Finding myself in the Middle East

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beer and Burkas

I was changing a particularly vile diaper of Coco-pop's creation and dreaming about a toilet that trains toddlers all by itself (because. how cool would that be?) when Coco-pop drew her knees to her chest abruptly.

"Do not do that, sweetie," I said sternly. "Ima needs to finish cleaning you."

"But z'not tznius!" she retorted, around a mouthful of pacifier.



We definitely live in Eretz Yisrael. I know this because all around me the buildings are made out of white stone, I purchase my milk in a bag, and my 2 year-old just informed me that changing her diaper is really not very tznius.

Being that Princess will be five this year, I have been thinking a lot about getting her into Bais Yaakov.

Now, I am a firm believer in judging things for myself. I never take other people's word for it. About anything. I know a lot of people who left this country for red-bricked-er and milk-in-containers-er pastures, claiming to be afraid of the Israli School System. Honestly, I never had a kid in the Israeli school system, and I refuse to judge it until I have experienced it for myself. Nothing is perfect. There are plenty of problems with the schools that I went to in the U.S. I guess it's all a question of the lesser of evils. And to decide which evil is the lesser, I need to experience both.

But then I get scared. Becuause maybe the devil that you know is better than the one that you don't know and all that. I am not sure how to respond to claims that the diaper changing thing, really Mom, is kinda not tznius, donchaknow. And I know it's something that she is repeating without really knowing what she is saying exactly, but that's the point. It's in the air here. And while tznuis is laudable, (even when it freaks me out that Princess refuses to wear socks because "when I run, you see my legs, Ima!") it also comes along with other things. Like this black and white attitude. It's either good or it's bad. Nothing is in between. When I know in my heart that most of the world is gray. I have a neighbor who punished her daughter for undressing her doll because "it's not tznius," and she thinks that the word "naked" is a 4-letter word. (Even though it's 5 letters. You know what I mean.) I don't like that. At all. But is it better in New York, where the kid sitting next to your kid watches TV all day, picking up subtle messages and a 3-second attention span, and sharing these delights with your child?

Remember when we actually wanted to be adults, and be in charge of decisions?

Don't know what I was thinking.

Although I don't really need to worry about getting into Bais Yaakov in the end, dear internet. Because this morning, while strolling between the isles of the very crowded makolet, Coco-pop turns to the woman next to me and informs her, "I like beer. I like to drink the whole thing up."

Because the other day, she asked for some of Outdoorsman's dregs, and I gave the can to her, figuring she'll never ask for it again. She liked it. Very much, in fact. So I do not have to worry about getting into Bais Yaakov, if the look on that woman's face is any indication. Because with honesty like that, it doesn't matter how tznius my daughters are, we aint getting in.


nmf #7 said...

That last part cracked me up :D

But seriously, I agree with you. No school system is perfect. Many friends of mine are due to leave Israel as soon as their kids reach school age- but my family has decided to stick it out here. And you gave the perfect examples to exemplify that. Thank you.

Mystery Woman said...

It's so beautiful that it's in the air, and you're right about the black and white attitude. But if the parents are aware of the gray, the kids pick up on it eventually. So much of who we become comes from the home in which we were raised.

JerusalemStoned said...

I do feel like a happy home=happy kids, so it sounds right. I guess we just have to be constantly vigilant.


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