Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #106 - The last permission slip I signed was in Brooklyn

There are no permission slips here. No liability waivers.
The only thing I seem to sign for my kids are notes from their teachers. They are notes explaining how good my children were behaving after they maybe did something very minimally not so good. This, according to the child translating the note for me. I sign nonetheless.

What I don’t sign is a permission slip of any sort. Last week Becky had a tiyul (trip). The note I got home said there would be a tiyul and that she would need a hat, extra water, and extra snack. I know this because this is what Becky told me it said. Maybe (probably) the note mentioned where they were going. When Becky returned from the tiyul (which I failed to properly prepare her for – she got a spare [read: lost and found] hat from the teacher) all she knew was that they’d traveled far (more than 3 hours in her estimation) and that there were bees. 3 hours can take you far in this tiny country. If they went north she was visiting bees that pollinate flowers in Syria. If south, Egyptian bees.

Slippery when wet
It’s finally raining in the aretz. Welcomed and much needed rain. All over Israel you’ll see people thanking Hashem for the rain. You’ll also see them gripping railings tightly so as not to slip on cobblestone staircases. And cobblestone walkways. And on wet marble floors. What you won’t see is a sign warning them of the possibility of slippage.

In retrospect, the signing of our Israeli citizenship papers was akin to the signing of one all-encompassing permission slip and liability waiver. After that, it’s all about common sense, watching your back, watching your neighbors’ (kids’) backs, and Hashem watching over the whole bunch of us.

It's also about no nonsense - (Sometimes a bump is really just a kiss)
A car backed into my backing up car in the Mamilla parking garage the day I went into labor with Rachel. We stopped, got out, estimated the damage from the bump (none), determined our cars had simply ‘kissed’ (albeit loudly), and went our separate ways in a matter of 3 minutes. It was a pleasure.

Colorful liquids in small bottles
Shortly after I moved in I borrowed some floor cleaner from my downstairs neighbor. I thought nothing of the brightly colored plastic bottle in which it came until Rosie brought it to me with a cup and asked me to pour her a drink.

It’s not always floor cleaner. Sometimes it’s flammable.
In the makolet, near the Shabbat candles, there sits brightly colored liquid in clear plastic bottles. Parafin for lighting wicks in glass bulbs (in lieu of wax candles). They look so pretty. And fancy. And familiar. Like something….ah, yes, like Kool Aid.

HIPAA – what’s that?
Before Bob left for the states last week he had done some routine bloodwork. While he was gone I decided to call for the results. The conversation went something like this:
Me: I’m calling for the results of my husband’s bloodwork.
Them: What’s your husband’s teudat zehut number?
Me: I don’t know. He’s out of the country.
Them: Well tell us his name and we’ll get the number.
I give them his name.
Them: Okay. His bloodwork came back normal.
Me: Thanks.
Them: Now take down his teudat zehut number so you have it. In case you need it for anything else while he’s gone.

Places I really expected to see liability waivers:
The shooting range. But no. It’s just pay and shoot.
Taekwondo. Nope. The only permission was for tashlumim (monthly payments) which we did not authorize but which they are taking anyway.

Bob runs private tours of the Gush for friends whose fancy tours’ liability concerns prevent them from touring Israel properly.
We recently had visitors from the States. They had come from a tour. We asked if they’d been to Ma’arat Hamachpaila (tomb of the patriarchs). No. To Kever Rachel? No. Anywhere in Gush Etzion? No. Seems the insurance for the tour does not allow for them to travel inside “the green line” in Israel. Which seems nonsensical to me since I live inside it. And my kids don’t even need permission slips to visit those places with school, camp or ulpan.

Speaking of camp
You know those days before camp starts and after it finishes? Those are perfect days to send your kids to kytana. Kytana is camp as far as I’m concerned. Camp run by a couple of 13-14 year olds. Serving a whole bunch of 3-6 year olds. No parents. No permission slips. It takes some getting used to. But not much.

Kids shop here
There are signs all over Jerusalem reminding families that the official unsupervised street crossing age for children is 9 years old. This fact was met with enthusiasm by my Barbara and disappointment by the rest of my (younger than 9) children. Until they figured out they could cross the street if Barbara accompanies them. And so it goes. Children walk to school. They walk to kug (afterschool program). And they walk to the makolet

I once saw a friend’s daughter (age 5) at the makolet.
Where’s mommy?
Who are you here with?
My kytana. We are on a scavenger hunt.
In the makolet?
No. All around Efrat.

A common summer sight in parks all over Israel are birthday parties at which candy is served up shish kabob style. On pointy little skewers. Two per kid. Make that two per running-all-around-the-park-holding-a-pointy-little-skewer-in-each-hand kid.

Hafseka (break) - In Israel they take their breaks very seriously
We hear the most amazing reports from my kids about things that happen in school.
This one punched that one in the mouth and his whole tooth fell out!
This one fell from the monkey bars and broke her leg!
Where was the teacher?
It was hafseka!
Yes, for you. But where was the teacher watching you.
There is no teacher watching us in hafseka. It is hafseka for the teacher too!

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