Now that the piano smells of perfume, the living room of soap powder, the bathroom of toothpaste and the car of pipi you’re sure to feel at home when you return. Tintin prepared the house for you. If that kid wasn’t as cute and lovable as he is I’d throw him in the cage with the rabbits. I got around to thinking if only I could predict his next move… It doesn’t matter what part of the day it is, he has a phenomenal capability to make his most trivial requests impossible to fulfill without a confrontation which he has to win.
Take for example a normal afternoon when all is at peace with itself…
“Rotze le’ Dandan”.
So we walk to Dandan. Inches from knocking on Dandan’s door:
“Im naalayim , Aba”.
I can think “Why didn’t you say so” but I dare not say it. We start to walk back.
Of course without shoes you can pull the “can’t walk” excuse. Back home the search for his shoes starts.
“Et eleh” he says, happily selecting one of Suma’s old pairs.
“These are too big for you”,
Still I don’t budge
“They’re too big and you’ll break a leg”.
I know he won’t let go but I can’t let him wear a size thirteen shoe. “Offer him a way out of this potential deadlock or he’ll argue until the day the shoe fits…” I tell myself – the child is a size ten now so this could last a week. Desperation yields innovation so I come up with:
“Bo ninal sandalim”
He walks to the sofa – a sign of surrender, but you know he won’t let you vanquish him that easily. No sooner are the sandals on his feet
He’s right he’s got two pairs. Who the hell gets two of the same for a two year old? So I switch, then comes the “Im garbayim” part. That usually does it. Having satisfied his insatiable hunger for getting even we start off to Dandan again. Half way to Dandan
We turn around and walk back, get the bicycle and start again.
Finally we get to Dandan having taken the desired path, with the bicycles, wearing the right sandals with the selected pair of socks. He now gives me that impish “That wasn’t too hard was it?” look and knocks on Dandan’s door. Dandan open the door.
“Rotze lavo elai, Dandan?”
[@#%%]… All this just to have Dandan come to our place? So they go to our place. Somehow Dandan is always ready at a moments notice, wearing the desired set of shoes, immediately hopping on his bicycle. Off they go on a path which they always use. Back in our apartment:
“Dandan bo nir’eh Jimbo Halytzan”,
“Lo rotze Jimbo, rotze habayta”.
“Lech habayta, ani lo haver shelcha!!!”.
So off Dandan rides.
This has its advantages under the circumstances. I don’t know why the clock is moving so slowly these past few days, but that’s what’s happening. I guess its the waiting that makes time go backwards. I’m sure that if it was Hana Zemer (or whatever her name is) that was supposed to return in two days, time would fly like the wind. However looking at the dark side of matters won’t get me anywhere. Thinking positive is what the situation calls for. With so much time on my hands (an hour every minute or so) it seemed like I could start working on establishing a daily routine in this place. With a routine in place, it would be possible to predict what will happen next. Oh, what a great idea. Just imagine a “predictable Tintin”. We would be able to know in advance that he would bath himself using hand cream to protect his delicate skin from the shampoo he so generously pours into the water in the water. More than that. We would know that to prevent the hand cream from irritating the scratches he got from the rabbits (the rabbits again) he would squeeze antibiotic ointment into the water, and to make sure it smells nice he would add a tube of toothpaste. Imagine knowing all that in advance…
That seemed like quite a prospect. What a wonderful home coming present for you, Galyupe. A Tintin you can be one step ahead of! Although I had two months to complete the task it still required some planning. As you know two months could fly by in two days, depends on the circumstances.
Where does one start? The first thing would be to establish a ‘lights out’ policy. If I know what he knows about when the end of the day is, I’ll have a starting point to start rolling back his schedule from step by step. One could very well ask “why not start when he wakes up?”. Because “Lo meirim yeled!!!”, that’s why. So I had to start getting him used to a bed time routine.
That seemed very straight forward. After the third or fourth “Dandan cycles” he was beginning to show clears signs of fatigue. I got him home quickly and he showed just enough resistance to show that he had gone down with a fight, but nothing that would require me to backtrack in any way. That with him is a sign that he’s ebbing fast. I pushed a chocolate pudding cup down his throat and put him in bed. In five minutes he was asleep. Phase one had been so easy. I put him to bed and he went to sleep. I had my baseline from which to start working back. Triumphantly I walked down the stairs to the living room. Tintin followed me…
“Lech lamitah ve’ani avi lecha mitz”.
“Lech shev al Yeela”.
This is probably a part that I missed I thought. I’ll give him his juice and he’ll fall asleep on Yeela. After the juice was gone
“I washed you yesterday”.
“Rotze amabatia [amarti lecha]”,
The latter phrase is optional, depends on his mood. “Amarti lecha” is a sigh of belligerence and the ritual will be somewhat more complex when that happens. So its off to the bathtub. As we’re out of hand cream, tooth paste and antibiotic ointment I see no reason why I should not let him bath himself. I forgot the TOILET PAPER. A whole reel of it. I also forgot the “dezitin” but who care about that. Do you know what a bathtub with a completely shredded reel of toilet paper does the water?… So I sat there with him for another half hour happily straining the paper from the water. He thought it was a great game with the strainer. “Aba ta’aseh li geshem…”. I didn’t know if to leap for joy due to his ingenuity, or decry my having to clean up after it… His head is now full off little paper particles tat look like lice eggs. I guess we’ll have to get used to it.
Out of the bathtub,
I pick one.
I pick that one.
“Lo et zot”.
I revert to the original one, and he’s happy.
“Bo lamita Tintin”.
Damn the kid’s vocabulary. He wants juice but he knows that he’s already used that term to get all this started, and he’ll never repeat himself if he can help it. He knows that repetition is the key to a parent’s learning and he sure as hell was going to do his best to throw me off as much as possible. Like a fool I get him the juice.
Well I guess that’s fair, you can’t really quench your thirst drinking through those baby lids with the tiny opening. I took off the lid. If only I had caught the glint in his eyes… The way he grabbed the cup told me I’d made a mistake but it was too late. He raised the cup to his mouth much too fast for him to catch the swell of juice coming his way. Obviously some of it spilled on him.
“Aba, tirhatz oti.”
“Loooo Tintin, ANI LO ERHATZ OTHA!!! Bo tahalif hultza”.
Ten or eleven shirts a day, what’s the difference?… He doesn’t object to this compromise which is an encouraging sign. A few minor arguments about cheese sticks and bagels with lox and he’s ready to review the video again. This time its “Barny”. As he watched the video he fell asleep. So I was off by an hour or two but now I know his routine:
– Goes to sleep for five minutes
– Wakes up and walks downstairs asking for juice.
– Takes juice and goes to lie on Yeela. Yeela is guaranteed to be in front of the TV at that hour.
– After the juice he’ll request a bath.
– During the bath he’ll come up with cause some damage that will require an additional half hour of attention.
– When the bath is over there will be an argument about which pajama to wear. Having selected one he’ll always ask for the other and then revert back to the original (remember, always).
– Wearing the clean pajama he’ll ask for juice again. At this point the pattern is not clear. I know that bringing the juice with a lid will prompt him to ask you to remove it with known consequences, What I do not yet know is what will happen if I refuse to remove the lid.
– Having removed the lid, the floor is open for him to spill the juice on himself and ask for a second bath. Apparently this request can be turned down.
– Return him to the living room where he will fall asleep in front of the video..
I’ve done my best to try and characterize his behavior during a short period of time, which I would still like to select as my starting point for the on going observation. At this point I can only say that this might take a little longer than I thought. Not only have I barely managed to cover one hour of his day, that one hour could unravel in more than one way. Consider for example, that Melush walks in while he’s in the bathtub. As far as the above review is concerned, all bets are off. This would be a completely new scenario.
As the minutes slowly tick away I’m home alone with Tintin. Osmo and Yeela are at Moran’s birthday party which started six (!!!) hours ago. Osmo started out by going to Gabi, then soccer, then Tal Levi and on his way home decided to drop in on Moran’s party. Suma as usual is with Gadi, working on whatever it takes to stay out of the house. It sure doesn’t take much for her to fly off the hook. Anyway I hope I can keep my mouth shut for another 48 hours. Now is not the time to apply pressure.
Galupe, I’d best start wrapping up here. This has to get to you before you leave the house and that’s coming up pretty fast. Have a safe journey back, and we all miss you very much.
Tintin, Osmo, Tal, Yeela, Butch.
So it finally happened. One of these phone calls you hope will never come. Anyway now we’re dealing with it. The good news is that staying at home with the kids is much easier than staying home alone. It’s amazing how well they’re taking this, in such a matter-of-fact manner. So Ima is gone for a few days…(just like dad does from time to time). I thought things were really working out for the best under the circumstance, until this morning when Tal swallowed her head gear and Yeela was attacked by the sugar bowl.
As usual they woke up at seven o’clock. I went into their room after hearing Tal’s watch chirping. I started doing that just so that they feel that someone is there with them all the time (for whatever its worth). The fact that Tal had swallowed her head gear was immediately apparent. She wasn’t wearing it, so where else could it be. However the child was behaving quite normally so I quickly asked her if she was feeling OK, having swallowed it. She smiled shyly… Oh, so you didn’t swallow it, so how come… I took it off, Yesterday I completed her sentence fro her. She stuck with a story that she removed it an hour earlier which was probably correct. Relieved that I didn’t have a crisis on my hands I went downstairs pretending to know what the next step in the morning ritual was. When I remembered that I was supposed to get dressed I returned to the men’s bedroom where Osmo and Tintin where still asleep.
The girls got dressed and went down to the kitchen for breakfast. I followed a pair of shorts and a pee later. When I entered the kitchen Yeela was standing next to a pile of sugar…
In spite of the desperate situation I gathered my wits and greeted her Hello sugar babe. It jumped at me from the closet… was the response. Not only is the child struggling to function with her mom gone, she now has to fear the vampire sugar bowl. I opened the door and there it was, Yeees…, I attempted to coax her along with the story. It quickly turned out that grabbing the sugar bowl by the lid was not a good idea. After sweeping the sugar we wanted to wipe the floor with a wet rag. Fortunately all the rags were wet, as they were used to wipe the bathroom dry after Tintin and Mel’ush washed it the night before.
The reason I didn’t mention Tintin’s and Mel’ush’s washing ritual is the fact that it was dwarfed by what they did with the Tahina Ronit had sent. I was upstairs playing with Osmo in the bathtub when I heard the girls screaming Tintin nooooo, melush loooooo.They must have set each other on fire, I thought, nothing else would grab the girls’ attention when 90210 was playing. I made sure Osmo was OK with the black ranger having drowned the blue ranger and rushed downstairs. Its amazing how many things you can think about in the short period of time before you pass that turn in the stairs. Where there’s fire there’s smoke. I thought. If I can’t smell it then they’re probably just beating each other with hammers…, not too reassuring either, but then I reached the midway point in the stair well.
Things were very wrong down there I could tell. Tintin was wearing a gray sock on his hand. He never wears a gray sock on his hand. The sock was partly gray, partly off-white. Then I looked at Mel’ush. She was all off-white. Hair, face, hands, shirt. Funny, I thought I just took them out of the bathtub. I was sure I rubbed them dry, and they did put on a clean set of clothes. It struck me that an hour earlier Yeela was eating Tahina (which Yarden’s mother had prepared)… And then I saw it. The Tahina bowl with hand and fool prints in it. The situation was not good. Tintin did seem to have the upper hand. He was doing the painting, using the Tahina drenched sock to work on Mel’ush. Mel’ush was quite submissive at that point. However, in her condition, should she decide to change her mind, we’d have a walking Tahina stamp stomping through the house. Take her home NOW I ASKED Yeela, who responded immediately, prepped on by a healthy sense of guilt. Tintin’s condition was fully reversible. All that was required was a quick visit to the sink. The gray sock was beyond help and so was the Tahina. Tal somehow rubbed the remains into the carpet. I guess we’ll begin to smell them in a few days.
Now how did we get here? Oh yes, mopping the floor from the sugar with the wet rag that was used to dry the bathroom which the Tahina dancers had flooded the previous evening. With the sugar behind them the girls packed their bags. drank their tea and went to school. I now had anywhere from five minutes to half an hour before the boys would wake up. I tried to make all the required mental preperations for the boys’ arrival and for the rest of the day. What were the good ladies asking about yesterday?, I tried to reminisce. They talked about food. Well there’s plenty of that. We’re down to sixty eggs but that’ll last. They talked about clean dishes. I wash dishes so that’s OK. So what else was there. The LAUNDRY. Tintin’s underwear, that’s the next crisis coming on fast. It was eight o’clock in the morning. I couldn’t leave for the laundry room, since I didn’t know where the quarters were. I couldn’t ask for change because I have no money (remenber the previous letter?). So the laundry room was not an option. No big deal, I’ll hand wash a few pairs of pants and underpants. That worked out just fine. I hung them up to dry, and with a great sense of accomplishment waited for the boys to come down the stairs.
The boys are easy in the morning. By nine thirty I had them both in their kindergartens… and drove on to work for a few hours… Yeah, yeah, they ate a little bit of cereal before they let. Icouldn’t possibly send them ‘yeveshim’. I did have to do without marshmallows this time (may god forgive me). We ran out of marshmallows yesterday, after we got a whole bag the day before. There is this sticky, icky, gooey rice-crispies-with-marshmallow bar that Tal thinks she knows how to make alone. For the past two evenings I’ve been melting half bars of butter and half bags of marshmallows in a pot with her. This is followed by pouring half a box of rice-crispies into the vat and stirring until there isn’t a single grain of crispies that is not sticky, icky and gooey. You then attempt to flatten the freshly created muck in a butter lined pan. That’s like trying to put scotch tape from you fingers using the same two fingers. Anyway, that’s where the marshmallows went. Fortunately the boys didn’t miss them that morning. It’s just these rare foods that are scarce in the house right now. As far as the basics go we’re flooded. As a matter of fact I have the rabbits living on our food so that I won’t have to throw too much away. Did you know the rabbits like Suffi’s spaghetti? And its fun to watch too. You spread it on the top of their cage and they pull it in strand by strand munching as they go… If only the great cooks of the neighborhood knew where their fine dishes were going. I hope I’ll be able to cook the rabbits one day and make it up to them.
Milk supplies are the only thing that people don’t evaluate correctly. They think that a gallon is enough for a week. I don’t have the heart to educate any of them After all they do see to it that we have three chickens, ten pounds of potatoes and a bowl of rice everyday. So It seems that tonight I’ll secretly sneak out to the Safeway store and get some negligible items like milk, zip lock bags, ice cream and a few other items that they always check for like tomatoes. A house without tomatoes is like a man without a dream, they’ll tell me, and it only costs me fifty cents to appease them so I’ll get some tomatoes.
In case you haven’t noticed I grab a break here and there to write a few words. Right now I have to go find Osmo and get him ready for his soccer workout. If I recall correctly Yeela left for her match a few minutes ago. I think Itzik took her, but I’m not sure… Osmo is gone from the minute he gets until the evening. He stops by from time to time looking for an ‘artik’. As much as I would like to give him one, I can’t stand the thought of giving one to all his friends who know they can’t get one in their own homes. The way things work out is that Tintin usually ends up with the ‘artik’ (as long as Mel’ush) isn’t around. He then walks the paths of the Case followed by a trail of Osmo’s drooling friends. Osmo seems not to care too much. He knows he’ll get his share once he shakes his friends off his trail. Tintin is becoming a chain ‘artik’ eater. As much as one tries to space out his artiks, four in one afternoon seems quite natural.
Suma and Gadi spent the afternoon trying to burn down the house. They call it melting crayons, but what it really is a chance to play with fire. They melt the crayons in order to make candles. Candles they’ll never create, as the crayons are not wax, but whatever they are, there are melted crayon stains all over the place when they’re done. Of course you can’t see it all through the smoke in the kitchen, Luckily the battery in the smoke alarm is dead.
It is now eight o’clock in the evening. Tintin has taken one more artik from the freezer. He has a conflict between the pacifier and the artik but he seems to know that the pacifier will no go away. The trouble starts when the artik that I have decided would be the last one for the day is over. Od artik, at least he smiles when he asks for it. I stupidly refuse harshly. Immmaaaa, is the immediate response. As though I didn’t know that was coming. Well at least he hasn’t had any Tahina scenes this evening. They’re all after a bath, and as far as I’m concerned they’re done for the day. By the way how much ‘Flex’ conditioner was there in the plastic bottle? Tintin came out of the bathroom smelling really good, and the bottle is now empty. A small price to pay considering yesterday’s alternatives.
Osmo gathered all the toys after he finished his bathtub. He later asked me where Tintin had thrown his ice-cream stick so he could put it in the garbage. He’s really mature for his age, and a very good boy – Hamseh. Hasn’t complained once since all this started.
It seems that on this side of things we’ll manage to hold on quite well, give or take a few broken things, some rotten food here and there, a smelly carpet and some missing laundry. May your ordeal be as easy as ours.
We miss you very much Galyupe.
Tintin, Osmo, Suma, Yeela, Bushi.