Advanced planning and notification doesn’t seem to be a strong point for Yisrael’s teacher – and maybe this is just the way Israeli schools operate. Last Monday, Yisrael came home and told me that four boys would be coming to our house on Tuesday. Why? He wasn’t sure but the teacher said they were coming and we were supposed to do something with them. I wonder, are all boys like this – or is it just mine? If Jessica had been in this situation, she not only would have been able to tell me what the teacher expected, but she would have told me what SHE expected and already planned with her friends!
Being one of those just say “no“ moods, I told him that I wasn’t accepting this responsibility until someone explained to me what exactly was expected. And that of any possible weekday, Tuesday was the worst choice because he has occupational therapy at 11:30 on the other side of town and school gets out at 12:35 (we don’t have a car).
That particular Tuesday he didn’t have O.T., but Michael and I had an appointment to meet with his therapist to discuss goals. We rushed home in a cab, planning to wing it, only to discover that the school event wasn’t going to be that Tuesday because two boys came to school saying they couldn’t make it.
Tuesday night his teacher called and we spent an agonizing 7 or 8 minutes on the phone attempting to communicate – in her broken English and my pathetic Hebrew – what was supposed to take place. I came away with the understanding that this was to be a friendship event where the boys do some sort of craft. No details on how many hours they were to be here, no parental contact info (kids are pretty independent here), and no suggestions for appropriate crafts. I thought this must be some kind of sick joke from God, as though I didn’t already have enough stress to deal with.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not have a flare for arts and crafts. My home décor is bare white walls with a clock here or there and one plant that manages to survive mostly on air! The thought of crafts brought back memories of my daughter – or maybe it was my little sister – and her friends making bracelets, creating something useless with glue, paint and popsicle sticks, weaving pot holders, and making a “fish” out of a bar of Caress soap, pink netting and pearled straight pins. For most people, this challenge would be a simple and fun one, but for me it was stressful. My salvation came from the fact that one thing I’m very good at is Internet research, so I turned to my friend Google.
Fortunately I found a “masculine” craft that didn’t require clay, putty, glue, paint, markers or the creation of a kitchen mess: the making friends hiking necklace.
The only problem was that the instructions assume that everyone has convenient access to a JoAnn’s or Wal-mart. So my next challenge was fulfilling the shopping list in Maale Adumim. Between the shekel store in Kikar Ya’alom and the mall I accomplished:
- Whistle on a string – I found little plastic whistles with a hole for a string (but no string)
- Small flashlights.
- String – could only find the plastic type that needs to be braided, so I picked up the multi-color pack
That left me short the compass or magnifying glass and stronger string, so I ventured into Jerusalem hoping to find something appropriate in Geula, where I needed to go to cash a check. No such luck. I ended up walking all the way to Ben Yehuda to a toy store where we had previously purchased a compass. Along the way I picked up brown shoelaces and small magnifying glasses at a shekel store on Strauss.
Tuesday arrived and presented a test of my creativity, organizational skills and patience as I needed to dedicate four to six hours on a marketing project for a new client and fit in all of this:
- Walked to school and retrieved Yisrael from his class at 11:00.
- Phoned for a taxi and actually was able to communicate my location and desired destination in a way the dispatcher understood!
- Left my tote bag in the cab (and managed to retrieve it from the dispatcher’s booth the next day).
- Spent an hour and 15 minutes at the occupational therapist.
- Called a taxi and managed to make it to the school parking lot just as the dismissal bell rang.
- Left Michael with Yisrael to gather the boys and called in an order for pizza delivery while I was walking home from the school.
- I managed to set up 8 chairs around our table (the number had grown to 6 assigned boys plus Yisrael’s best friend, Eliad) just as the gang came crashing through the door. Two boys couldn’t make it so now we had a total of six (although the noise level probably caused our neighbors to think it was more like 36).
- Since the pizza wasn’t due to arrive for 30 minutes I decided we’d jump right into the craft.
I was thankful that Michael was here to help; it was good to have another set of adult hands to string, tie, and keep the boys in their chairs.
- The pizza and RC Cola arrived and the boys quickly washed their hands and rushed to the table. I wish I had had the presence of mind to take a video of the amusing delivery guy who came crashing through my front door with 3 pizza boxes and 3 bottles of soda wearing a full face helmet – they deliver on motorcycles here and feel that one knock is sufficient notice before they open the door and walk in.
- After the pizza Michael ensured that they all washed their hands and faces before going near the sofas where they began watching Rattatouille in Hebrew.
- While their attention was diverted from the table for a few minutes, I helped Yisrael set up his Bakugan board and then the boys crowded around to learn how to play.
He was thrilled to learn last week that this game that we had a seminary girl smuggle in from America (it was his Afikomen gift) is now available in Israel! So he counted up the shekels in his “bank” and bought another set to expand his game playing options.
- A few weren’t so interested in Bakugan, so we set them up with another game.
- And because 8 year-old boys are forever hungry, Yisrael served ice cream – caramel, vanilla, banana and mocha (a flavor combination only a kid could love).
Four of the boys left between 3:30 and 4:00, leaving just Yisrael and Eliad (who stayed until 6:30). At 4:15 I decided that my migraine qualified me for a nap, from which I was rudely awakened from by a U.S. telemarketer at 5:30 (another reason to change my phone number). When Eliad’s mother came at around 6:30, I was informed that letting the boys bake a batch of cookies would have been sufficient. All-in-all I think it was a pretty successful event -but one I won’t be volunteering to repeat in the near future!