I learned a lot this past week. Even though we are definitely getting the hang of our normal routine, we are reminded frequently that we are still learning the subtleties of the culture. For example, this morning when I dropped my daughter off at gan, the teacher smiled at my daughter and said “Boker Tov, Chodesh Tov!” She looked over at me, and told me matter-of-factly that it is Rosh Chodesh today. I responded that I was aware of that, and said my goodbyes. It seemed like an odd encounter. Did she think I did not know it was Rosh Chodesh? Why did she feel the need to make sure I knew that?
It was only a few hours later when I received a WhatsApp reminder from Gan saying that tomorrow will be the special Rosh Chodesh lunch and don’t forget to wear a white shirt. Ah! That was it! My daughter was not wearing a white shirt this morning. I knew to send my older girls in white shirts, but I did not realize they have the same expectation in gan, too. Lesson learned - white shirts for everyone on Rosh Chodesh.
Another interesting fact I have been figuring out is the school bathroom situation. On multiple occasions, my daughters have come home and told me about the lack of soap and toilet paper in the bathrooms. I went out a bought hand sanitizer and gave each girl a pack of tissues for their backpacks. I instructed that if they ever needed it, they had the supplies necessary to use the bathroom in school.
What I did not realize was that I should send the girls with wipes and hand sanitizer when they go on tiyulim as well. I did not really think about the bathroom situation on a hike in the wilderness until one of my girls got home from her first trip. Her report was that they did a ton of hiking and that there were no bathrooms. My other daughter goes on a tomorrow; we will be better prepared for that trip!
Last week I also gained the confidence to pass my bus card up to the front. Since I am usually with a stroller, I enter into the middle of the bus where there is space designated for wheelchairs and strollers. On newer buses there are rav card readers at each entrance and spread throughout the bus. On older buses, however, there is only one card reader next to the bus driver. I got on two of the older buses last week and asked someone to take my bus cards up for me. Both times the people helped without hesitation. Feeling more confident with this new strategy makes going on the older buses less of a stressful process.
My last lesson of the week, but maybe my most essential one, was learning not to leave the house without my watergun. There is a cat that has been living in one of the planted areas in our building. This small cat is not afraid of clapping or stomping like most of the cats I have encountered around here. Instead, he is overly “playful” and likes to jump on people as they walk by. Due to my past experiences with cats, I would rather cats stay as far away from me as possible, to say the least. I definitely don’t want them jumping on me or on my baby in his stroller. With a little practice, we have learned how to spray the water gun at the cat to scare him off when we are coming. It is quite a sight to be seen when I take the kids out of the house. As soon as we open the door, we do a quick check for the cat with watergun in hand. Then one of the girls stands guard and sprays the gun as necessary. When the coast in clear, we hurry up the stairs. But we are not just being scaredy cats ourselves - we have escorted multiple guests up and down our stairs with waterguns shooting. So, along with my phone, wallet and keys, I now bring a watergun with me when I leave the house.