Tuesday, March 27, 2007


We are, as I have mentioned, planning on going away for all of Pesach, so this may be the last you'll hear from me for a while. The things that need to be happening are, gradually, happening; the laundry is in progress, Iyyar's transition out of our bedroom is nearing completion, and the house is getting cleaner and more organized. I don't need to be cleaning for Pesach, obviously, but I do want it tidy when we leave. I went shopping last night and bought new ties for MHH and two new skirts for myself; the boys are set for clothes already.

I wanted to write up the whole hospital experience, but probably won't do it justice. Things I remember are riding in the taxi in the predawn darkness, pointing out the red and green lights to Barak and asking if we needed to stop or go; helping him put on his hospital gown ("Issa clown shirt!") and socks ("I gotta yellow socks! Iss too big. Iss falling off! Imma help you please!") and, oh the heartbreak, waving bye-bye as he walked off with the anesthesiologist ("I gonna go this way!" as the door closed behind them).

While he was in surgery, I went down to Public Safety to reclaim the cell phone I had left behind on our ER trip; a good distraction. I called Grandma E, knitted a little bit (disastrously, of course--what was I doing bringing Thinking Knitting with me?), and, of course, drank Diet Coke. I had a nervous stomach for the first time since, um, college I think. When the doctor came out, she complimented me on how well Barak had behaved ("He was an angel,") and brought me back to see him just as he was waking up. He was still mostly out of it, but saw me, and the first thing he said was, "I wanna come out!" and then, when he saw the IV in his hand, a wailed "I don't like it!" Who would?

I held him for an hour or so as the drugs wore off, and then we went back to his room--on the same floor where I had been with Iyyar and Grandma E almost a year ago now--and cuddled on his bed for a bit. I tried to get him to take Tylenol, which ordinarily he loves, but he'd had enough of being messed with. "Do you want to go back to the playroom and play with the trains?" "Yeah..." He had a couple of sips of juice, and the IV came out; I held Commander Toad and his new stuffed rhinoceros at a strategic angle so he couldn't see it happen. He didn't like it, but it wasn't bad.

We went back down the hall to the playroom we'd been in for a little while earlier that morning, taking along a box of juice and a melting orange popsicle; he wasn't into the popsicle and, when I suggested it, thought that chocolate ice cream would be a much better idea. We went to the nurses' station to ask, and there was the same nurse who had been there with Iyyar. Two chocolate ice creams in styrofoam cups, and his concrete mixer truck shirt back on, and he was more or less back to his usual self. He found the great big red Radio Flyer wagon, and I pulled him up and down the hall in it a few times (shockingly, those things are really hard to steer in reverse.) There was another little girl there, the cousin of someone who'd just had his tonsils out, and I gave the two of them a couple of rides. Then our babysitter came with Iyyar, who promptly fell in love with the train table himself, and stood there laying waste to the entire yard; we got our discharge instructions, and transport came with a wheelchair, and we headed downstairs.

And this is where our story abruptly lurches into Part II.

As we went downstairs and I had the slightly surreal experience which I am about to relate, I thought, "I want to blog about this, but there is not going to be any good way to make the transition from Barak's surgery to Medrash a la Transport Guy." Well, whatever, it's all part of the narrative of the day.

So the transport guy came up with the wheelchair, and there I am holding Barak's hand, and Ada is holding Iyyar, and our stuff is piled on the wheelchair, with Barak's little backpack hanging off the IV pole. Because I had Barak, I was walking a bit behind, but I could just overhear the conversation. And I could definitely get every one of Ada's, "Get away from me, you weirdo" vibes. Loud and clear.

You can tell, in about half a heartbeat, when you meet an evangelical Christian who sees you as a target. Woohoo! A Jew! A soul to save! They're just a little too friendly. Just a little too interested. Just a little too...

Now, I should interrupt myself here to state that some of my best friends are Christians. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) But I am not just talking about the ambient "I live in America therefore I am Christian by default" Christians. I have close friends who are hard-core born-again Christians. My very best friend from grad school is currently at Texas Christian University. We talk religion all the time when we're together, and it is always with the understanding that you won't try to convert me, I won't try to convert you, and should we put the noodles in the soup or have them on the side? No, I don't think it makes a lot of sense, but I'm sure Yiddishkeit doesn't make sense to Christians, so we're even. In a nutshell, Christianity is fine, as long as you are not trying to a) push it on me or b) use it to justify killing me, my family, or any other Jews.

Where was I? Right. Pesach. So, Ada went to get her car, and I was sitting there with Barak and Iyyar, and I had already overheard the transport guy ask her if she was my sister. (Which, folks, if you saw the two of us together... not so much.)

"So," he said brightly. "When's your Passover?"

Oh, dear. "It starts in about a week and a half."

"Yeah, that's when it starts for me too."

Funny, you don't look Jewish.

"Are you a Seventh-Day Adventist?"

"No, I'm a Bible Christian. I'm cleaning out my leaven. And last year I took the whole eight days off from work!"

For a moment, I thought, wait a minute. Is there some sect of Christians that thinks halacha is binding on non-Jews?

No. No, there's not. I have no idea what this guy's hashkofa is, but halacha was not what he was talking about.

I have to say that while in general I find the idea of co-opting Pesach and sedarim into something not Jewish sort of odd, there are ways of doing it that seem more rational than others. I worked once with someone in New York who had a "freedom seder" at her AME church. That I can see; escape from slavery, God's mighty hand, it's logical. But anyone who thinks that the seder is about the coming of Jesus is either a) on crack, b) incapable of actually reading a haggada in anything but an English translation, c) trying very, very hard to read into the text or d) all of the above.

But what do you say to someone who, completely ignorant of the entire mesora, tries to tell you that really, the seder is not about the flight from Egypt but a Christian prophecy, and tries to darshon text he cannot read and does not understand except in translation? With no idea of the history, background, commentators, or anything? There is just nowhere to begin that doesn't involve some version of, "Get back to me when you can to read the text you're trying to darshon, will you? But by the time you're able to do that, I don't think you'll still think there's anything to discuss."

Oh, well, never mind. I don't think I can tell the rest of that story without ranting, which isn't what I feel like doing right now. So let's just leave that one there, and return to Barak, who, after a brief nap at home, spent the rest of his afternoon recuperating on his bed, where all three of us (Barak, Iyyar, and I) sat eating ice cream and watching Muppets DVDs on Abba's laptop. By bedtime, he was informing me that the hospital had been fun. I don't think he remembered anything but the trains and the ice cream.

I was thinking about posting a picture of Barak, just so that you could all have some idea who you're reading about (those four or five of you who don't already know what he looks like). But I feel a little funny about posting anything that identifying, especially since I might want to take the permissions off the blog one day and don't want to have to go back changing old posts. So here is a little picture of Barak as a baby. He looks pretty similar now, just bigger, and with a backhoe loader yarmulke. Grandma E made the poncho, which is in Iyyar's drawer now.

Chag kasher v'sameach to everyone who would like to have one, and happy Easter to everyone else.


k. said...

First, how cool is a backhoe loader yarmulke?

And second, I apologize on behalf of Christians everywhere for someone's rather misguided attempt to appropriate your holiday. Someday he'll figure out that Christians are not beholden to halacha.

But in the meantime, I want to see him take the full heaping tablespoon of horseradish at his "seder." ;-)

uberimma said...

I was thinking a solid chunk of root, myself!

What are you doing reading my blog? Go home and spin on your new wheel!!

Deborah said...

Wow, maybe little Christian boys will want backhoe loader yarmulkes, too.

You know that's a joke, right Uberimma? Yes, you do.

Happy Passover.

jasmin said...

I find evangelicals of any stripe terribly annoying, too. My mother likes to tease the Jehovah's Witnesses who knock on her door, by debating theology with them, but I mostly just growl.

Strangely, I found that many preaching-types who used to knock on my door were easily dissauded by my saying firmly, "No, thank you, I'm not Christian." They usually respond, "Oh, allright then" and go away, which I don't understand at all because surely I have just identified myself as prime conversion-fodder?

Oh well, if they were logical reasonable people they wouldn't be doing that in the first place, I guess.

Happy passover, happy easter, and happy no-rooz! Today is the almost-last day of the Persian/Zoroastrian new year's celebration, which begins at the Spring equinox and is 13 days of visiting back and forth before everyone tries to go on an open-air picnic, preferably out of the city, and that usually means sitting in gridlock all day.

Penny said...

My mom's partner used to debate the JW's all the time. He'd also have long conversations with telemarketers (pre the do not call) They stopped knocking on his door. ANYWAY ...

Barak is a very cute little boy and I bet his yarmulke is equally adorable. Oohh! i just thought of a gift idea.. i'll email you one of these eons. I still have a package to mail off but as it contains chametz it's currently locked and sold. *sigh*

chag sameach v'kasher!