tomorrow." Oh, okay--so, she's Jewish, but not very religious. Traditionally, and according to halacha (Jewish law) Rosh Hashana is two days, but a lot of people only "keep" one. Fine.

I kept reading. And saw another post, about how happy she felt with her kid in shul, knowing that her child would grow up comfortable with those songs, knowing Hebrew, etc. Happy that her kid would grow up knowing that he was a Jew. Nothing amiss here, is there? Nope.

Until I got to the post about how she used to celebrate Christmas. And how her siblings celebrate Christmas. And how her husband, who isn't Jewish, and mother, who isn't Jewish, and her father, who is unaffiliated, celebrate Christmas. And then another post about baking cookies for an oneg at shul. And then about how her own family had just bought a Christmas tree, that she was excited about decorating, and planning for the holidays (meaning, Christmas and New Year's), baking cookies, the rest of it. You know, making the holidays nice for her kids, who are going to grow up identifying as Jews.


Please don't misunderstand. I am not the kind of Jew that feels that Torah Judaism is the only kind that has a right to exist under any circumstances. I don't condemn the existence of other streams of Judaism, even though I don't agree with many of their tenets--my feeling is that living according to halacha is hard, and it's better for people to at least stay Jewish so their kids will have a better chance of making tshuva (coming back) than they would if their parents gave up and started going to church. And while I'm not a big fan of mixed marriages, obviously, I think it makes a lot more sense to not be hostile to non-Jewish partners, because that's just dumb. Especially if there are Jewish kids involved. What do you accomplish? You alienate the other parent from Judaism, you give the kids a bad impression of Judaism, you make it highly unlikely that the non-Jewish parent will even think about converting, and highly unlikely that the kids will continue to identify as Jews. Nobody wins here. So I also understand that there are homes in which both Christian and Jewish holidays are celebrated, and while I don't think it's a good idea, I acknowledge that there are many worse alternatives.

Let's be clear. I value other streams of Judaism inasmuch as they succeed in keeping Jews identified as Jews and close to Torah. I don't agree with anyone who says it isn't necessary to keep kosher, Shabbos, or taharas hamishpacha to be a good Jew. I definitely don't have any time for anyone who tries to legitimize the idea that the Torah is somehow a sideline to Judaism. It's not. Keeping Torah is hard, but it's a fundamental part of being a good Jew. Nobody gets it perfectly right, but the essence of being a Jew is... trying.

And this is why I found this blog so... confusing. This person is not Jewish according to halacha. She has no obligation to keep mitzvos, and in fact she doesn't keep them. So far, pretty not Jewish to me. Moreover, she doesn't believe, even in principle, in keeping kosher or taharas hamishpacha. She doesn't keep Shabbos, although it's marked in her home by Friday night being "game night" (a special meal with challah and grape juice was too much work for every week.) Her husband isn't Jewish. Her kids aren't Jewish. Nobody in her home has any obligation to keep the commandments, and they're not keeping them. Nobody in her home has even gone so far as to reject other gods, which, as you may know, is the single biggie in Judaism--you don't acknowledge, pray to, or celebrate any god other than God. So Jesus, Buddha, and the entire Hindu pantheon are, um, out. Entirely.

So what, exactly, is the point here?

One of the things that drew me to the traditional observance of Judaism to begin with was the observation that here, finally, was a worldview that did not even begin to say, "If you're not one of us, you're going to hell." Far from it. In fact, it's one heck of a lot easier to get everything right if you are not--repeat, not--Jewish. Seven commandments instead of six hundred and thirteen. Wear what you want, go to ballgames on Saturday, put all your dishes in the same dishwasher at the same time, have your birthday party at McDonald's. It's all good. You don't lose your olam ha'ba. There is no impetus for non-Jews to convert to Judaism--quite the opposite. It's considered an admirable, but pretty nutty, thing to do.

Everybody who isn't a Jew is a ben Noach--literally, a child of Noah. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING A BEN NOACH. If you love Judaism, but don't want to deal with Shabbos every week, it is perfectly fine with everybody, including God. Go learn about the seven laws for b'nai Noach. They're not hard. You can still have game night. You can still have your Christmas tree. You can still make treats for oneg if you want.

Please, my friend, if you love Judaism like you say you do, please just enjoy being a bas Noach. If you don't believe in the Torah, don't think mitzvos matter, and don't think they count in God's eyes, then what exactly are you accomplishing by telling yourself and your children that you and they are Jews? You are not glorifying God. You are not striking a blow for Yiddishkeit. And you're not raising your kids with a healthy Jewish identity either. It is in every way better to live a life without Torah as a bas Noach, for whom this is entirely permissible, than to take on a Jewish identity only to dismiss everything it is to be a Jew.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Three Best Decisions I Ever Made (in chronological order)

1. Quitting grad school.
2. Marrying MHH.
3. Setting aside my pride, rewriting our household budget, and handing in my membership in the proletariat to hire someone to come clean our house on Wednesday afternoons.

The difference is unbelievable. It wasn't filthy before, but it was... not really clean. I kept feeling that, geez, I work part-time--I SHOULD be able to keep the house clean. But it never really happened. Even though I get home at two, I'm chasing Barak until a little after seven. MHH doesn't get home until after six, so once Barak's asleep, I start dinner. Then we eat. Then I wash up and fold some laundry. Then I probably have something to do for work. Then I probably want to check my email, or the phone rings, and I still have to make lunches for the next day. Then it's 10:30 pm, and I am not in any mood to start scrubbing bathtubs. So, after a few months of this, there was starting to be a thin but definite layer of grime in too many parts of the apartment. And meanwhile...

I made a couple of Romanian/Hungarian friends on the bus. This was months ago already. One was an older lady who hit it off with Barak, back when he took the bus with me. She didn't speak English, and I only heard her speak Romanian to her friend, so I didn't try Hungarian with her. But she heard me speak Hungarian to Barak, and it turned out that her mother was Hungarian (there is a sizeable Hungarian-speaking minority in Romania, stranded there when they moved the borders after WWI) and she still spoke some Hungarian. Her seatmate on the bus also spoke Hungarian, quite a lot better since both her parents were Hungarian. Both of them were doing the Romanian thing of coming to America on a tourist visa, working as much as humanly possible, sending home as much money as humanly possible, and then going back. Both were... cleaning houses.

So, a few months ago, the older lady went back to Romania, and the younger lady started sitting with me on the bus. And two weeks ago, she asked me if I knew anyone who wanted their house cleaned on Wednesday afternoons. I consulted with MHH. And last week, Barak got to hear two adults speaking Hungarian at length for the first time since he was six months old. I speak it to him sometimes, but he only uses two words of Hungarian spontaneously, and one of them is "pickle." But after only two hours of listening to the two of us, he stopped registering objections with his customary "no!" and started instead saying, "nem!" Oh, and both our bathrooms and our kitchen were shiny and clean, and all the wool floors had been--get this--waxed. I've never waxed a floor in my life.

I guess I'm officially bourgeois now. But at least my bathrooms smell good.

Monday, November 14, 2005

and in the meantime

I never had tremendous confidence in my ability to be a good mother, even long before I thought I would ever be one. My relationship with my own mother was always, shall we say, a bit fraught, and I am always worried that I'm not quite getting it right and Barak will, um, grow up to hate me.

So, on that cheery and clearly very emotionally healthy note, let me say that it gives me a lot of satisfaction when I manage to do something that is, in my book anyway, a tiny little piece of Good Mothering. It makes me happy, for example, to see Barak clean and sweet-smelling out of the bathtub, ready for a cuddle and bed. It made me happy to nurse him for as long as he wanted to nurse. It makes me happy to watch him eat a well-balanced dinner of food that I cooked, accompanied by a cup of organic milk. And it makes me happy to knit for him.

It took me until November, but I finally made him mittens last night. They are orange, fit him perfectly (look ma, no pattern!), and surprise!--he loves them. I thought he would instantly fling them off in a fit of toddler indignation, because he usually hates anything getting between his fingers and the universe that awaits exploration. But he thought they were really cool. I put them on him today, when Abba was home early (no school today) and we all went out for a late lunch. We put on mittens, and then he got his mittens. Hoo boy! He giggled, he admired them, he waved at everybody, he checked them out at length in the stroller. He saw that I was also wearing orange mittens, and I think this pleased him even more. And as a bonus he even kept on his hat, which I also made, out of an odd ball of something very luxurious that I got from Webs a while back. He doesn't usually like hats, but he saw that Abba was wearing one, and I was wearing one (obviously) so he figured it must be okay.

And it took me a year and a half, but I finally finished his blanket today. It's made out of scraps, thirty squares of two colors each, knitted together and bordered. And get this--he likes it! I thought it would be immediately rejected in favor of his beloved yellow fuzzy blanket sent to him by his Savta, but no. He went to bed cuddling his yellow fuzzy, but contentedly tucked in under his new woolly one. All warm and sleepy.

Mmm. Sleepy. I think I'll go to sleep, too.

oh, and by the way...

I just wanted to add that #2 below was not designed to brag about somebody liking something I wrote. It was designed to demonstrate how a truly nice and gracious person behaves when they like something someone else wrote for them. I am particularly appreciative of this kind of thing, having worked for a number of serious nut cases and a number of people who are Far Too Important to Ever Say Thank You (except in thank you notes, written by me, to people who gave their institutions millions of dollars). In the job I had before this one, I got ONE nice comment from ONE of the three people I wrote for. I tacked it up on my cube wall. For the rest, if you never got things sent back with changes, you knew you were in the clear. But a thank you--no, that really isn't considered necessary. That's why I was so floored.

Well, anyway.

I do have something to blog about today, but I need to mull it over a little more first. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

news and updates

A few things that bear posting about...

1. Barak stopped nursing last week. He's well into his nineteenth month, and has been tapering off for a while. He's only been nursing in the morning since midsummer, and for less and less time. Last week, when he got up, I asked him if he wanted to nurse, and he said "No," and walked away to check out a toy. "You're sure? You really don't want to nurse?" I asked, and I picked him up and put him in my lap, just to check. He said no, slid off, and started playing with his toys. I asked again the next day, and the next, and he just wasn't interested.

So I guess he's done. I thought I'd be sad about this, and I am, a little, but not really. I enjoyed nursing, and the closeness, but really I'm just happy that he nursed this long and stopped of his own will. Especially since he had such a hard time getting started (with a stint in the NICU and a pacifier shoved in his mouth before he got a chance to try out what was supposed to go in there). When he was four days old, the nurse practitioner, a pox upon her, told me FOUR TIMES that my baby was "flunking Nursing 101." Well, he's now graduated with a doctorate in nursing, thank you very much. I pumped for him until he was one, and he nursed all he wanted besides that, and stopped when he was ready, so really I'm just pleased by the way it all turned out--maybe it's silly, but I feel like I got one part of mothering, at least, the way I wanted to.

2. Like I said a few months ago, I'm the speechwriter for, mostly, the president of a large NGO. We have a new president, so we've been getting used to each other, but it's been going well, I think. Anyway, here is the story of a Very Nice Man:

A month or so ago, I was asked to do a talk for him to give at a Very Important Place--not the White House, but along those lines. So I wrote it, and his secretary faxed it to him, and a day or two later she reported that he had no changes, which is usually the best news you can get--it means whoever you're writing for likes it. I shaded it in as done on my work log and forgot about it. A few days later, he called me on his cell from wherever he was to make some changes to another speech. I pulled it up on my computer, made the changes, and read them back to him before sending them off to the people in charge of getting the right things on the teleprompter.I checked that he had everything he needed, which he did, and then he told me that he'd really liked the Very Important Place speech I'd sent, thought it sounded just like him but better, and was just right for the occasion, etc. I was tickled, of course, because for speechwriters, usually no news is the best news--we don't generally get this kind of feedback. Anyway, nice, no?

But he wasn't done. This past week, I had a regular meeting with him--every six weeks or so, when he's in town, we sit down with his speaking schedule and figure out exactly what he needs for which events, and I make up the list of what to send him when, what needs to be translated and into which languages, what needs to go on a teleprompter, etc. This time, my manager decided to crash the meeting for a few minutes, since she had a quick question for him and he's hard to schedule time with. So we both walked into his office. He knows, of course, that she is my boss. What does he do? When we both sat down, he turned to me and told me, as though he had never said anything about it before, how much he'd liked the speech, how well it had gone over, how he'd been asked for copies, etc. Why? He isn't forgetful. I'm sure he knew he'd already told me all of this. It had to just be because he wanted to tell me while my boss was sitting there.

If you want a way to inspire undying devotion in the people who work for you, well, that's one good one.

3. Another piece of Barak news. He can now tell you the noises that various animals make. A sheep says baa, a cow says moo, a dog says ruff ruff, etc. However, any actual animal he sees, as well as any small living thing, is identified as "baby." And he hasn't quite managed that a cat says "meow." So when our cat strolled into the kitchen yesterday to check out any offerings that Barak might have from his high chair (as though he has ever once had anything she's been remotely interested in--hope springs eternal, I guess), he pointed at her and said, "Baby! Ruff ruff!" Because she is not, it appears, a cat, but rather a baby who says ruff. Ten years I've had her, and I never noticed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Those of you who know me will probably snigger behind your hands when I say, mildly, that I like to knit. The truth is that I am, well, very fond of knitting. However, these days, pretty much the only time I have to knit is 25 minutes in the morning and 25 minutes in the afternoon, on the bus to and from work. So when I made a deal to make a sweater for my friend Sarah if she'd make me one, I knew it would take a while. I didn't think it would take till November, though, and I started feeling exceptionally guilty about it when my (incredibly stunning) sweater was handed to me in August.

Meanwhile, Sarah's mostly-done sweater vanished in the move, refusing to reappear except in pieces, each of which turned invisible when another materialized, and then part of it reappeared with a mysteriously too-large neck that had to be ripped, and then when I finally found all the pieces (in the VERY LAST BOX I UNPACKED) and put them together, I caught part of the pattern in the seam and had to rip THAT, and, well... it took a while. But Sarah was very patient.

And here's the sweater, which I not only didn't photograph before mailing it, I didn't block it either... the iron has still not resurfaced post-move.

Monday, November 07, 2005

after the chagim

Well, the yomim tovim are over, and we all survived. Over the course of the holidays, a number of things I wanted to blog about entered my mind, swirled there briefly, and exited, chased away by thoughts of setting tables, lighting candles, and changing diapers. I know I wanted to blog about Barak and his cousins; my SIL and her mysterious similarities to, um, me; why the freezer is the best thing that has ever happened to Jewish womankind; and, probably, a bunch of other things that have since vanished in the fog of eating, sleeping, not sleeping, and chasing small children that enveloped the last two weeks. Alas, at this point, thoughtful and entertaining blogging on any of the above topics is probably not going to happen. The holidays are over for another year, and as much as I enjoyed them, I'm relieved that they're over.

Well, but that brings me to at least one item on my list. Because soon after I post this, my SIL will read this entry. The SIL who, with her husband and 3 children under the age of 5, were with us for two weeks, for all of Succos and the following Shabbos. She'll read the entry. And she'll see one word. She'll see "relieved." And she'll think, "Relieved! She's relieved! She's glad we left! It's because she doesn't like us! And because my kids are badly behaved! And we ate all their food! And they don't ever want us to come back!" She'll worry about this. She'll harp. And sooner or later, she'll call me. She'll talk about something else first, but I'll know where it's heading. It's inevitable. Within sixty seconds, she'll burst out, "I read your blog. Are you relieved that we're gone?" and I'll heave a deep sigh, and say, "No, we like you, we miss you, we don't hate you or your kids, we loved having you and want you to come back next year." There will be a short pause. And then she'll say, "Really?"

I know that men are supposed to marry their mothers, but my husband, it appears, has married his sister. Which is why, at least a few times a week, he gets poked in the ribs in the middle of the night.

"Do you love me?"
"Are you sure?"
"Mph. Yes. Do I have to wake up?"
"No, no. I'm sorry. Go back to sleep."
"Are you glad you married me?"
"Yes. I thought you said I didn't have to wake up."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Go back to sleep."
"Do you think I'm fat?"
Howl of frustration from husband, who sits up, whacks me with his pillow, rolls over and goes back to sleep.

(I would like make a point of noting, in the interests of full disclosure and for the information of my legions of dedicated readers, that my SIL's kids areboth cute and well behaved. They did not eat all our food; in fact, they brought most of it. And we do like them, and we do want them to come back. And no matter what MHH says, I still think I'm fat. But I admit that he does love me. Probably. Most of the time. I think.)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mr. Fixit

There were, when we moved in to our new apartment, many, many things that needed to be fixed. The furnace and hot water heater were both leaking (carbon monoxide and water, respectively); the walls and ceiling were cracked and/or crumbling, the locks could be opened with a credit card, and so on. We did the big things before we moved in, and have been doing more little things since, gradually, as we get to them. But as of last week, we were still left with a number of small but annoying things that needed to be fixed that I just couldn't do without tools, or that I couldn't do because I didn't know how, or that I knew I wouldn't be able to do a good job on. We needed a Fixit Man.

So, when I got a flyer in the mail during Yom Tov advertising the services of a local Fixit Man, I put it aside. And on Monday, I called him, and he came over later that afternoon. I showed him the dangerous-to-toddlers laundry chute, the two smoke detectors that needed to be installed, the doorknob to Barak's room that could be locked from the inside (bad bad), and the dripping bathtub tap. I also pointed out the wet spot in the basement ceiling drywall--not the soaking wet spot that was there when we moved in, but another, much smaller drip that MHH had noticed while doing laundry (because he does the laundry, because he's great). And I pointed out the incredibly annoying sliding door to the bathtub, which is not only impossible to clean but makes it unnecessarily difficult to bathe a small child. He nodded, grunted a few times, and went out to his car to get his tools.

His tools. Now, I don't think I've said anything about Barak's recent fascination with tools. He has two toy hammers, a screwdriver, a coping saw, a drill, and a workbench with some nails that he can bang in and pull out (this last representing the best two bucks I ever spent at a yard sale.) He loves all of them, and spends a lot of time fixing things in his room with his hammers and screwdriver, and then showing me his handiwork very proudly. He is definitely a fan of tools. So...

When Mr. Fixit came back into the house with an enormous honest-to-goodness power drill, Barak went totally silent. I asked him to hold my hand, just to keep him out of trouble, and he held my hand with no objections (not his usual response). We followed Mr. Fixit around the house, a traveling audience, as he removed and replaced Barak's doorknob, bolted shut the laundry chute, and put in two more smoke detectors (bringing the total in our five-room home to, um, seven, not counting the four in the basement. "I think you're pretty well protected," Mr. Fixit commented dryly.) He looked at the bathtub, and went down to the basement, and came back up to run the water, and went back down again, and came back up to say he needed to bring another guy the next day, because it was a two-person job. And yes, he could take off the shower door and put in a rod, no problem.

Yesterday, that's what he did. And Barak stood in the hall, holding my hand and watching him in total, complete awe, his mouth literally hanging open, as Mr. Fixit used his drill to take off the shower door frame, remove the two glass doors, and take the base off the top of the tub. He stood there in fascinated silence for a full twenty-five minutes, observing. Until he saw Mr. Fixit get a screwdriver out of his box. Then he pulled his hand out of mine, ran to his room, and screamed in the direction of his screwdriver (which was, for some reason, on the top of his bookshelf.) I got it for him, he ran back to the hall, offered me his screwdriverless hand, and stood there staring and clutching his screwdriver for the next I don't know how long.

So, now we have a shower curtain instead of a door, and the tap doesn't drip, and the bathroom window closes and latches, and you get all the water out of the shower when you shower instead of having half of it pour out the bottom tap. All very good things. And last night, Barak got a bath in his bathtub, with Abba able to supervise much more easily. And then he went to bed, where he slept very well, dreaming, probably, of power tools.