Thursday, November 5, 2015

In spite of it all, life is good.

Yom chamishi, 23 Cheshvan 5776.

Thanks, Geula. My first painting in years. "Mosaic Shabbat"

So, life is good. It's a bit weird -- but it's good.

I balance my days between family, art and writing classes, Hebrew language study (yes, still, and probably forever), Torah classes, and work.

Work used to just be my 20-hour-a-week online job, and taking care of The Dearly Beloved and myself, now that the lads are all grown and able to take care of themselves. (When they can't, their wives and one fiancée pick up the slack.) Being privileged to babysit the Littlest Family Member every once in a while.

But things have changed.

Now, work also might mean stopping in the middle of one thing or another to help a potty-training four-year-old, or to give a six-year-old scratch paper for yet another art project. Work means getting two little people fed and off to school in the morning with lunch bags. Work means picking up a little one at his gan at two o'clock, and walking slowly, slowly home, stopping for a command of "Wait! Wait!" or an exclamation of "Oh, my!" The four-year-old (aka YMan) is fascinated by everything, and the running commentary is a walking-very-slowly commentary. On everything. Trees and rocks and sky and lizards and mosaics in the playground and so on. Even trash. Thank God.

Work means teaching morality and fair play in short, easily digested sentences to a very clever six-year-old (aka Little Elsa) who wants the world to be just a little more giving. And listening to "Let It Go" sung with so much fervor, and being The Perfect Audience, no matter how many times we are treated to "Cold never bothered me anyway," with a toss of the head strangely reminiscent of a 16-year-old... But she grasps everything, and she really, really wants to do what's right. Thank God.

Shades of déjà vu... This is only somewhat different -- the girl stuff, mostly -- than what it was like, yonks ago, to rear their father and uncles.

What's different is also very sweet. We are no longer Ema and Abba. We are Savta and Saba. Because we're old, semi-retired people, I don't do all of the child care. Saba has cleaned up his share of potty chair disasters, praised the pooper, prepared interesting snacks and sometimes dinner, oohed and aahed incredible works of art, answered all of the "why" questions... In short, as he reports to me, he "gets" what I was doing all those years.

What I have less time and inclination for: Blogging. Visiting Jerusalem. Taking photos of the wonderful world around me. You know -- stuff I loved.

The lack of time is temporary. Soon, their parents will kick-start their lives in Israel, finding jobs that net them enough money to pay rent on an apartment of their own. Hopefully not too far away, so we can still help out a bit, can still participate in gently moving these little people into their Israeli selves.

And now for something completely different. I have to relax my jaw. I've never been a jaw-clencher. I have never been a fearful person, having the gift never to be afraid until there is something immediate to fear. But these days, in Israel, I am an angry jaw-clencher. For hours at a time, before I'm aware of it.

I want my government to stick up for itself, to face facts, to realize that there is only Peace Through Strength. Sometimes, my government says exactly the right thing. You terrorize us, we will kill you, and we won't return the bodies of those who try to kill us for a hero's burial. Way to go, Israel! And then, bowing to some pressure or other (or even to some strategic wisdom), my government relents. Just like a weak parent. "No. Absolutely NOT. You may not wear lipstick at six, nor stay up till midnight watching trashy movies." Good parenting... and then -- not in my house, thank God, but I've heard of it! -- suddenly you see Miss Junior sporting Cherry Red on her prepubescent lips and watching Double Divas... Either you don't ever make the rule, based on whatever wisdom you possess, or you stick to it. Or you apologize, and say that even mommies and daddies (and governments) make bad judgment calls sometimes. Or -- you lose your credibility. With everyone.

Relax. Breathe. Linshommmmmme. (That's "to breathe," and in Hebrew, it sounds so much more Zen.)

As I tell everyone else who is stressed by this impossible situation: Hashem runs the world. And He made certain promises -- and He never lies. Linshome. Somehow, as the Israelis say with emunah of which even they are unaware, "Yi'hi'yeh beseder." It will be okay.

Enjoy the precious time with kids, with each other, with opportunities to learn and grow and create, and to get closer to The Creator.

And try to unclench the jaw.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmm! Cold never bothered me anyway...