Rotze Le-Dandan

Dear Galyupe,

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…

“Aba…”,

“Ma Tintin?”,

“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.

“Al hayadaim”,

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”,

“Imaaaa’leh…”,

Still I don’t budge

“They’re too big and you’ll break a leg”.

“Yeeeelaaalik…”,

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

“Et hashorim…”.

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

“Rotze ofnaim”.

We turn around and walk back, get the bicycle and start again.

“Bashvil Hahoo”.

We backtrack

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.

“Aba…”,

“Ma Tintin?”,

“Rotze Le-Dandan…”.

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…

“Rotze mitz”.

“Lech lamitah ve’ani avi lecha mitz”.

“Basalon”.

“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

“Rotze ambatia”.

“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,

“Rotze pijama”.

I pick one.

“Et hasnia”.

I pick that one.

“Lo et zot”.

I revert to the original one, and he’s happy.

“Bo lamita Tintin”.

“Ani Tsame”.

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.

“Bli michse!!”.

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.

Layla Tov.

Tintin, Osmo, Tal, Yeela, Butch.