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…Because Israel — 2

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Today I took the three kids to the beach. As we arrived home, Yonah was waiting for us, with a bag full of toiletries.

“I want a bubble bath, but since Protective Edge began I’ve been only taking super quick showers. It’s embarrassing to run for shelter all soapy, wearing only a towel… But it sure starts conversations with your neighbours!”

Now we know how Yonah meets people.

 

Loving Them

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I spent yesterday morning trying to get Yonah get over his first major hangover while also trying to help my daughter figure out alternative feminine hygiene products.

On Friday there was a birthday party at our congregation, that involved several February birthdays. Yonah was one of the birthday people. Another was a lovely Russian, Gavriil, who, like many of our Russian friends, likes to use vodka to celebrate. Good, quality, very nice vodka. Not too much, just enough to have a good mood, and get Yonah tipsy. We really can’t blame him for Yonah trying some other alcoholic drinks, not knowing that sticking to vodka would have been his best bet. So my boy came home delightfully tipsy, and I learnt a whole lot of the content of certain corners of the Internet than I ever thought I would. Our Yonah is a chatterbox when slightly intoxicated.

Saturday morning he learnt how to cure a hangover. The first step is: make sure there is Aspirin in the house where you are planning to wake up. We never have Aspirin at home. Aspirin makes me and my biological offspring sick. So I always forget to buy it. The older boys of legal drinking age have a little first aid box of their own, but they, too, were out. Of course it being the Shabbat nothing nearby was open to get the magic pills. So lots of water, eggs and orange juice was his therapy. And he wanted to know what he was babbling about the night before. He was also very apologetic and wondering if I was eternally embarrassed of him.

“You must regret adopting me.”

Oh how wrong he was. Before I could have explained that to him, his sister stormed through the door with her son on her arm, and as a greeting she said, “Dad, you have to help me pick out some menstrual cups!” After I found my voice after the initial shock, I just reminded her that she was just at her other family’s, where, you know, she actually has a mom and an older sister, and she could have stayed longer and ask…. and then she said, “I couldn’t possibly talk to them about topics like this!”

So I went on to making a very strong espresso for Yonah, find the last Advil Ultra Forte for him, while giving Bella ideas about what to Google, and listened to a rant about uncomfortable tampons, the never properly working tampon and condom dispensers–to which Yonah added that there is a tampon dispenser in the guys’ bathroom in this one club he has been with Yehiel–and that they never have change when you need it and did I know menstrual cups came in purple?

There I was, on the couch, between two teenagers, who have turned my world upside down, and who believe that I can fix all the hurt in their lives, simply because I’m dad, and I must know the best remedy for hangovers, even though I’ve never been drunk and I must know what the best feminine hygiene products are on the market, even though I’m a man. If I had the kind of power and knowledge they ascribe to me, I could make sure wrestling stays an Olympic sport!

Of course they are mad at me when I just don’t understand how hard it is to be a teenager, when I don’t want them to do something or when I want them to do something–sometimes the same thing in the span of a few hours. Of course they think I know nothing and I’m seriously outdated and hopelessly old, but they graciously forgive me for my shortcomings.  And then I find myself debating whether Mooncups or Diva cups are the better investment, and I find them curled up next to me on my couch as I read and they recover, and I am loving that they tell me about the weird stuff online, their desire to be crunchy, down to earth and hip mothers. I love it when they tell me their failures, and I love it when they stand up again and again. They think I did something to help. I didn’t.

They just let me love them.

A Missing Wheel

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Having a large family means that everyone has their own responsibilities that make life easier. It might be picking up the Legos after playing, or separating light and dark colours for laundry (I gave up washing whites only with other whites a long time ago), or cooking dinner. There are chores that are either rotating or assigned ad hoc. And then there are things that we just got into the habit of doing a certain way… by a certain person. Like it’s usually Yonah, who takes Noa to her Sunday dance class.

Since Yonah is in Canada now, I took Noa today. I enjoyed watching her, and I could even go in the classroom, and sit on a comfy chair. It has perks when your brother teaches dance classes. I was thinking, “Gosh, I should do this more often,” and then it hit me: I will. Because while Yonah is coming home from Canada soon enough, he won’t be in Tel Aviv on Sunday evenings. He will be away in Haifa, only coming home for weekends. Our lives, as a big family, will change with his life change of going away to study. And we will miss him. Not only because of all the things he won’t be around to help me, far from that! We will miss him, because he has become a very integral part of the family.

We haven’t been all together all that long. Some of the older boys lived with us full time only for a few months, yet we miss them all week till they get to come home. And HOME they come. Every other Shabbat or so I have all the boys home. All the kids, teens, Bella and her son, often her boyfriend Kirill… and we are together and then everything feels normal.

And He Is Abroad

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Yep. Yonah is now in Vancouver, BC as I’m typing this, with his boyfriend Yehiel to visit his family. He called us in the early morning hours (for us) to let us know that they are there safely, and put up in Yehiel’s old room… and Yonah has the top bunk! He told me that, his voice beaming with pride, like it’s the coolest thing ever. Maybe it is.

Just before Yonah left, he sat down to have a serious talk with Harel. He explained that while he was going to miss Harel’s first birthday, but he was going to bring him some awesome present to make up for that. To which Harel replied with “duckie”. So Yonah is on a duck hunt. 😀

The thing that cracked me up? The text I got when they landed in Toronto: “The Two Little Africans Are In Canada”. That cracked me up. Yehiel, as I said elsewhere, is of an Ethiopian family and Yonah is half South African.

Yesterday after Kevin dropped them off at the airport, he drove a big box of “stuff” up to Haifa to Yonah’s apartment there. He says it starts to look like someone could actually live there. 😀 In a few days I’ll be going up with more stuff, and then next weekend, after I get back from Hungary, I will take up the tea set we painted at Made By You. I’ll combine that trip with a hospital run, and finally, just before he comes home, we’ll fill his pantry. Yonah will have 24 hours before landing back home and his first class, and he still wants to do laundry at home. I mean home. In our home. Isn’t that sweet?

We thought Eli would enjoy having the room he shares with Yonah to himself. Boy, was I wrong! After the first night alone, he already convinced Nirel to share a room while Yonah is gone! So it seems, once again, rooms will be moved in my house…

On Wasted Talents

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We have been celebrating birthdays this week. Noah turned 19 two weeks ago, Yonah turned 18 on Wednesday and my cousin Arik  celebrates his birthday today, my sister-in-law celebrates hers tomorrow. That’s a lot of birthdays to celebrate, and it gave Nirel a lot of opportunities to practice his baking and cake decorating skills. He is doing really well in that area and he still thinks that’s the career he wants.

One of the gifts that Sam got from my brother’s family was a karaoke set. Since I got home Friday night just in time to join the party, I wasn’t really going to participate, just camp out on one of our couches. However at one point Sam exclaimed, “There are 6 Harel Skaat songs, Dad, you gotta sing them!” So I did. 🙂 What else can a dad do?

I ended up singing a few songs, and I did have a lot of fun.  I loved listening to my boys sing, and boy, can Sam sing! 🙂 He just told us that his parents wanted him to become a chazzan (cantor). He sure has the voice for that!

And that was when my brother made a comment that made me go all “What if?” What he said was, “If things just went a little differently in 1986-87, now Harel Skaat would be all giddy about finally getting your third album!” I kind of stroke back with saying that I would have missed Kokhav Nolad 2 because of the military, so my best bet would have been Kokhav Nolad 3, trying to dismiss the idea that  he was actually comapring me to someone I find super talented. Unfortunately, my brother being who he is, he went on to explain why I would have been perfect singing star material… only if things went differently.

Once I was a good singer and pianist, an overachieving runner, a talented scientist, a budding writer. All gone. Wasted talents.

That’s one reason why it’s so important to me to give these children and young people the opportunity to grow and be able to cultivate their talents. So they don’t become like me: the epitome of wasted potential. Because in this world potential doesn’t matter, just what you actually make out of it. I could have been a pop star, an Olympic athlete or a great scientist. But I’m not, and that’s what matters in the end. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if… But it’s pointless.

Maybe in another decade I won’t be feeling like such a loser, because I will have succeded in raising children, who fulfill the potential in them. Whether it be a talent in decorating cakes, in fashion design, in finding the Theory of Everything or carpentry, they, hopefully, won’t look back with regret over wasted talents.

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