Bring a lot of white shirts. People like to ask for advice for their own upcoming aliyah and I mention this because there is something to celebrate or commemorate or mark in some way that requires your children wearing a white shirt almost every week. Last week all the activity was around Jerusalem day and tomorrow is Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) so A had to wear a white shirt and festive clothes to Gan today. Yesterday as we were walking in, one of her friends made mention to me that she needed to bring a basket to Gan the next day. I gave him a quizzical look. "Ema shel Ariella" (translation: "Ariella's mom"--kids here call you as the mother of your child's name) he went on, "you can't forget the basket." See poor little A probably misses out on some of the goings on in her Gan because they require either a knowledge of how things worked in previous years or a commitment to reading e-mail from the teacher. Now even those of you who are reading in your primary language probably only scan. Reading it in Hebrew things can get lost. The parents don't think to mention these details because what kind of person doesn't know for instance that you are meant to bring a basket to gan the day before Shavuot? So it falls on the kids to bring me up to speed so to speak. I can imagine those little kids "Chaval (oh what a pity), this week she didn't bring the red flower..."
So after the five-year-old gave me the heads-up, I asked the teacher because I was still a bit fuzzy on the details. I left the room thinking I would bring her a yogurt and fruit in a grocery sack. Fortunately, I got another call that night "ema shel Ariella, can she come play?" I love these phone calls because when I'm speaking with the little kids we're all on the same level and they know what it feels like to not be understood so they don't mind repeating or speaking slowly. Anyway, I learned when I dropped her off that it was more a decorated bakset that we were supposed to bring. I'm no historian and I'm not about to get into which tradition came first, but to a girl from Kansas this sounded suspiciously like Easter baskets. I'm sure it's all connected with the first fruits etc. but if I had been given more than a night's notice I could have sent her with a lovely basket. As it is I was able to dig something out of our cupboard and we walked in with our heads held high. All the girls had little flower wreaths on their heads (there's always next year) and since she and her friend had made crowns on the playdate A too had something on her head though a bit more taped-together-construction-paper-than-flowers but she didn't care.
Meanwhile, we are considering getting N a cell phone. Thank goodness he has really fallen in with a nice group of friends and most nights he isn't home. It's constant running and doing and going. I don't want to push my luck but I have also noticed a major drop in comparisons to Kansas or even a mention. Last week when he was speaking with one of his close friends from Kansas, he learned that his friend was moving to Colombia--as in South America. Wow, I said your friend is also moving overseas. N gave me a look and reminded me that there actually was not an ocean separating North and South America. Details.
Back to the subject of Easter bunnies etc. Last week L went with a friend to the local community center to watch a movie. I'll confess I didn't do any screening and the friend's mom told me she thought L understood much of the movie but needed some translation. Turns out the movie was about Santa and the tooth fairy and a group of imaginary characters. Really. We flew all the way to Israel to watch a movie about Santa. Not atypical for living in the U.S., slightly more unexpected for living in Israel. I have a strong suspicion that L was likely the only kid in the theater who knew who many of the characters were. Meanwhile, L lost a tooth last week and she told me "I know there isn't such thing as a tooth fairy, but there are moms. I expect money underneath my pillow when I wake up." Kids these days.
Tonight we head out of town to stay with friends we made through baseball for Shavuot. Really looking forward as I'm sure it will be both a meaningful experience for us and great fun for the kids. With all the Shavuot prep and learning, A has done a great job connecting Passover and Shavuot. And in what I'm sure will become an instant hit in Jewish households across the world she has taken to singing "No, no, no, don't let the dog go."