In case you haven’t picked up on this already from reading my rantings, I am one of those mothers who constantly worries about her children; safety, health, nutrition, behavior, academic achievement, social assimilation, cleanliness, weather-appropriate clothing, etc.
Aside from the language factor, making Aliyah wasn’t much different for me than moving from New York to California, South Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee or Ohio when it came down to my children’s welfare. There are always the worries and challenges of whether or not the child will fit in socially and academically.
A few weeks ago I met with Yisrael’s ulpan teacher and her assistant to discuss his progress. I went expecting the worst because I perceived his apprehension to speak Hebrew in social settings to be lack of skills. To my surprise, Morahs Rachel and Yaffa reported that he is progressing nicely both socially and in his Hebrew learning. I was told that he has a high level of understanding and often translates what has been said into English for other children in the class.
On Sunday night I dragged myself to Yisrael’s school to meet with his homeroom teacher. I wasn’t looking forward to the meeting because he sometimes comes home and reports that he has lost a recess period for misbehavior or forgetting to do his homework. He views his teacher as strict, so I anticipated her reading me a laundry list of complaints. Again I was pleasantly surprised, almost to the point of tears, as Morah Batsheva gave him a glowing report!
She said he had recently scored a 97 on his Math test (when I later congratulated him for this, he revealed his disappointment for not having scored 100 because a few other boys had). He also did well on a Hebrew test; he wasn’t at the same level as the Israeli born boys in his class, but certainly has shown improvement since the beginning of the school year. Being the first new immigrant she’s worked with, he has exceeded her expectations in all of his subjects. And then the icing was put on the cake; she reported that he understands most of what is being taught, participates in class, is liked by the other boys and overall is a pleasure to have in her class!
Praising him for his school reports seems to have boosted his confidence. Yesterday he translated what the mall store clerks were saying to me and answered them in Hebrew. Friday night we went to dinner at the home of a family from the US and England who have been here for many years. Everyone spoke Hebrew. They were polite and translated for Michael and I while Yisrael played on the floor with their grandson and spoke Hebrew because he didn’t think the baby understood English. People kept telling me that he’d be speaking Hebrew by Chanukah, I didn’t believe them, and am now happily surprised.
The dream of my son smoothly acclimating to Israeli life came true! Baruch Hash-m, I can now exhale! And tell you that holding one’s breath over issues like these can be quite emotionally exhausting – and probably unnecessary.
Yisrael with one of his Lego creations