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Today was the day I'd been dreaming of during much of August and the morning started out beautifully: Before bidding a content Ya'ir farewell on the first full day at his new preschool, I got the unexpected good news that the staff had unanimously decided to start helping children wipe their behinds this year.
Now my husband and I had only to relieve ourselves of the twins at their new day care, where we had alternately spent the past couple of days. Those days the nearly two-year-old twins had frolicked and laughed, delighting in the new toys and friendly stimulation. They'd already gotten to know the place over the past year, since I'd brought them with me most days when picking up Ya'ir.
It was only this morning that Kinneret realized that her big brother, whom she'd been asking about off and on, wasn't going to suddenly appear. Strike one.
And it was only this morning that my husband and I truly passed the duo over to relatively new pairs of hands. Strike two.
Our approach to the door was strike three, and we were out of there - to the very audible soundtrack of the wailing Kinneret and Yaron.
THE FIRST WEEK of August (which conveniently had five weeks this year) we were set: The twins' day care limped on until August 3. Super Savta and amazing cousin Anat were committed to taking care of all the kids during the final week. For the second week, we could fork over insane money for a kaitana (basically a day camp).
Here in Israel the norm with private day care is that you pay for August even though the day care is ostensibly on summer vacation. (Who gets vacation for a whole month these days?! Not me.)
But the ironic thing is that most day cares aren't really shut, rather holding these day camps - at three times the price of a normal week's child care.
"Daylight robbery!" my husband blustered, quoting a Hebrew expression. But since I figured out I'd make about NIS 50 more by working rather than taking unpaid leave, off they went.
I'd already committed to taking two weeks off work to be a full-time Mommy and dreaded the thought. To soften the blow, I decided pay through the nose for another week of day camp for Ya'ir and just take care of the twins.
At a loss for things to do with them, I decided to keep their daily eating/sleeping schedule as much as possible and merely fill in the blanks with fun. Always good to have a plan.
The twins were cute and jolly, happy for the rare one-on-two attention. I brought them home, they ate and slept well, and so did I.
"Wow," I thought, "this motherhood thing definitely has its advantages."
At the close of the first week I realized that far from the crying and whining I'd thought it would be, I was actually enjoying myself.
AND THEN WE all flew to Crete to spend seven intensive days with my family. Very graciously, my parents and big brother flew out when they realized there was no way we could possibly handle the chaos of a transatlantic trip with all three kids. I sent the whole family a modest proposal: Let's take a house together somewhere in Europe or Turkey instead.
My parents, big brother and his wife and their two kids, aged four and two, generously suffered the trip instead. Aside from my parents, I hadn't seen much of my family for over two years. I was very curious to see how the cousins would all get along.
By the time we made it to our villa in the picturesque little village of Roussospiti, a little more than an hour from the Heraklion airport, the kids were zonked. A few hundred meters from the driveway the rental car's tire popped. The next day one of the kids had a poison scare (more on that in a separate column) and later in the trip my glasses snapped in half. Not to mention the debilitating sudden ear thing my husband had and his eye infection that wasn't getting any better. And finally the extra seven hours we spent in the Heraklion airport while waiting for the Arkia charter to arrive to take us home.
None of that matters, however, because Ya'ir can now speak English!
I've always spoken to him in English; he's usually responded in Hebrew. Upon meeting the American family, however, he began almost effortlessly retrieving vocabulary from years of bedtime stories. He was also aping his new crush - Anjali, his four-year-old cousin - in everything she did and said, for better or worse. (When we returned from the trip, Ya'ir announced that he was going to marry her and that Kinneret should marry her little brother, Nikhil. As for Yaron, he'll marry Ya'ir's previous crush, his Israeli cousin Ma'ayan. Glad that's taken care of.)
Currently Ya'ir is attempting Anjali's Midwestern accent. And most shockingly, he is now able to pronounce an American "R".
He's turned a page in his language skills and now frequently speaks to his siblings in English. This vacation was the huge booster shot he'd been needing and gave me the same euphoric feeling as when he finally stopped using diapers.
And so this week on his first day of preschool I was proud of him on two counts: one, for jumping right in and playing with his new classmates. But most especially for looking up five minutes later and saying, in English, "Ima, you can go now. I'm fine."
The writer is the mother of twin toddlers and a three-and-a-half-year-old.