This morning I woke up at 6:20 after about four hours of sleep to get the kids off to school. The routine now is that Abba takes Avtalyon, I take Barak with Marika in the snugli, and Iyyar goes with the neighbors (hooray neighbors!) to gan, which their son also goes to. This morning the neighbors were running late and Barak and I were too; it got worse when he asked to take the closer-but-slow bus instead of the farther-but-faster one. We were late to school--not terribly, but about ten minutes.
I dropped him off--he doesn't even say goodbye anymore, just marches purposefully inside with his big blue backpack--and walked back down the main street back to the bus stop, got on another bus and got off at the Meuchedet by the shuk, where I had an appointment. Then back up to the shuk, where I bought cherry tomatoes, socks for myself, peppers, tons of Alei Katif bug-free lettuce, bananas, plums and red cabbage. Then home for an hour, cleaning up; then off to pick up Iyyar and make a post office stop; then back home, where Abba and Avtalyon were both napping. We played for a bit after Abba went back to work, then at 4 went up to the bus stop to pick up Barak, who now--halleluja!-- has a hasaa (a paid carpoool with another mother).
We came home and found the other neighboring family with kids roughly the ages of ours out playing; it was starting to get dark so I invited them all in to play Playmobil. The mom, whom I like immensely, and I chatted while I folded laundry and Marika trundled around the floor with ever-increasing fourlegged speed; then the mom went home with her boys and her oldest daughter stayed for a few minutes (she is 7) to help me with Barak's homework. ("What's that picture of?" "A hammock," and I wrote down the word in Hebrew so I could help him draw the appropriate lines to the appropriate letters.)
She left and Barak came out asking politely for a snack; he'd been going tooth and nail with Iyyar a little earlier so I was fine with that development and offered him some of the cherry tomatoes I'd bought. He said yes please and then I showed him a huge on-the-vine bunch of them. "How about this?" His eyes got wide. "Ohhhhh boy! Yeah!" He was so cute about it, and after I washed them and handed them over in a bowl he tucked in with totally adorable glee.
I couldn't resist. I went over and kissed him.
"I love you."
"I love you too."
What to say to that?
"I love you THREE."
"I love you four."
"I love you five."
"I love you six."
"I love you seven."
"No! Imma, let's do it by fives. I love you five."
"I love you ten."
"No, you start."
"Okay. I love you five."
"I love you ten."
"I love you fifteen."
"I love you twenty."
"I love you thirty."
"I love you forty."
"No, sweetie, you're on thirty-five."
"I can't! I have a tomato in my mouth."
Later on he confided that he was sure he loved me more. I said I didn't know. He said he did.
"I love you more than Diet Coke!" I said, dramatically.
He shook his head with equally dramatic dismissiveness. "Do you know how much I love YOU?" he exclaimed. "I love you more than my ROMAN GALLEON!"
What can I say? Maybe he wins.