Finding myself in the Middle East

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Great Equalizer

"Turtle is a blah-blah-blah blah!" Princess shouted, exasperated when Turtle ruined fifteen minutes worth of puzzle time with one sweep of his chunky busy arms. She didn't say blah-blah blah, but that is what I heard.

"What did you say?"

She said it again.

"Is that Hebrew?"


"What does it mean?"

"Like..." she screwed up her face, concentrating. "It means, like, he's oatmeal. Like, soggy oatmeal. You know."

I didn't know. I didn't know what she was talking about. I told her so.

She rolled her eyes a bit. "It's like...oh, I don't know how to say it in English, Ima!"

And maybe I was tired and maybe I was thinking a little bit too much about my father and maybe I was feeling fat but when she said that, I left the room to cry a bit and maybe to eat a little bit of chocolate.

I always thought that when my kids finally learned Hebrew I would find it adorable. Outdoorsman on the other hand didn't like how the language sounded phonetically and dreaded the day they entered the Israeli school system.

In real life, Outdoorsman gets a kick out of our biligual kids, and I feel a knot in my stomach whenever I hear them speak in Hebrew.

Because of what it means.

It means that her brain, understanding a different way of expressing itself, will be wired a little differently.

It means that the first thing that jumps into her mind won't mirror mine, won't have us looking at each other with shared amusement, shared understanding, but with our own impressions of what really happened.

It means that my daughter will be in a situation such as the baby ruining her puzzle and she will think about something--an expression, most likely--in Hebrew, and it won't translate. I won't understand what she is getting at. Her being a native Hebrew speaker will cause a rift between us and I will never, ever fully understand her.

And that makes me cry.

And eat chocolate.

And even as I beam proudly at her, with her big girl packback and her brand new uniform, my heart is squeezed with fear. "Don't go, my baby," I am thinking as I smooth her skirt and fix her headband. "Don't go. Don't go where I can't follow."

But if I am honest, I can remember when Princess went to her first year of gan, which was English, and when she came home with an idea in her head that I did not put there, that was put there by somebody else (I do believe the idea was along the highly intelligent lines of "I'm gonna make this dolly dead because she is a mushy-tushy-pishie!") I had to go to bed early with a headache.

I know it's the job of every mother to know when to let go. I know that my fears are just an extension of every mothers fears as she opens the golden cage.

And gives her baby the gift of flight.

And, okay. We're talking about oatmeal. Mushy oatmeal. Which is so weird and I will never understand that applying to Turtle.

I'll never quite understand it, but I can know what I have to do, anyway. And I can know that I have to be okay with it. I cannot be uncomfortable with it, because it is a part of her. And if I am uncorfortable with it, I will be uncomfortable with her, hence creating the very rift that I afraid of in the first place. A self fulfilling prophecy.

I turned back to Princess, an idea forming in my mind. "Do you mean mushy like mushy cause he's...uh..."

She looked at me. "Like what?"

I lost the idea. Ah. "I love you, Princess."

She smiled, a questioning crease fading between her eyes. "I love you, Ima."

And that will just have to be enough to bridge any gaps.




proudtante said...

Thanks for the laugh and for putting into words what I couldn't do myself.

Now I will go cry about my sweet little boy who is going to become Israeli, just about... TOMORROW!!! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH

jerusalemstoned said...

Aw hon, I hope it went well.


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