Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Wise Woman of Jerusalem

There I am just sitting in a crowd. It could be anywhere, for a happy occasion, a sad occasion - doesn't matter. All I have to do is just sit there and people who know what I've experienced in the 18 years that I've been in Israel come over to me for advice. I'm actually quite flattered by the attention. Even social workers and psychologists have been consulting with me, for free I might add, about kids, in particular.

Woman #1: My son just got engaged to a girl whose parents are Moroccan. Any advice you can give us?

Me: Yes. Of course. Good luck. First of all, if they invite you over for dinner, you better not leave right afterwards. Plan to stay at least 2-3 hours minimum afterwards, or they'll think you're rude Americans.

Her husband mentioned they were going to meet them for the first time and were bringing wine for dinner.

Me: Oy vey. If you bring only wine, they'll take you for cheap Americans.You must go to a nice gift shop snd get them something nice for the house, even if it will end up in their daughter's home after she marries your son.

I based this on the times when my daughters' in-laws would show up at our house for dinner with microwaves, expensive flowers and chocolate baskets, good quality housewares, etc. Just wine and flowers won't do.

I also told her that they may try to lasso you in for an expensive glitzy wedding. They'll have 700 guests and you'll have 50-100. So tell them what you can/can't afford up front. They'll surely bitch about it but they'll get over it eventually.

Woman #2: How did you cope with the demands your teenage daughters have? Could you afford everything they asked for? How were you able to with 4 daughters?

She proudly introduced me to her daughter who was wearing a sweater she had gotten for her. I could see her daughter thinking - yeah, so you bought me one friggin' sweater.

Me: I couldn't and wouldn't. Between tampons, makeup, hair stuff for 4, it was impossible to clothe them in the stylish trendy manner they wanted, so I sent them to work when they were 15. Yes, I know about child labor. Instead of helping them with their homework, I steered them in the direction of working after school, so they could buy all the shoes and clothing their teenage hearts desired. All the ugly designer sports training pants and jackets with numbers on them were finally theirs.

Woman #3: How did you cope with their insolence? I'm fighting terribly with one of my daughters.

Me: When you have 4 daughters, the fighting is between them usually. Then I would retreat to my room and ignore them totally. I'd give them free rein and pretty much let them go and do whatever they wanted to do, except hitchhike all over the country. I'd go work overtime whenever I could and I then put locks on each of my daughters' closets, so the fighting would be kept to a minimum - even though they still managed to steal clothing from each other when the clothes were hanging out to dry or if they forgot to lock up their nail polish or eyeshadow and left it on their dresser.

Woman #4: How did your kids all marry Sephardim?

Me: Must have been all that Moroccan music I was playing when they were little kids, and all those Shabbat afternoon teas with old Mrs. Bouganim before I moved to Israel. They seemed to have copped the attitude that American boys were nerdy and wanted to be more Israeli than the Israelis.

Meanwhile, some of my kids are expecting kids themselves and since I'd been there 5 times myself, I could answer their questions and worries, like telling them I won't let their mother-in-laws in the delivery room, even though they are begging them to see the birth. I, for one, would not want to see my daughter-in-law giving birth. Feh. It's one thing to be with your own daughters, another your son's wife. But my son has got a few years to go until he brings me home a daughter-in-law. And, yes, they can have sex throughout their pregnancy if they're having a normal pregnancy and even though they laugh and are horrified at me for telling them this, I'm equally as horrified at them telling me they're too scared to have sex while pregnant! How did my kids become so Third World? I worry that they'll take epidurals and won't nurse.

But while I helped another pregnant kid move from one apartment to another, she called me up afterwards to thank me and to tell me her hubby wanted to shower with her in their new flat after they finished unpacking at 1 in the morning. I hope you did, kid.

No comments: