We baked three cakes last week. Two cakes were for my daughter in second grade who was the student of the week. She waited all year for her turn, and this past week was finally it. The third cake was for my daughter in gan who celebrated her birthday on Friday. Although she was really our Tisha Baav baby, the gan asked if we could celebrate early due to all the summer birthdays this year. Due to all the excitement I had a lot of preparations and learning to do in order to be ready for each of their special weeks.
Being the student of the week means doing something special every day of the week. On Sunday, she needed to preform a science experiment in front of the class. She was supposed to explain the experiment in Hebrew and then complete the steps to show her class what she learned. We chose a simple experiment that demonstrates the movements of a tornado in nature. We gathered the necessary items and rehearsed the experiment. We were asked to send in a video along with the experiment. When I typed into youtube, all I got was English versions of the experiment. Obviously there had to be a way to find Hebrew videos. I translated my search and typed in Hebrew. Ahah! That was the hack I needed. All the videos were in Hebrew and we found the perfect one without any speaking. Although her Hebrew has come a long way, my daughter was hesitant to get up and present in front of the class. Since we found a youtube video already, she asked if she could use the video as the presentation and then perform the experiment herself. The teacher was super understanding and made a small speech to the class about how difficult it is for the teacher to speak in English. She explained that she could only imagine what it would be like to present in English She told the class about the modification. My daughter was happy. The experiment worked well. Day one was a success!
On Monday, the student of the week teaches a song to the class. My daughter knew which Mordechai Shapiro song she wanted that had only Hebrew words. We found the link, and the lyrics, sent it to the teacher and we were ready. Day Three we sent in candies for the class. Again, easy! Wednesdays is a day off for the teacher, so there are no activities for the student of the week. On Thursday, we sent in papers and stickers to make thank you notes for one of the faculty members in the school as a chesed project for the class. My daughter chose the yoetzet who has personally been so supportive and helpful throughout this hard, transitional year. And on Friday, we sent in the cakes. When she finally came home on Friday afternoon and announced that everyone liked the cake, and all the other goodies from the week, I sighed a huge sigh of relief. We made it through successfully!
The gan party came with a bit more headaches and learning experiences. Each birthday has two students. We were paired with a very nice Israeli family who had a son turning five this summer. I asked the teacher what we needed to bring to the party and she handed me a typed out list of items. The teacher gracefully went through the whole list with me and made sure I understood what we needed to bring. It was lengthy! Each family needed a cake, napkins and candles. We also needed to bring a present for each child and supply lunch for the class. The lunch list could be divided between the two families. I called the other mother on Sunday and asked if we could divide up the list. She asked me to send her a picture of the list and that she would get back to me. I did. She didn’t. All I got from her were pictures of the gift options she wanted to bring for the class. I received pictures of bubbles, key chains, and a bunch of other chachkes. I responded that she could choose whichever she wanted, but , again, what should I buy for lunch? Nothing in response. Finally, while I was heading to the supermarket for my Tuesday shopping, I texted her a list of the items I knew I could buy. My list included pitas, bread, chummus, cream cheese, vegetables, cups and plates. The rest of the items were things I was afraid I would not know which ones to buy. So, I bought my list and kept the receipt in case we needed to compare spending later.
On Thursday, I got a text from the mother telling me that we did not need half the items I bought, and that the teacher just requested a new list. She said that the kids do not really eat the pitas and chummus even though they were on the typed list that the teacher had carefully gone over with me. I responded that I had already gone shopping and would bring the items I bought. I could not make it back to the store at that point in the week. The mother agreed to buy the remaining items. We baked our cake for the party and my daughter had specific ideas of how she wanted it decorated. She asked for sprinkles on the center and mini meringues around the outside. She carefully selected colors and placement of each meringue. . We were all set for the party the next day.
Friday morning, our house was buzzing with excitement. My second grader carefully packed her bag with all of her student of the week items including her two cakes. My husband took the big girls off to school. I could not wait to hear how her day went. The birthday party was called for 9:30, so we gathered all of our items and headed to gan. We made it with time to spare. We even got to peek in and enjoy watching my daughter be the chazanit for her davening. Then it was time for the big event. The morah instructed us to find seats. We did. And then I realized that the other parents were sitting up front next to their son, we did not know where to sit or what to expect from this party. The other parents happened to have had children in this gan before and were very prepared. We found our appropriate seats. Just then the teacher took out our cakes. The boys cake was professionally made with an edible sticker of super heroes and his name on it. Ours was homemade. My daughter was proud of her decorations and happy with the way it turned out. I
The rest of the party was long, but I think my daughter had a good time. The party was complete with singing, dancing, candles, party games and more. At the end each student was called up to the birthday children to give them a bracha. It was very sweet. Then she announced that the parents had to do it too. Of course, I was asked to be first. At that point I was so tired and frankly not in the mood to be embarrassed by fumbling through my bracha so I said it in English. I am sure the poor birthday boy did not understand a word I said. Then we went outside to the play area for the cake. Although mine was not fancy, the kids all seemed to enjoy it. The assistant pulled me aside and told me that I did a great job and brought just the right things to the party. She made me feel so much better! It was definitely hard being the newbie for this one.
On the bright side, we got some practice for our cake party which is only 35 days away. But for the real thing, we will need way more than three cakes.