Thursday was the first day of Pessach vacation. Yes, I know, we still have over a week until Pessach actually begins, but here, in Israel, vacation starts very early. To fill the time, the school system creates mini camps called kaytanot. The truth is, my kids are always asking for more and more days off, so I assumed they would opt out of the mini camp and enjoy the special time off. As the whatsapp reminders kept rolling in over the weeks leading up to the vacation, I was having second thoughts. Maybe I should just sign them up and then they can have the option of attending. After all, the program is free. What do I have to lose?
I clicked on the link to sign up my school aged girls first. The completely Hebrew website was intimidating and the form needed to be filled out in Hebrew. I stumbled through the first few screens of the application, and then it froze. I tried this a few more times and was not able to get further in the process. I realized that signing up was going to be a bit more complicated that I had first thought. There was an option to call a phone number and have someone assist with the process. I called. The lady reluctantly took my information and said I would be getting an email confirmation. I was skeptical that we had actually signed up, but said thank you and hung up. I never received the email. I chalked it up to the possibility that she did not understand my email address or something of that nature.
The gan online form was a bit shorter and only took two attempts to sign up. I was smarter this time and wrote all the answers in English. Despite the English, the last screen said I had completed the forms. I was not convinced that she was actually signed up either. I figured if anyone actually wanted to go to the kaytanot we would confirm then.
I was shocked and impressed that all three of my girls were adamant that they wanted to try the kaytana on the first day. They excitedly packed their camp bags and happily walked to the bus. I still was not sure if they were signed up to go, but we decided to try. When we got to the older girls’ school, the teacher in charge said she did not recall seeing their names on the list, but that they can stay. She said she would sign them up from her end. I was grateful. I kissed my daughters, waved goodbye and walked out. As we walked back to catch our next bus, I had a bit of a nervous feeling. The conversation was all in Hebrew. Did I understand correctly? Were they really allowed to stay without being signed up? Can I bring them back the next time? I was not confident I understood what she said.
Next up was my daughter in gan. When I walked her in, I confirmed that she was signed up. The morah assured me that she was. Unlike the older children, her kaytana was a full day. I do not know why this had not dawned on me until we were walking into her gan, but I only packed her an aruchat eser. I have no idea why I assumed she would be provided a lunch like a regular school day. This was not a regular school day. I asked the morah about meals. She replied in her fast Hebrew that the program provides lunch, but we have to bring the ten oclock meal. I thanked her, kissed my daugther and was on my way.
That uncertain feeling returned to the pit of my stomach. ‘Wait, did she say they do or don’t give lunch?’ My daughter only had a sandwich and fruit. She will be so hungry if I misunderstood the teacher. My lack of confidence is odd, really. While standing in front of both women, I understood them. I was able to communicate my needs and receive answers to questions. After each conversation I felt relieved by their answers. While standing there, I was totally sure of myself and was confident that I understood what they were saying. I did not need them to repeat anything or get someone who spoke English to translate. I was satisfied with my Hebrew conversation. But, then a strange phenomenon kept happening. I realized that it actually happens all the time. After I leave a store and wonder if I understood the return policy. Or after I schedule a doctor’s appointment or ask a medical question. While I am there I understand. After I leave, the doubt creeps in. I wonder if I really understood. I wonder if my communication was clear. I just feel unsure. Does this happen to all new olim? Or is just me? Why do I have this worry? I really do not know. All I can say is that I hope that one day I do not get these feelings of doubt.