Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
(This is what I originally wrote and I'm posting it now to clarify yesterday's abbreviated post.)
I miss David being in a school environment where Hanukkah is celebrated.
I don't miss Hanukkah gifts for the staff.
The truth is I don't think there is anything wrong with presenting teachers and other staff with a token of appreciation, although I'm conflicted over whether a group collection or individual presents are preferable. But I think it's a problem when cash gifts are expected, moreover when large cash gifts are expected. (One friend gave his son's rebbe five hundred dollars!?)
And don't give me that nonsense that there is nothing wrong with a rebbe accepting such a gift if parents give it of their own volition and there is nothing the school can do about this. When I worked in camp we were forbidden to accept any tips from parents and it was understood that violators would be fired. (In my two summers I never heard of anyone taking a tip.) While public school employees where I live are permitted to receive presents, they are limited to gifts worth twenty five dollars or less. And I can tell you that the vast majority of gifts are worth a fraction of that. And just in case the policy isn't clear, at the last PTA meeting the principal reiterated over and over that parents are not expected to give gifts, than any gifts must be less than $25 and that there is really no reason even to give that much (and that a homemade holiday card is perfectly fine).
But yes, I miss David being in a school environment where Hanukkah is celebrated.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
From Lancelot Addison's popular volume on Moroccan Jews, The Present State of the Jews (London, 1675):
In time of Prayers none are permitted openly to spit, belch yawn, or blow the Nose. All of which they do in great Secrecy in the Synagogue, when they have occasion. Neither may they spit, or any such thing, to the right hand or before them; because of the Angels, which have made those places their Situation in the Synagogue.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
The main message is that MO families are suffering from a financial crisis, in part due to the tuition burden. There is also an accusation of kiruv deception, but this is of little interest to me from my vantage point. Furthermore, I think it detracts from the more important message of the video. (In fact, while I'm not at all a fan of kiruv deception, I think this video is itself deceptive in blaming the woes of MO BTs on kiruv deception.)
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
It's not like David doesn't enjoy books. He's been surrounded by them from day one. (Although the truth is he prefers to be read to rather than to read independently.) Maybe because we have a small library at home he doesn't appreciate all the books housed in the library. In any case, I was still disappointed that I couldn't transmit to him my own love of libraries. (As an aside, while I think that the internet is an unparalleled research tool and can help people tap into unimagined horizons, I think that children's reliance on it is fostering a generation that lacks the most basic research processing skills and is unable to digest large amount of text, critically or otherwise.)
Maybe I'm too old-fashioned? After all, as far as I could tell David was not at alone in his preference for the computer in the library. Far from it. Perhaps instead of spending all that money on the new library the town should have just opened up an internet cafe for kids?
Last week the babysitter took Ora to the library for the first time and weather permitting she will take her weekly to participate in a special program for babies. Maybe there is still hope that the products of my own bibliomania will find an appreciative inheritor.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
David does not deal well with transitions and this should have factored into our decision to switch him to public school. This consideration should have been given even more weight since this is just a trial year and it is very possible he will have to undergo another transition come next September if we are unhappy with public school.
I'm not sure why, but for some reason this issue didn't factor much into our deliberations over whether or not we should switch schools. Part of me believes that children--even those with transition difficulties--are much more resilient than we give them credit for. They frequently undergo many transitions without adjustment difficulties but it is easy to overlook these adjustment-free transitions. Perhaps we thought that the potential benefits outweighed any transition problems? For whatever reason, this objection was pushed aside.
It is still too early to gauge how his new school is in general and in specific how his transition is proceeding. The truth is that at first glance it has not been a smooth transition and it is still hard for us to determine if he is happy. Last year he loved school. He looked forward to it every day and he couldn't wait to return after a vacation period. This year, however, I don't sense that same excited anticipation.
I've asked him on a number of occasions if he likes his new school and other occasions--and I realize this was a dangerous question--if he likes it better or worse than his old yeshivah. He always answers that he liked his yeshivah much better (and at first he wanted to know when is going back), at which point my heart sinks down into my tuchus. But when I ask for an explanation, he says that his lunch in public school is "nasty" and he misses lunches they served him in yeshivah. "Ok, but aside from lunch, do you like your new school?" He continues to respond in the negative, at which point my heart drops to my toes (even though by now I can predict his answers). He tells me that in yeshivah they had two snacks, in the morning and in the afternoon, but in public school there is only one snack. Ok, and besides lunch and snack? Well in yeshivah they had recess in the morning and the afternoon, but in public school only once a day. And gym period in public school isn't fun (it's a formal phys ed class rather than the glorified extended recess he is used to). Ok, so besides lunch, snack, recess and gym, how do the schools compare. "I don't know, but the lunch in public school is nasty." Sigh. So he is really fine in public school and he is just nitpicking about lunch, etc., or is he really unhappy overall and the only way he knows how to express it is by complaining about lunch, etc.?
So maybe he really isn't happy? Or maybe this shift in attitude was inevitable anyway as last year he was in pre-school and first grade is a very different environment. Who knows if the attitude he expressed last year would have continued had he remained in his yeshivah? Maybe it would have even been worse than public school! Indeed, the first grade class in his yeshivah is much more formal than pre-school, e.g., the children sit at their desks all day and it seems much of the day would have consisted of didactic instruction and individual assignments. Although his public school is very rigorous and academic--perhaps too much for our tastes--the classroom is modeled on some modern, fluffy educational ideas that permit the children greater freedom and variety throughout the day. Maybe he would have chaffed too much had he remained in the confines of the yeshivah's traditional classroom?
Even though I don't sense any excitement exuding from David regarding his public school, I do sometimes see signs he is enjoying it. For example, while he is having problems with math, he constantly come to us and randomly rambles some addition or subtraction equations ("do you know 4 + 4 = 8), or counts in multiples or additives (10, 20, 40, 80, 160). And every so often he "tests" me by asking ridiculous question like what's "one thousand twenty hundred six" + 83. One free afternoon he even filled up some pages in a little notepad with equations . . . out of his own volition. He showed it off to us and explained he did it so that if he forgets an answer he can look it up. He also rattles off various facts and concepts he learned in science and social studies. Finally, more and more frequently he throws out Spanish words he is learning. (His school is very strong on foreign languages.) Just this morning he suddenly listed all the colors he knows in Spanish.
So maybe all this does demonstrate excitement on his part, just in a more mature way than I am used to from pre-school? (But I am really not sure if he is genuinely excited to be learning Spanish or if he is trying to impress me, as he knows that I love it when he uses Hebrew and Russian.)
To be continued . . . ("Second Guessing")
Update: While davening this morning he asked me to teach him the rest of Ashrei (he only knows the first few lines). This is the first time since he left yeshivah that he has been willing to learn more davening, which I think is a good sign and hopefully not an exceptional occurrence. I should note that Shabbat is a different story and he is constantly learning more davening, specifically how to "finish off." He knows most of anim zmiros already and he said it in shul a few times.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
1) Home schooling
2) Private tutor
3) Talmud Torah
David's public school subscribes to some new-fangled, post-modern, fluffy education theories that play a large role in determining the classroom experience. I'm not sure if I agree with all the theories, but hey, who cares . . . it's free (click here).
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
David used to be fascinated with the answering machine. I remember the time his teacher left a message and he would stand there listening to it over and over again. Was there actually a person inside the machine? It was the equivalent of the kid who thinks there are real people inside the television box. (I wonder if kids still think this with our modern flat screens?)
He also didn't--and still doesn't--understand the limits of the telephone's capabilities. One time we were speaking on the phone and he started talking about something, all the while assuming that I could see what he was talking about. Just yesterday Kinneret eavesdropped as David spoke on the phone with his friend A. from the confines of our bedroom. (He likes to talk in there behind closed doors to preserve his privacy.) David complained to his friend that his knapsack stinks terribly. (Let that be a lesson to him so next year he doesn't let an entire summer pass with forgetting every night to hang up his wet towel and bathing suit.) "Here A., smell it," he offered his friend as he placed the phone next to his knapsack.
* * *
Today I called up a friend and her daughter answered the phone. I couldn't believe how old she sounded. All I remember is that about seven years ago I was working on a big project with her mom and she--six years old at the time--would call and interrupt us every three minutes. It was pretty annoying, but what did I know? Now it's David who has mastered the telephone, calling me every three minutes. I have an insurance company on one ear and a doctor on the other ear and now I have to use my feet to answer David's calls on the cell phone every three minutes because he wants to know why I'm still at work.
(As long as we're on the subject of feet I must relate this cute story. A few weeks ago we were lying in bed together and I asked David to add twelve and five. It was taking him a long time to get the answer and I was about to tell him, but he told me to wait, removed the blanket covering him and proceeded to use his toes to help him add above ten.)
In the mornings he likes to call Baba Dora and he puts her on speakerphone as he walks around the apartment. Thank God he no longer dials 911, but he's figured out how to use the caller ID, which can be just as dangerous in his hands.
Finally, his penchant for basic reading does not couple well with his ability to use a phone. This morning he got the phone number for Kids in Action from a birthday invitation and called them to find out if he can also make a birthday party there. Then he used the number for a barber from an advertisement in his camp calendar and called to make an appointment. Imagine all the power he yields with a mere telephone. Before I know it he'll have more dangerous tools at his disposal, like a driver's license. But then again he may not wait that long, as two weeks ago he climbed into the front seat and tried to put the car in gear . . .