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:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mens will be mens

My kids have some interesting grammatical quirks. Kinneret gets gender completely mixed up, which may or may not be better than referring to everyone and everything, animate or not, as female (as she had been doing for a while) and may or may not have to do with the confusion engendered by the fact that the word "he" is a masculine pronoun in English but a feminine one in Hebrew. And I recently noticed that both Rimonit and Kinneret consistently use the past continuous tense instead of the simple past (I suspect Kinneret picked this one up from Rimonit, though I can't be sure). So on a good day, someone wored or drawed something, while on a normal day they "were wearing" or "were drawing," regardless of whether simple past would have been the better choice.

I don't give them grammar lessons, but I have been on a correcting spree on the past tense issue lately. I've been lucky that so far, they generally take my grammatical corrections pretty well and repeat the sentence correctly - even if they do still get it wrong the next 100 times.

Speaking of time, Kinneret understands "yesterday" to be a generic word for "past," while "tomorrow" is a generic word for "future." And "a different time" could be anything from 5 minutes before to when she was in Ima's tummy, from next Pesach to some indefinite moment in the near or distant future. I feel better about that issue though, because Rimonit used to do the same thing but grew out of it, so I have reason to hope Kinneret will do the same.

But back to gender pronouns. I took R & K with me to the supermarket today before we picked up M, promising that they could each get a roll and chocolate milk and telling them that they could hold it in the store but couldn't eat it until we paid for it. We were at the last stop - the meat counter - and the girls, who had been quite good throughout, were getting itchy to chow down. I asked for ground chicken and ground beef, and when the man behind the meat counter put one of them in front of me, Kinneret, desperate to get to the cashier, impatiently told me: "She gave it to you already!" (The not-too-subtle subtext was, of course, "Yo Ima, you moron, why are we still standing here?!")

At this point R saw fit to stand on her big-sister podium and bestow a grammar lesson of her own: "Kinneret," she said in her best didactic voice, "for boys and mens we say 'he.' For girls and womens we say 'she'!"

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hanging up her tail

Big news on the Kinneret front: She has hung up her tiger tail! That's right, after about a year of being a tiger, she has announced (repeatedly) that her roaring days are behind her.

The turning point came around Purim time. I had shown her the tiger tail and ears and explained that we were going to put black stripes (= tape) on her orange outfit, and she was all excited about it - until the time came to actually wear it to gan for the exciting day when they all go in their costumes. She totally freaked out and didn't want to wear the tiger outfit or go to gan and was just a total wreck who repeatedly said she would rather stay home. Since it was a Friday, we let her; it was one of those cases where it was clear that what the ganenot and maybe other parents would think was the right thing to do just did not seem right for our kid. Even I couldn't help feeling like she should go to gan and have fun (I even offered an hour or two later to take her in, making sure she realized what she would be missing - but no go) but it would have meant forcing her in to do things she probably wouldn't have cared about anyway.

(If it were Rimonit, though, I definitely would have made her go because I know she was really looking forward to dressing up in gan and seeing what all the other kids were wearing and that she would be upset about not going even if she had a tantrum or something and claimed not to want to go. In fact, Rimonit couldn't understand why Kinneret wouldn't want to go and kept asking her about it, but Kinneret seemed quite happy with her decision.)

Anyway, after that Kinneret just didn't want to be a tiger anymore. She didn't even wear her tiger costume for more than the five or ten minutes between when she was ready to go to gan and when we gave in to her tears and let her stay home. She was a bee instead (fortunately, I had picked up a bee costume at Target when we were in the States around Halloween time, so we were good to go), and since relegating tiger-hood to her past (she does still sleep with a tiger figurine and enjoy her plethora of tiger books, though, so she hasn't completely renounced her feline friend) has alternately taken on the identity of a bee and of Eliyahu Hanavi - who, in case you were wondering, likes to hide under Kinneret's yellow blanket, ghostlike.

Going in for the kill

Warren got the girls new sandals over Pesach, and Rimonit is very proud that she has a buckle on hers and knows how to open and close it. Today she reported to me what seemed like every girl she had seen in the past week or so and whether or not they had buckles on their shoes. (Kinneret would interrupt here to say: "They're not shoes, they're sandals!")

In addition to quickly figuring out how to buckle her new pink sandals, Rimonit has also shown herself to be extremely good at reading between the lines and picking up exactly on the one detail that you didn't say (maybe because you thought you could leave out of the explanation, just forgot to mention it or didn't even realize it would be seen in a particular way).

The latter was the case right before she underwent an evaluation for placement for next year (going into first grade or doing a second year of kindergarten, which is not uncommon here and is viewed similarly to doing another year of preschool in the U.S. instead of heading straight into kindergarten), when she started asking me about whether or not she was going to go into first grade next year (I had prepped her for the possibility of staying a second year by telling her that some children go to first grade after kindergarten and some children go to kindergarten for two years).

I hadn't been sure what, if anything, I should tell her about the evaluation, but since she asked the question right then I tried to say as diplomatically as I could that the evaluator (who she knows from her current kindergarten) would play games with her and ask her questions and help us decide. I thought I was being vague enough but Rimonit immediately went in for the kill, asking: "So if I get the questions right I'll go to first grade and if I get them wrong I'll go to kindergarten again?"

I was totally floored and really didn't want her to think that. I ended up essentially telling her (and repeated it in various ways over the next few days, so I hope it sunk in) that there were no right and wrong answers because the whole point was to see what was best for Rimonit, so whatever she answered would be a good answer because it was her answer and would therefore help us do what was best for her.

I hope that was the "right answer" for me to give, and remain kind of horrified yet impressed that she came up with that question in the first place.


I have also noticed that very recently Kinneret has been asking some thinking questions that are more along the lines of the sort of thing Rimonit would pick up on, like on the first day of Pesach, it was Kinneret who asked why we said "hamotzi lechem min haaretz" even though the food we were saying a bracha on was matza, not lechem (bread). Must be the influence of Eliyahu Hanavi rubbing off on her. (And if you don't get that, see post above.)

Ani backpack!

Moriya has been combining words more and more - it's hard to believe how much she's talking. Her latest favorite combo is "Ani [me] backpack!" since she has now decided she needs a backpack just like her sisters have. She even puts it on herself (okay, not exactly the right way, but still) and puts her water bottle in it.

She knows both "ani" and "me," and is a particular fan of "mummy," which means both "yummy" and "tummy." She is also a momma's girl, if only in the sense that she likes her pajamas ("mommas!") - especially the warm winter ones (no longer in use), since those are easily identifiable. (Though we had to put a shirt on top to keep her from unzipping them in her crib). As for her actual mummy/momma, I'm still "Ama" to her.

She has also taken to dolls within the last few months. She sometimes tries to feed her doll from her bottle, and this morning I heard her shushing a doll. I guess she must be picking it up from gan, since her sisters haven't been so into dolls recently.

She has also become more aware of her toileting needs. Though in the long run I know this is likely to make it easier for her to be toilet trained, in the short term it's kind of annoying when she wants to be changed every time she pees or announces a poo half an hour in advance. We have taken to requiring evidence before agreeing to change her, lest we run out of diapers within the day.