the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spiderkid in the tunnel

Rimonit and I encountered our first bullies the Shabbat before last - two girls (they seemed to be about 9 years old) who got their little kicks making fun of a 1-year-old (yes, RP) and trying to keep others from using the playground facilities in the spot they had chosen to hang out in. As a foreshadowing of the future of Israeli citizenry, or something like that, it was kinda depressing.

This particular playground is often pretty empty, and Rimonit really likes it because it has a spectacular combination of tunnels + slides (with a moderate enough incline that she can climb up them as well as slide down) + stairs (which she is beginning to climb with her feet rather than her knees).

When Rimonit got to the blue tunnel, she found herself hampered by a girl who was just sitting there, doing nothing other than blocking the entrance. I gave her a minute in case she didn't get right away that the Kid, who was standing patiently, wanted to go through. Then I said, very politely, "You're blocking the path. Do you think you can move over?" She gave me a look that combined pure insolence with surprise that I would dare address her directly and a kind of resentment that I was seriously asking her to do something other than sprawl out in the area she had colonized. She did eventually get out of the way, though quite slowly. I pity her teachers.

But that wasn't all. RP got out of the Mean Kids Tunnel and made her way around the yellow tunnel and the slides. Then she decided to climb back up to the blue tunnel - but, lo and behold, the obnoxious girl had doubled herself, and both of them were doing nothing together and had no intention of changing that. When I asked them to move (still politely, though it had already dawned on me that such silly Americanisms as basic human manners were lost on them), they grudgingly budged about half an inch from their position in the center of the tunnel (the part that a person who wanted to get past would have to walk on), apparently imputing to RP certain Spiderman-like qualities that, to the best of my knowledge, she does not possess. I pointed out that it was a bit hard to walk on the curved side of the tunnel, while mentally urging the Spiderkid to drool all over their hair as she clambered across them to reach the other side.

Then came the rather bizarre (not to mention slanderous) making-fun-of-a-1-year-old part. As she climbed over them, I heard them chat to each other in gossipy Mean Girl voices as they attributed a poopy smell near the tunnel to RP. Then they tried to bring me into it. "Lady! Lady!" one of them called out. "She made kaki in her pants like a baby! (giggle giggle). Go change her!"

I don't even really get what that's about. I mean, she IS a baby! And anyway, she didn't do it, I swear! I changed her right before we left the house, and her diaper was remarkably poop-free when I changed her again at home. It just seemed like the kind of thing they might say about someone in their class so they thought it would be just as piercing a blow to RP. But who can truly understand the mind of a 9-year-old tunnel-blocker?

In a totally unconnected update, Rimonit will be taking her first judo class tomorrow afternoon...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shoes! (for a day)

(Photo: The little remaining evidence of those first shoes - both of them.)

Today I bought Rimonit her first shoes. As you may have guessed by the previous sentence, in the loooooong time since my last post, she has started walking - and she is really getting the hang of it, if I do say so myself.

On erev Rosh Hashana (end of September this year), I noticed her standing on her own for significantly longer periods than usual, like maybe two minutes or so. I got the feeling that walking would come soon, but I didn't realize how soon; I saw her take a few steps on her own two days later, as Rosh Hashana was ending.

Although the process leading up to those first steps was extensive - from cruising and pushing chairs around to standing on her own (which she started in August) and gradually increasing her standing time - once she took her first steps, there was no stopping her, and her rate of improvement was incredibly rapid. The first week or two she took at least as many falls as steps, remaining largely unperturbed by her frequent tushy-to-floor contact. Warren dubbed her the drunken sailor, but day by day her sea legs gave way to land legs, the amount of steps she took increased until I stopped counting them, and her walking-to-crawling ratio shifted in favor of walking. It's only a few weeks later, but she has become a master walker, and she took well to her shoes after only about 30 seconds of wondering why her feet were suddenly so heavy.

And so it goes: from crawling infant to toddling toddler in the space of a mere month.

UPDATE: The day after I wrote this post (I wrote it Sun., Nov. 9), one of her shoes fell off her foot and disappeared forevermore (I only noticed after it was already gone). It was apparently some combination of the shoe being too loose and the velcro being too weak, giving us something to look out for next time. I wasn't going to put up this post at all, seeing as how it got dated so soon, but finally decided it still makes a bloggable, er, footnote to the Story of the Smunch. In the meantime, she is back to being shoeless (though we'll fix that soon enough)...