Monday, June 3, 2013

The Mrs. Klein Syndrome

When DH and I came to look at a house which we were thinking of buying, a neighbor who shared potentially 'our' driveway came over and greeted us. She was chatty, friendly, kind - a perfect shared-driveway neighbor. She introduced herself as Sarah Klein.

We ended up buying the house and Mrs. Klein brought us quite an expensive welcoming gift ( some china from an overpriced local joint, but nonetheless) and reiterated her welcome. Soon after we moved in, the Kleins built a tall fence for their back yard. I told DH it was to keep our kids out. He said, it was a common thing to built and had nothing to do with our move.

The honey moon lasted for quite a few months. After I had a baby (5 months or so after we moved to the block), Mrs. Klein made us delicious chicken for Friday night. Her husband came to our baby's birthday party.

They were the perfect neighbors, until DH tried to park in the driveway. Mrs. Klein commented that she needs access at all times, so we have to always park inside and they'll park closer to the street. ( they even gave us their car keys, so we can pull their cars our and in whenever we needed to use the driveway).

Then there were the Klein kids, who had a hard time saying hi. Not Mr and Mrs Klein who'd always greet us with a " hello" and " how are you". Mrs. Klein would even be the first one to greet my mom at the grocery store. Our daughters were in the same class in school but play dates were scarce.

The Kleins never invited us for a shabbat meal (and albeit they had weekly psalms reading for the ladies in their house, one of my friends invited me for the readings, not Mrs. Klein) and DH said they have a big family so it's hard to have company on shabbat.

With many gentle signs ( including a 'privacy fence' the Kleins built after we built a deck), in time, even DH realized that the Kleins weren't really happy that we moved in next door. They were delighted that Mr Abdullah moved out (our house's previous owner).

The syndrome fully manifested itself after DH parked his car on our side of the driveway one alternate-side-parking morning. As Mrs. Klein enjoyed parking her car in the middle of the driveway, she was quite tiffed that she had to squeeze into her share of Brooklyn-shared-driveway. She spoke to DH regarding his poor parking skills to which he replied that he parked on his side of the drive way. Mrs. Klein tried to throw her weight around, inluding "do you want to start with me?" bit, which was very out of character for the 'baalat chesed" (charitable woman) reputation she had.

After this, I was convinced that Mrs. Klein baked chala with a bracha, said a book of psalms every day, and had psalm readings in her house because she was superstitious, not righteous. Our lukewarm relationship became cold. But through all this, Mr. Klein would always (and Mrs. Klein frequently) greet us with a harty hello.

I haven't seen Mrs. Klein in over a year. I can't say I miss her. But I've thus far had a privilege of living in the same building with 2 neighbors who, as a family, exhibit the Klein syndrome. The husbands always greet my family with a hearty hello, wives snob me (I'd say 'us' but I guess not greeting my husband can be part of one's religious observance) and seem deaf and mute. Their kids don't play with my kids. The wives end up being popular charitable women in the community (but their charity doesn't extend my family).

I think I have to thank my old neighbor for the great memories. So, as I greeted a local Mrs. Klein this morning and received 1/4 of a smile in return, I remembered the original Mrs. Klein and decided to dedicate a post to her.

Monday, April 8, 2013

We'll miss you, Dr. Sima

Last week, I've done something I do quite often. I fell asleep before the kids did. 45 minutes later, I tried to return to the world of productive adulthood by checking my facebook while still in bed.
After cutesy pins and re-pins, I saw a post that looked like a bad joke. My friend posted that she called Dr. Sima's office to make an appointment and was told that Dr. Sima passed away.
I read and reread the post, suddenly very awake.
Comments on the post seemed to express condolences but I still didn't fully believe it. Dr Sima was young. Well, middle aged young, but still young. She had kids who were a bit younger than me.

I've met Dr SIma 6.5 years ago. The first thing that was very obvious about her - she was very kind. She had a kind face. She was gentle with my baby. She didn't give the aura of Dr-knows-best. Unassuming, compassionate, pleasant and personable.
She always sounded concerned about the welfare of my kids. She always gave them ( and me) the attention we needed, no matter how many patients she had in the office or how late in the day it was.

The news of Dr. Sima's passing filled me with sorrow. And regret. This past summer,  a few times, I wanted to visit her with the kids, just to say hi. But something always came up - no car, a job. I felt there was always next time.
The regret mixed with the guilt that there is no next time is quite unbearable, too. I wanted to go to her with the kids and tell her that we remember her and her kindness, to tell her one more time that she was the best pediatrician we knew. Now I can only tell it to this blog.

Good bye, Dr. Sima. May your memory be blessed.
(Originally written on September 4, 2012)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sign of the times

A few days ago, my little daughter was playing with her toy phone.  I came closer to ask with whom she is talking.  She said she finished talking with her grandma, and now she is playing a game. She then pointed the phone at me and said "cheese, mommy!".
In case you were wondering, her phone can show cartoons, too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Another Milestone

You know how you wait, and wait, and wait for something and it doesn't come? So you stop waiting and forget about it. And when it finally comes, you are shocked, not knowing quite what to do with it.

I think that's what happened with Eh and baby teeth. She and her siblings watched Elmo talk about baby teeth and the 'grown up' teeth. They read books about it. They saw their friends and neighbors. I'm sure Eh anticipated a tooth or two falling out (I sure did and talked about it with Eh). But Eh's baby teeth stayed put and we all forgot about them.

Until tonight, when Eh was eating her favorite meal in the world, aka pasta with cheese and ketsup (bah). And all of a sudden she started crying that her tooth was hurting. My first reaction - we didn't do as well with tooth brushing as I thought we did. However when I asked to see which tooth was hurting, I realized it was a FIFO (first in, first out) right buttom tooth. I told Eh excitedly that she was going to lose her baby tooth. And Eh just started crying louder.

In the end, I bribed her by offering to sit in her bed at bedtime, and Eh stopped crying. And thus, a couple of days before her birthday, she got a shaky tooth. Yay!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Qutting Pacies Cold Turkey.

I was thinking about it today, as my kids tried to fall asleep, that it seems somehow unfair that an adult can make a kid quit something cold turkey. Especially when that's something as dear as a pacifier.

Conversely, I thought how nice it may be to 'help' my downstairs neighbor quit smoking or the neighbor down the hallway clean up from all the recreational activities. Just like that, cold turkey. Adult pacifiers are not so easily taken away... But I digress.

A couple of weeks ago I decided that my kids' upcoming 2 week vacation may be a good time to finally get rid of pacies. Because there really isn't a "good" time.

I've done it once, almost 3 years ago. It went pretty smoothly except I misguidedly listened to someone who felt bad for my tiny kids. I felt bad for my tiny kids, too. After all, they were mine. So after a couple of weeks pacy free, we started night time pacies. Except there is no pure night time. There are nap times, and bad mood times, and need to rest times, and defiant times, and just because times...I was waiting for my kids to voluntarily give up the habit. But though one frequently talked about it, the other one didn't want to hear about it. And the time kept ticking. Beginning of school, beginning of Sunday program, long vacation, short breaks, stresses and stressors. No time seems to be good. Then there was the dentist 2 months ago who said they've got to (especially one of them) stop. And a smug 23 year old at work who said she just did it...
Then, quite acceidentally, (who reads school calendars?) I found out that my kids have 2 weeks vacation.

I told both the kids and hubby about the start date. I was dreading it, neither one of the other parties seem to realize what was coming. And when it was bedtime, I recapped my speech about giving pacies to a local charity fund. Then, I politely took away 2 of my son's pacies and one of my daughter's. I kind of had to snatch her spare one, there is no sugarcoating it.

It seemed almost effortless for one of them. S/he said 'yea, I'm ready to give up pacies', reminded me maybe 15 times to give her/him the vitamins ( which normally we both forget), and went to sleep within 10 minutes.

The other one took it hard. First s/he wined. Then pleaded. Then demanded. Then almost threatened (to go and sleep on the couch). Then alternated between all of the above. After about 20 minutes that lasted hours, I manage to find a distruction by counting together first to 20, then to 50, then to 100. The quiet seemed promising. Then I started counting down from 100. And s/he remembered the loss.

The pleading and demanding was pretty hard. It took quite a lot of strength on my part. And this was not the first time I took something away from my child. But there was something so eloguent and desparate in that plea to get the pacy back, that minutes seemed to stretch to no end.

Finally, probably after an hour ( not sure, I lost track of time), hubby came to the rescue, at first quite unaware of all the drama. His presence worked to distract the heartbreaking sobs. After another 10 minutes of small talk and jokes everyone finally fell asleep.

In the morning they woke up the usual 6 AM as if nothing happened. I was waiting for some questions, comments, requests. None came. We survived day #1.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The massacre in Itamar

I find blogging is very much like exercising. You may be doing it fanatically for months, or even years. And then, you somehow break that routine and nothing can motivate you to restart an activity you used to love so much.

Basically, I stopped blogging (and exercising). And though many times I wanted to write a post about whatnots, I couldn't bring myself to sit down and write. And then, a massacre happened in Itamar. Young parents were savagely and cowardly murdered together with their 3 children-11 year old, 4 year old, and 3 month old. And their 12 year old daughter, who came home after a shabbat evening function to discover her parents and siblings murdered.

My heart aches and tears keep filling my eyes. I don't really have the words to describe all the emotions that are flooding me. How does one react to a horrific tragedy like this? What contributes to the anger, grief, shock - an infant and little kids who were slaughtered in their sleep? parents killed together with their young children/infant? Inhuman arab muslims celebrating horrible deaths of innocent Jewish children/family? news media ignoring this tragedy? news media dehumanizing the murdered kids and their parents as 'settlers'? the trauma of the surviving children who saw their mother and father and siblings in pools of blood?

I mourn for the murdered Fogel family as a mother, as a Jew, as a human being.
I know Gd will avenge their blood. And to find some comfort I must remember that we, Jews, are one and Am Yisrael Chai.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Always wear clean underwear

Ok. So this post isn't about underwear at all... Though that's what I thought of at the end of the day. How some people say that their mom's told them to always wear clean underwear when they go outside-just in case something happens and they have to go to a hospital where Not clean underwear would be noticed.

Anyhow. Today was one of those Sundays. The kids woke up a bit too early and by 10 o'clock I realized that if I don't get them out of the house within minutes, bad things would happen to an otherwise good living room.

"Within minutes' resulted in:
Eh wearing a decent outfit with her new sparkly 'special occasion' tights and hair, albeit in a pony with a headband, framing her face a bit wildly;
SiM dressed in matching clean outfit;
Baby wearing *new* turquoise/purple sweatsuit (with cropped pants!), *warm* pink panda socks, *extra warm* bright green jacket;
Self wearing a cute denim skirt (which sadly shrunk over the holiday season resulting in loss of both loss waist button and some of the length), beige t-shirt, and black velvet hat (which thankfully stayed on head with perfect hair coverage).
Favorite sister joined us in her favorite Sunday getup.

We were having fun in the park for about 30 minutes, sister/baby on baby swings, self and big kids on big kid swings. It was decently not crowded and thankfully uneventful (other than Eh's hair became even fluffier and the sparkly tights got one snag).

Then SiM decided to run from 'big kids' crowd to the 'other' :) crowd. And that's how I noticed that favorite sister is talking to someone else. That someone else ended up being a couple (now with child) whom I actually introduced and whom I haven't seen in 4 years.
We were delighted to see each other and meet our new additions.

Amusingly, Baby, who carefully chooses who may and may Not hold her (or even look at her), let my friend hold her and even didn't want to go back to me! Not so amusingly though, my friend pointed out that Baby's thighs were cold and I felt a bit embarrassed explaining that the pants were "cropped" and the socks should be pulled up like knee highs.

And after I went to my car I wondered about the irony of having 47 different headbands and a 8x4 container full of hair clips, pony holders and detangler while my Eh looked like a kid from a Yahoo commercial for hair products (the one before the parent discovered yahoo:)). And the irony of having lots and lots and lots of clothes to dress little Baby and then being caught dressing her in *cropped* sweat pants on a windy day, not to mention the rest of the color scheme. The irony of me telling everyone how much fun it is to dress up girls when in reality, in a crunch, a dressing a boy is a piece of cake. And of course, the fact that if the skirt doesn't fit, Don't wear it!

In the afternoon, I had a pleasure of meeting someone I haven't seen in 6 years. Thankfully, Eh's hair was pretty, Baby was dressed in one of her cute pink outfits with full size pants, and SiM still looked put together. I, on the other hand, still had The skirt on and exchanged the hat that fit for a head scarf which was more comfortable (hopefully, my hair didn't stick out from it like Eh's did in the morning). They were delighted to see me non the less (and unlike me didn't seem to gain 30 lbs).

My 3 loyal readers know that I frequently complain about my minivan because it's a mom-car and it makes me feel like, well, a mom. But not necessarily a glamour mom but a mom whom every sedan and SUV want to pass. A mom who needs to shlep lots of groceries in one hand while shlepping a crying child in another. A mom who hardly sleeps, doesn't have time to take care of herself OR her car... You get the picture.

Well, today I felt in part like a self fulfilling prophet and in part like a lucky woman who just forgot that it Always Pays to Wear Clean Underwear. Well, you know what I mean.