On Friday night, a few of the kids were not sick, exactly, but under the weather. Avtalyon fell asleep on the landing of the stairs at about 4--just lay down there and conked out. Mr. Bigfoot moved him to his bed, and there he stayed, until around 11 PM when the three of us (me, Mr. Bigfoot and Alisha) suddenly heard the dulcet sounds of Avtalyon belting out birkat hamazon (grace after meals) at about 200 decibels.
"Avtalyon? Are you up?"
"We can hear that. Do you want to come downstairs and eat something, so you'll have something to bench on?"
He came downstairs, a little flushed but not feverish, eyes the size of dinner plates and the color of tar pits. He traipsed into the living room, stopped short, and then, with the full-body, arm-waving expressiveness that is his peculiar provenance, exclaimed, "Imma! Do you know what? It's the middle of the night! It's not morning anymore! Do you know how I know?"
Pause while he waits for an answer.
"No! How do you know?"
"Because I can see the bookshelves!"
I will cheerfully give myself full credit for figuring this one out. He was talking about seeing the bookshelves reflected in the windows. During the day you see the backyard; at night, it's dark out and light inside, and so you see the bookshelves. Of course.
Mordechai is ten months old. How crazy is that? He's got two teeth on the bottom, two on the top, and two more coming in on top on the sides. He just started waving bye-bye, crawls everywhere, loves to climb ther stairs but can really only do it with two adult hands right behind him, because he doesn't have the balance to not fall over backward every so often. He still has that insanely hilarious cackle when he laughs. He just started eating food, and has gone pretty much directly from gagging on half a teaspoonful of pureed carrots to eating cheerios and matzo balls and noodles and demanding four square meals a day plus snacks. If you put him in the high chair, he howls until he sees the box of Cheerios come down from the cupboard. Then he's happy. He's getting much better at navigating them into his mouth, too.
Marika turned three a few weeks ago, and had a lovely birthday party at school that was the culmination of nearly a full year of "yom bodedet" fantasies. She went to an upshearin for a friend's little boy last December and has been kind of obsessed with birthdays every since. She was very very attached to the crown she got, for days, and still refers to any cake or gift or birthday-associated item as a "yom yom bodedet."
I pick the kids up from gan most afternoons, and usually what happens is I pick Marika up a little early, at 5-8 minutes till 2, and she and I and Mordechai in the baby wrap go up and get Iyyar and Avtalyon (whose ganim are right next to each other) and then all three of them play in the gan playground for an hour or close to it. This works out well for everyone. Iyyar gets his OT in by swinging hard on the swings, which I insist on as a prerequisite of playtime; Avtalyon also gets his playground time in, which his OT also suggests for his gross motor delays. But really, what most of them do is sit down in the sand and dig. And dig. And dig some more. Twice a week Barak comes home as I am heading up the hill, and I take him with me, and then they launch major works of civil engineering, with connecting tunnels and bridges and what have you. All the other kids have long gone except for Oded and his sister, the daughters of the assistant in the big gan that is between Avtalon and Iyyar's little ganim (since Iyyar and Avtalyon are both in gan safa, with only nine--NINE--boys in each, they're in smaller spaces. Iyyar's in a side room, Avtalyon's in a trailer.) Today I saw Oded's little sister, who is four but very tall for her age, strike up a friendship with Marika. She has only just begun to really have friends, so it was really fun to watch the two of them settle into the sandbox, collect their toys, take turns and so on.
Iyyar's doing well. He's in a good phase right now, seems happy at gan, is doing less of the weird behavior, isn't too hard to get out the door in the morning, isn't pounding on Marika quite as much. But it's day by day. Some days are great; some days, not so much. I'm still hoping to see him in a regular kita aleph (first grade) class next year, but if he's in a kita katana, and that seems like the best place for him, then that's OK too. He's gotten kind of amazing with mental math. And he's gotten really affectionate, in a way that is a little bit clingy but not alarmingly so. He just likes to sit next to me on the couch and cuddle. Obviously, I don't object to this. I'm all about cuddling on the couch.
And Barak just got a 107 on his Torah test. Homework continues to be a struggle and I've completely stopped trying to get him to daven on days he doesn't have school. I don't need to make it into a fight. He's steadily turning into a yishuv kid; goes all over by himself, although I insist on knowing where he is and exactly when he'll be back. But last week I ran out of eggs, and after wrestling with myself a little bit, I handed him money, sent him to the grocery store, and told him I needed 30 large eggs and he could also buy some parve chocolate for us to share. Half an hour later, he was back, mission accomplished and only two eggs broken. A new era, to be sure.