A Boy’s Life

After almost five months here, we finally have a sense of normal and dare I say routine. Well as much routine as a family of young children in a foreign country can manage. Here is a basic outline of the boys’ day:

7:00am: wake up time (except we rarely manage to be awake at this time)

7:15am: oh, no! get out of bed! get out of bed!

7:20am: Yitzi, get dressed! Shalom, Yitzi can’t play now it’s time for school!

7:30am: Yitzi comes downstairs dressed (mostly) and has breakfast. We still have American style breakfasts of oatmeal/cereal. From what I understand Israelis eat exotic dairy products and salad and such. Shalom is hopefully also dressed and eating. I am happy if at least one of those activities is occurring. Mordechai has yet to have a real routine. Sometimes he is awake at this point, sometimes he sleeps through the excitement.

7:45am: Yitzi heads to school. The official start time is 7:30 but after a month or so I discovered almost nobody is there at that time including the teacher (rebbe). I aim to send him in the middle, not the first boy and not the last. We live about one minute away from his school. Israeli kids are known for being more independent and so Yitzi would be mortified if I walked him to school.

8:00am: Shalom’s school begins. Again I have discovered most boys don’t come on time. For my own sanity I try to get him out of the house by 8:15. His class is a minute and a half from us. Just recently I started letting him walk by himself to school though 4 year olds are a little more prone to wandering about on their way. We’ll see…

SCHOOL: Dan or I will probably post more later about their school. It is a chareidi (ultra orthodox for want of a better word) school run by the Zilberman family. The boys’ rebbes do not really speak any English so all instruction is in Hebrew. Many of the boys in their classes come from English speaking homes which has been good and bad for the boys. It has eased their adjustment but slowed down their language skills.

Shalom goes to school Sunday-Thursday from 8:00 to 1:00 and on Fridays until 12:00pm. Yitzi has school Sunday-Friday from 7:30-1:00 and on Saturdays (Shabbat) from 2:00-3:30pm. Yitzi is actually really happy to be going to school on Shabbat. It is not too long, includes a recess and treats, and is generally fun for him.

1:00pm (on a typical day) The boys come home from school with all their triumphs and grievances and we eat lunch. If we were Israeli we would be having a large meal probably involving schnitzel. We are Americans though and are currently in a melted cheese sandwich rut. Dan comes home from yeshivah for a lunch break around 2:00pm.

2:30 Yitzi’s Hebrew tutor comes. During this time I am often working with Shalom on his reading homework from school. Yitzi also spends some afternoons working in a math book that we brought so he could keep up with his class in Chicago.

Chugim – So with school getting out so early here, what is a mommy to do? Enter the chugim industry. A plethora of after school clubs/activities (chugim) pop up every fall to entertain, educate, and enrich. I limited the boys to two chugim that they both attend. On Sundays we go to Mommy and Me Music with Ima Debbie (not me, phew!). A very talented mother leads the kids through songs and stories mostly in English. It has been a great release for the boys with comfortable and familiar songs in a welcoming fun environment. On Tuesdays they go to a cooking class run by a sweet teenage girl out of her home. This chug is mainly in Hebrew but the boys love it. I am not totally sure why. They make cookies, challah, blintzes, even a salad. I think the girl just has a good way of making all the boys feel special and helpful. Or maybe it’s just for the cookies.

6:00pm We are heading to dinner if I am lucky.

Wishful thinking bedtimes – Shalom by 7:00 and Yitzi by 8:00. I don’t know if it’s the new baby or being in Israel but my firm grip on bedtimes has disintegrated.

Between Channukah and catching many (though blissfully not all) Israeli viruses we haven’t been getting out of the Old City too much lately. Before then we would go out once or twice a week to do errands or explore. The boys love going on the bus or train. They are not so fond of all the walking our car-less urban life includes. Before winter really set in we would also spend more time playing outside particularly in the square by our house. I assume once the days get longer again we will be drawn back outside again.


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