but then I figured I might as well just put everything I was going to tell her in a blog post instead. Except in a list with numbers, since it's a blog post.
1. Right before I left for the airport to come back home, I found a Priority Mail box on Yehudis's porch, with Grandma E's return address. It was full of cute little girl dresses in sizes 2T and 3T for Marika. We put one of them on her today, a long-sleeved striped T-shirt dress with a crossover (surplice? is that what they call it? top) and little ruffles along the neck and waist. It might possibly be the cutest thing ever, and Marika, in pigtails and little pink sandals, might possibly have been the world's cutest little girl.
She understands so much of what we say now. Mr. Bigfoot kept saying all day how cute the dress was, and at one point when he said it she looked up at him with a big grin and her hands on her skirt. "Dwess!" When I get her dressed, she is there like lightning, and if I don't have her shoes to hand, she dashes off and finds them for me. And then runs to Mr. Bigfoot and shows off how pretty she looks. Seriously. She is barreling out of babyhood at shocking speed, that one.
2. A few weeks ago I got a copy of the Schoolhouse Rock CD. Maybe there's more than one, but this is the "best of" that has such classic hits as Conjunction Junction, Interjections, the Preamble to the Constitution, etc. My personal favorite is "Interjections! Show excitement! Or Emotion! They're generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point, or by a comma when the feeling's not as strong." Marika's favorite is "Zero My Hero." Except she pronounces it, "Dzeewoh!"
3. Iyyar's ganenet gave us the filled-out six-page evaluation form for us to take to get him a develomental exam/therapy. She checked almost every box and commented on everything we've seen in him plus some things we haven't. And she made it sound so... dire. I mean, I understand that there is a strong motivation for her to do this, because if she said the reassuring things that I, his mother, want to hear ("He's fine and will surely outgrow all of this,") well, then he wouldn't be getting any help. One of the things I noticed was that she said, "He hasn't made any friends in gan yet, probably because of the language issue." Last year, one of the things Iyyar told me all the time was that he didn't have friends, nobody played with him, the other kids were mean etc. Both the ganenot totally and absolutely denied that this was true. They said he had friends and he played nicely with the other kids, and that all kids said things like this sometime. And then they'd say things like, "He bothers the other children so they don't want to play with him." It never made much sense, except for the overwhelming impression that whatever the problem, it was all him and not the gan.
Last week, Iyyar came home dancing and singing: "I have a friend in gan!" I dropped him off the next day and he pointed out a kid with huge payes. "That's my friend!" All was sunshine and roses. Yesterday, he came home and it was like he had regressed, not quite to last May, but maybe to July sometime. I had to ask him ten times to do anything, kept having to tell him to look at my face, kept repeating his name before he'd pay attention to me and even then didn't make eye contact. I couldn't get out of him what the problem was, until bedtime when we were cuddling in his bed together and he suddenly burst out, "I had a bad day in gan today. Nobody played with me!" Hmmm.
I'm starting to wonder about a lot of things that went on in his gan last year. And tomorrow I'm going to take a copy of the class list to his ganenet and ask which kids would be good to invite over to play during Succos break.
4. Barak's second-grade homework is already way over my head. They get a pasuk in Chumash to look up (a verse of Bible) and a list of ten questions to answer. Right now, they're doing Lech L'cha (Genesis 12). They're supposed to find the pasuk and answer the questions WITHOUT HELP. For Barak, this is not happening; his Hebrew is getting much better but he just doesn't have the vocabulary. I don't either! On Thursday, he broke out his homework and I just couldn't help him. I mean, I could have done it if I'd sat down for an hour with a dictionary and ignored all my other children, but an hour before dinnertime on Thursday it wasn't happening. I sent him up to find Abba in the beis medrash, and he came back ten minutes later saying, "Abba says I should eat dinner now and he'll help me at dinnertime." Okay, except that dinner is currently a pot full of raw vegetables and another pot of water that hasn't yet boiled for pasta. So after dinner the two of them sat down together and did two of the ten questions before he (Abba) had to leave for night seder.
Barak was upset. "I have to do TEN questions Imma! That's my homework!" "Barak, it's OK. Abba's going to call your morah and ask her what to do." So after night seder, Abba called Morah Tzipora and explained the issue: he's only home for an hour at night, Barak can't do it on his own, what do we do? She said, it's ok if he only does a few of them as long as he understands what he's doing. She also said that he needs help in general; he asks for a lot of help in class and is having trouble keeping up. This isn't so surprising; Barak has, after all, only been here a year, and his Hebrew is more on the level of "He took my pencil!" and "Let's play Lego" than it is on the level of "And there was a famine in the land, and Abram descended to Egypt to sojourn there because the famine was severe in the land."
What to do? We talked. We could hire a tutor, but we both don't like that idea; it's good for fathers and sons to learn together. "But the only time I have is night seder." Night seder begins at 8. We looked at each other. "He's never asleep by 8 anyway. He's always reading in bed till 9 at least. He might as well be learning Torah. Is he awake now?" Yes he was, at 9:30 PM.
Barak came bounding out of bed. "How would you feel about going to night seder with Abba to do your Chumash homework?"
"Instead of going to bed? Going to the bais medrash with Abba?"
Solemnly, trying very hard to contain any unseemly excitement: "I would feel very very good about that."
5. There was going to be more to this list, but I just got a phone call with a speech I need to write RIGHT NOW THIS VERY SECOND. So I'm off to accept an honorary degree, and I'll just have to finish this later. Stay tuned!