Yom Ha'atzmaut (Independence Day) celebrations have begun. Israeli flags and blue/white banners are popping up everywhere and the spirit of pride and excitement is contagious. This morning we went with Paul and Joan to a celebration at the community center with all of our town's pre-K schools. There were apparently 720 kids. It was quite a moving production with singing and dancing and lots of blue and white crepe paper. Ariella participated for about half and then decided to join us. I was more of a ham myself so it's different to have a child who prefers to observe and absorb than stand in the spotlight. The mayor even came and after making a speech he released some blue and white balloons (to the ceiling--we were indoors so don't worry about the environment!)
After a few minutes, Ariella turned to Michael and asked "Whose party is this?" Oy, I felt for her. I don't think she has really wrapped her head around the idea of nations and independence.
Yesterday we went to "Mini Israel" with Joan and Paul. It was pretty interesting and fun for the kids (who were particularly enthralled by a soccer match in a mini-Teddy Stadium). After mini-Israel, N had a baseball game and according to Michael this one was actually pretty close. His team (Gezer Bats) won 8-7 against the Bet Shemesh Predators. First they were up, then the Predators tied it, and then they were up, and then the Predators tied it, etc., until the Predators were actually up 7-6 going into the bottom of the last inning. Nehemiah handled himself admirably in the field as well as at the plate with a solid fly ball which was unfortunately caught. Nonetheless, the Gezer Bats are actually undefeated this year. I don't remember that happening with the Bad news bears but life doesn't always imitate t.v.
Meanwhile the last month has seen a real change with the kids. I think we have gotten over the first hurdle (doesn't matter that there are so many hurdles still ahead). Most of their friends from school live within a few blocks of us and now after school they are going to this one, that one. In the US you might have called it "play dates" but here it seems more informal and is arranged by the children. More like what I remember from my own childhood. It is so nice to see them hanging out with their new friends and feeling included. My Hebrew had better pick up fast or I will have no idea what they are talking about with their friends--though I must admit that this is already an issue!
We are currently in the time period between the Passover holiday and Shavuot holiday. These two are very thematically linked and we actually count the days between the two each night. Anyway, on the 33rd day there is a custom in Israel to have bonfires and I can not begin to describe the wood collecting that our children and all of their friends are involved in. This is not the time of year to bring your wood working out because the kids collect any wood they find in anticipation of the bonfires. It is commonplace to see gaggles of kids running around with tree branches, door frames, beams. Pretty much any piece of wood not nailed down is fair game. You would need an elaborate court system to determine which wooden piles belong to which groups but the children's information network seems to do a pretty good job monitoring all of that. Though just the other day we had to mediate a dispute where one group was collecting from a pile stashed by another group, and the object of the dispute was whether the hiding place was private property or not. (We thought it was not, and Michael's brilliant counsel amounted to "stop involving us, work it out yourselves").
I'll post this now before it gets too late because as my dad used to say when we were kids "It's almost time to get up."