1. I did ulpan last summer. I started out in bet, moved to aleph because I preferred the teacher, and learned a tremendous amount. It was great for me, and also I think really good for Mr. Bigfoot, who for the first time was spending significant quantities of time on his own every day with all or most of his children. He got a lot more confident about taking care of them, and started feeling that being alone with all four of them was a normal, not an emergency, situation. That really helped when I was out of the country last week, and was also good bonding time—now that we are back to our school schedule, he really doesn’t see much of them at all.
The problem, through, was that when I was working and doing ulpan, I was so exhausted I couldn’t function. I’d come home from ulpan and collapse and sleep for three hours. This was not a huge problem over the summer, when Mr. Bigfoot was around, but doesn’t work now that he’s back to being out of the house all afternoon. So when September rolled around and it was time for me to start ulpan gimel, it was really a dilemma. I wanted to do ulpan. I NEED to do ulpan. But it’s just too much, especially since I now am working 35 (!) hours per week, almost all at night. So I’m not doing it, and not only that but I barely have to leave campus now that I don’t need to shlep Barak anymore. I need to figure out how, exactly, I am going to avoid losing all the Hebrew I learned in the last year, because as things stand I almost certainly will.
2. Before Barak was born, a few weeks into my pregnancy I think, I started getting some itchy spots on my calves. Slowly, week by week, it spread, until I had a horrendously itchy rash over most of my legs. I went to the dermatologist, who told me it was eczema and I should use moisturizer. I did, but it didn’t help at all, and by the last two weeks, it was everywhere but my face, hands, and neck, and I was indescribably miserable—the itchiness was horrendous, there was no way not to scratch, and… yeah. Awful. But a week after Barak was born, it was gone.
A few months ago, the back of one knee got itchy. Then it spread. Then it spread all the way around my calf and then it appeared on the other one. Then it spread all the way up one leg and now it’s starting on one arm. This time it’s not pregnancy-related. So what is it? It’s unbelievably itchy. It’s also really not going away, despite all the Aquaphor I smear on it. It looks exactly like it did last time. Another dermatologist run? Or any other suggestions for things to smear on a Horrible Itchy Rash that Won’t Go Away?
3. Grandma E asked me what I missed, besides the shopping (Target! Trader Joe’s!), about America. I’ve been thinking about it. Obviously it was really nice to see my friends. I ate the things I miss here (TJ’s tomato soup!). I was totally astounded and completely unprepared when it began to rain, in the beginning of September! But I think the only thing I actually missed, that gave me a sense of “ahhhh,” to be there, was being able to talk easily to anyone I met. My Hebrew just isn’t there yet. But it’s funny—a few weeks ago I overheard a couple of Hungarian girls talking on the bus (tourists) and started chatting. And I was really struck by how simple Hebrew is, at least when compared with Hungarian (okay fine ANY language is simple when compared with Hungarian, but…) There’s just so much less to keep track of. Surely I can do this. I just need to work at it some more.
4. Iyyar’s new gan, and his new ganenet, seem very very promising. The second week of school, she pulled Mr. Bigfoot aside and said that she wanted to get him a developmental exam so he could start therapy ASAP. She noted the things we’ve seen—how it’s hard for him to focus, hard to pay attention, how he’s in constant motion. She hasn’t noticed the anxiety, and that’s reassuring, because he really has been so much less anxious lately. I can’t even describe how much better things are with him at home. The faces, the inability to talk to him because he was just on another planet and wouldn’t look at you, the running around in circles yelling at nothing—all gone. He’s still a little spacy, still kind of oblivious—he’ll never notice what I’m in the middle of when he asks for something or starts talking to me, for example, and still sometimes does things that are wildly dangerous without realizing it—but nothing that’s so far off normal for a five-year old. I’m feeling a lot more optimistic.
5. Have I mentioned the Scary Underwear? Can’t remember. Anyway, in case I didn’t:
When Barak was ready for underwear (or when I hahahaha thought he was and bought it for him), he got Sesame Street underwear. Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover etc. He liked this very much. When Iyyar was ready for underwear, he inherited Barak’s underwear, with the addition of some extra Super Grover underwear because he loved Grover. This was fine and great.
I don’t remember when, exactly, I bought Barak his first package of superhero underwear, but it must have been around age four. I don’t remember Iyyar saying much about it, but Avtalyon used to take any underwear he could find and pull it on over his diaper and even over all his clothes—I have some cute pictures of him aged 18 months or so, wearing Grover underwear over his overalls. When we came here he was still in diapers, and I brought superhero underwear (Batman, Spiderman, Justice League etc.) for Barak and Iyyar and the Sesame Street underwear for Avtalyon.
This, clearly, was an error in judgment on my part.
Because right from the beginning, when Avtalyon was out of diapers last December sometime, he resented this. He did not want Sesame Street. He wanted what his big brothers had, namely, “scary underwear.” And he was not taking no for an answer. He’d sneak it out of his brothers’ drawers when they weren’t looking, and they would get enraged. He started waking up at the crack of dawn to raid their underwear drawers before they got up, to snag the Batman underwear before they caught him. They responded to this by—you got it—hiding their underwear on high shelves that he couldn’t reach. One morning we were all woken at about 5 am by the hysterical wails of a distraught Avtalyon, the stealthy one-child Scary Underwear Liberation Front, thwarted: “I HATE Cookie Monster! Cookie Monster’s STUPID!”
I felt bad for him. Mr. Bigfoot, who better than I understands the appeal of Scary Underwear, felt bad too. So I told the other boys, “Just let him. When I go to America next time, I’ll bring back lots and lots of scary underwear. He won’t wear it out before then, and you can all have new underwear. I'll even get Star Wars if they have it.”
I was as good as my word. I bought SIX packages of scary underwear at Target. Star Wars, Captain America, Star Wars in Lego incarnation, whatever they had in the right sizes. And when I came home, I pulled them out of my bag and handed them over.
The look on his face made it all worthwhile. Mr. Bigfoot was pointing out Captain America and how he had bullets bouncing off his shield. The next day, Avtalyon bounced out of bed, naked except for underwear, beaming, and danced over to me to show off his tush. “Look! It’s Captain America! Dere are bullets bouncing off his shield!”
6. Last thing: When I was away, Mr. Bigfoot emailed me, “Remind me when you get back to tell you the cutest thing ever.” I wasn’t here for this, obviously, but I can picture it. Apparently one morning Mr. Bigfoot woke up to find a sad, sad, sad Avtalyon, sitting in the corner of the hall, knees up to his chest, naked except for socks.
“What’s wrong, Avtalyon? Why are you looking so sad?”
“I can’t finda Hulk shirt.”
“Why don’t you just wear a regular undershirt?”
"I needa HULK shirt!”
Lips atremble, face awash in tragedy, “If I had a Hulk shirt, I be a little bit powerful.”