Posted by Julia Bendis
What’s a mother of boys to do during the 2-week Winter break? After days of wrestling, fighting, video game playing, and countless hours of television, I decided to take my boys to “Color Me Mine” for some ceramic painting. I’ve done it before myself, but my boys never showed interest in either coloring or ceramic making. They are more of a physical activity type kids. The more running and screaming, the better! I had always pictured mothers with their perfect little girls, dressed in pink and red dresses, with their beautiful long tresses in bows, sitting quietly and painting flowers. So when I mentioned Color Me Mine to my boys, I was surprised they wanted to go…
As I went to get ready, my oldest gave me yet another lecture about how I take forever getting ready, and that we are not going to a fancy party, hence no need for mascara!
By the way, this is a daily occurrence in my household:
1. Me trying to get ready to go out.
2. All three of my boys complaining about how they always have to wait an hour for me to be done.
3. Them starting the car because in their little minds they think it will make me go faster, in which case it just makes me mad.
4. And in turn, I start yelling.
But, back to ceramic painting… I had this vision of the three of us painting beautiful mugs for my husband, or plates and bowls with flowers and hearts on them! My vision was wrong. My 5-year-old picked out the biggest ceramic dog he could find, while my 11-year-old picked out the scariest item they had: a skull with a crow on it! Reminded me of Edgar A. Poe… Not exactly the vision I had, but I was going with it.
Nik ended up painting his dog with a variation of green, orange and brown. It took all my strength not to correct his brushing technique, and his choice of colors for a DOG, but I controlled my impulses. I absolutely love having boys, they are a lot of fun, they love their Mother, and most importantly don’t give a damn what they are wearing each day! However, I do wish painting and coloring was at least one of the things they liked to do.
Tyler’s skull and crow turned out black and red, of course, but I was happy they were at least painting with me and having a good time. I was pleasantly surprised that my oldest was taking his sweet time going over every little crevice and detail, making sure it was just right! They even talked me into painting my husband’s mug “the perfect boy” colors, as they put it, instead of what I pictured: pink roses, red tulips and of course hearts, hearts and more hearts!
The high school girls working there took turns complementing my boys on their choice of colors, which immediately made Tyler blush. But obviously did nothing for the 5-year-old since he kept repeating how he wanted to get out of there, so he can go back to playing with his soldiers…
Two great hours spent in quality, peace and quiet! Only 300 more hours to go before school starts…
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December 20, 2010 | 3:26 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
The other day, I started to wonder if anyone else has the same obsessive compulsive behavior when it comes to Facebook, cell phones, Blackberry’s, Blueberry’s, ipods, iphones, ipads and God-knows what else…
For a long time, I resisted getting a more ‘appropriate’ cell phone, or as my kids would say, an adult phone. So now that I finally broke down and purchased a Blackberry, I get pinged and ponged, and ‘notified’ of every move of every person in my contact list! To a “Normal” person, this wouldn’t be an issue, but to me its overwhelming, mainly when I am driving. Not wanting to grab my phone every time I get an email, a text, a Facebook message or something else, I am forced to pull over and check it out.
Yes, for a “Normal” person this wouldn’t be a big deal. They would just wait til they got to their destination or whenever they had time, and check it out. But seeing that this is Me we are talking about, its a problem. I absolutely can not let a message sit in my Inbox without having to see it right away!
I can’t let emails pile up, I have to check them one at a time as they come in. Seriously, I don’t know how people have unread messages just sitting there, it would be like money sitting in my hand, and not being able to spend it. What drives me even more crazy is not being able to reply right away. And when I say: right away, I mean: right away! The thought of someone sending me an email or text, and then just sitting there waiting, and waiting for my reply makes me anxious. By the way, that’s actually the picture I have in my head: the person sending me an email or text, and then sitting back and just starring at the screen, waiting for a reply…
I do expect people to reply back to me right away as well. I just don’t get what is so hard about hitting the “Reply” button and sending a quick text. So rude! However, most people in this world are also not as anal as I am about those things.
This issue wouldn’t even be so bad if it didn’t make my driving commute such a pain in the ass, and a long one at that.
-I leave the house, my cellphone on the passenger seat.
-Ten minutes into driving, Ping, someone sent me a text.
-Me pulling over to read the text. Why? Because someone may be in trouble. How often in the last 5 years has someone been in trouble, you ask? Never.
-Text, my husband asking how my day is going.
-Me typing a 5 minute text about my day. Send.
-On the road again.
-Ten minutes into the drive, on the freeway now, I get a Pong from Facebook.
-Jewish Federation inviting me to a “Rock the Dreidel” event on December 4th. Am I coming?
-Have to reply. Click “Maybe”.
-Back on the road.
-Now I am ten minutes late for my appointment, but at least I feel good that I didn’t miss anything.
-Just as I’m about to pull into a parking lot, my phone makes some other noise, Email.
-Screech into a parking spot, without turning the car off I grab the phone. A friend asking about a guy I was setting her up with.
-Gotta reply. Yes, great, where, when and what. Whew.
-Run into my appointment.
This goes on all day!
I am in a serious technology overload. Thinking how good it used to be before cellphones, before tracking devices, and check-ins on Facebook (more on that idiotic invention later). I could go anywhere, anytime and no one would ever bug me.
But then again, I jumped out of my car every 10 minutes when my pager would go off, so I could call the person that paged me! No wonder i never made it anywhere… I guess I’ll take the Blackberry over a dirty payphone.
December 17, 2010 | 2:47 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
Wouldn’t you agree that there is nothing like watching your child singing Christmas Carols in a school performance? I am sorry, let me re-phrase that. There is nothing like watching your Jewish kid singing Christmas Carols, in a school performance! Am I right?
All the schools this time of year are putting on presentations, and plays about Christmas and the Holidays, but do the teachers take into consideration what that does to the Jewish kids in that school? Or in my son’s case, the whole FIVE Jewish kids that are in the entire school?
As much as we teach our kids about who we are, and where we come from, and what we believe, we also want them to fit in and not be outsiders. Even if the teachers gave us the heads-up about songs that they will be performing, and give us the option to pull them out of it, would we? Would I? I am not so sure. All we want as parents, is for our kids to feel like they belong, to fit in with the rest of the kids, and have good friends that accept them for who they are. But, when you start pulling them out of performances as many parents do, what does THAT do to the child? I truly believe that it only upsets the child, makes them feel alone and unaccepted. I put myself in their shoes, and can’t imagine having to sit out while all the other kids are up there singing their hearts out about a Merry little Christmas!
Having said that, if I don’t pull them out of a Christmas performance, I feel awful. As my husband and I sat there listening and taking pictures, I couldn’t stop thinking about what my Rabbi would say seeing my son up there singing: “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas!” Oye Vay, what am I doing to him?
Just as I sat there pondering the meaning of being Jewish, the teacher announced that next they will be singing a “cute, and cheery song about a Dreidel”. I looked at my husband and we both smiled, thinking oh good, finally!
It went something like this, and I am paraphrasing: “Oh, how I love to spin my Dreidel. You can land on any letter, but please don’t land on Shin, because I will have to pay, be out of money and have to declare Bankruptcy!” That’s when all the kids made the money signal with their hands.
Its not enough that we get stereo-typed as only caring about money, but they have to make the kids sing about it at a class performance! I looked over at my husband and seriously thought he was about to pass out. I’ve never seen him more pale or dumbfound… When all the parents were clapping and smiling, all I could think was, I’d really love to have a chat with the person that wrote this wonderful song!
What more can I say…
December 15, 2010 | 4:22 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
Many people ask me what we brought with us to America, when we immigrated here in 1989.
Well… Most Russians brought over money and diamonds. Since we were neither smart or rich, this is literally what we had in our suitcases:
Someone had told my parents that in order NOT to spend money once we got to the U.S., we should absolutely pack the necessities.
As we got to the airport in Moscow, we had to go through Russian security and customs. Imagine big, hairy Russian Army soldiers with AK-47 Kalashnikov’s opening our luggage as rolls and rolls, and rolls of Soviet issued toilet paper come flying out…
That wasn’t all. My parents had a whole separate luggage that when opened by one of the guards, had Soviet issued CONDOMS falling out of it. Let me re-phrase this, it had NOTHING but condoms in the luggage!
The guard looked at my parents, as if to say, what the hell is wrong with you people? Back then, most Jews left Russia loaded with money and diamonds. But not us, we went with far more important things, like rock hard sand paper for the bathroom, and condoms. Because that is what’s important in life!
I can only imagine what those soldiers were thinking… What kind of Jews leave Mother Russia with nothing but condoms? What are you planning on doing there? Having sex for money?
We also had a whole luggage devoted to pillows, yes pillows, the kind you sleep on. And of course, home-made women’s monthly menstruation supplies. I think that was the best one of all. Picture bags of cotton, not cotton balls, just cotton wrapped in medical gauze! When most people were bribing dock workers, and paying money to get their jewels shipped overseas, my Mother was bribing hospital employees to get her much needed gauze and cotton…
Can you tell yet where my parents’ priorities were? It does explain a bit about how my brother and I turned out, doesn’t it?
December 14, 2010 | 3:11 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
Everywhere you go during this time of year, you are bound to get a “Merry Christmas!”, and that’s perfectly fine with me. If its a stranger, in return I just do my usual: “Yea, Yea Happy Hanukkah to you too!” After which, they give me that sad face, as if to say: “Oh, I’m sorry!” And then they go on to console me: “But at least you are done with all the shopping, right?” What the hell does that mean? Its almost like some consolation prize. Oh, you are Jewish, so sorry to hear that you don’t celebrate the Greatest Holiday ever! Well, Happy Hanukkah anyway!
They act like I’m missing out big time, or worse like I am dying.
I understand it if you don’t know me, and don’t know that I am a Big Jew. But if you know me… why do you still insist on wishing me a Merry Christmas? It’s as though they think that all year long we are Jewish, then all of a sudden Christmas rolls around, and by some miracle we (the Jews) drop our Jewishness, and become Christians for that one special day called Christmas!?!? I don’t get it, is that the thinking behind it? Please, do enlighten me…
December 9, 2010 | 10:22 am
Posted by Julia Bendis
Well, as much as I swore to never speak or write about this Bieber kid, here it comes:
I can’t stand the kid! What is the hype all about? Seriously, the kid is not cute, his voice is sub-par at most, and if everyone hasn’t noticed he’s got a Tick. Have you looked at him during the American Music Awards? He can’t go longer than 5 seconds without shaking his hair, what is that about? I really think his parents should concentrate on his mental, and physical well-being, and maybe take him to a Neurologist instead of the AMA’s.
If that was my kid, I’d have him tested for Tourette’s syndrome already… But, us Yiddishe Mothers do tend to over-react a bit…
I really haven’t paid much attention to the kid, until my kindergartner announced that he LIKES Justin Bieber! Since Nikolas doesn’t have much of an opinion of his own, and tends to just repeat whatever other kids are saying, I let it slide. But during the AMA’s he kept saying how badly he wants to see Bieber perform. So, we let him watch it. As my 11-year-old covered his ears, and ran out of the room during the song, I tried hard not to judge and just listen to the song.
Its especially hard NOT to judge when the singer sucks, really badly. Who wants to hear a late bloomer all pitchy, and squeely trying to sing? The poor kid is going through puberty, so his voice kept changing during the whole performance, he couldn’t find a note to save his life. I don’t know who found him, and made him famous but I’d really like to meet that person!
I stand by my original opinion, Bieber sucks.
December 6, 2010 | 2:05 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
I absolutely love being Jewish, I love everything about it, the food, the culture, the faith itself. However, the terrible thing about being Jewish is that constant feeling that there is something wrong with you. Seriously, worry is our “thing”! That’s just what we do, what has been instilled in us from the beginning of time, STRESS. Its like a right of passage for us. You want to be born a Jew, OK here is a boulder to carry on your shoulders, At All Times. From now on, you worry about everything!
And you have to be a hypochondriac if you are Jewish, that’s a Must. I wake up every morning wondering if I have some horrible, incurable disease, preferably something from the 15th Century! And not only do we love to complain about what hurts, we also try to out-do each other. “Oh, you got a goiter? Well, that’s nothing. Look at this hemorrhoid the size of a tennis ball? Bet you’ve never had that before! Ha!”
We wondered the Desert for 40 years, can you imagine what THAT was like? It wasn’t pretty…
- Its hot
- I’m thirsty
- I’m hungry
- I’m tired
- I want to go home
- I have to pee
- Where are the bathrooms?
- Where is my 5 star hotel?
- What do you mean I have to eat this flat, big cracker with no taste to it, instead of Challah?
- My head hurts
- My butt hurts
- Where the hell is the Ritz?
And it didn’t end there, with all new technology, and the internet apparently we got smarter and sicker at the same time… Oye Vey is all I gotta say!
December 1, 2010 | 2:46 pm
Posted by Julia Bendis
When school was ending last year, I started looking for summer camps for my kids. As I started looking, they started whining… What kid complains about going to camp? Not only complains, but begs not to be sent to one?
That’s when I decided that it was time to sit my kids down, and tell them all about the so-called “summer camps” I had to go to! I know that most kids in America love going to summer camp, not only because they are fun, and they get to hang out with their friends, but also because they are 5-Star resorts! At least, compared to the Russian, Socialistic camps we were forced to go to!
Every summer, my brother and I got shipped to my grandparents in Ukraine. At first, we were excited thinking we would spend three months with our wonderful grandparents, just being pampered. Listening to Grandpa’s War stories as Grandma complained: “Stop with the Bobbemyseh (nonsense, stories, wive’s tales-Yiddish)”. Apparently, he liked to embellish his time in the Red Army a bit… But, we quickly learned that going to visit grandparents over the summer, equals spending the whole summer in a Russian-Communist camp.
As soon as we would get off the airplane, they would tell us that Grandma pulled some strings with her “government friends”, and got us into the Best overnight camp ever! Now, when I say overnight, I am not talking seven days away from home. I am talking two weeks, sometimes longer! And when I say Best, I mean they actually had beds instead of just mattresses on the floor.
Just when we thought we were done with one camp, they would give us a break for a week, and put us right back into another camp. My grandma’s words: “Its better than sitting here in the apartment on the fifth floor all summer!”, only in Russian with some Yiddish mixed in for good measure.
Let me tell you about these camps. One in particular stands out the most. It was so far in the woods, somewhere by the Black Sea that we first had to take a two-hour bus ride, then an old party boat to get to it, then walk a couple miles. My grandma went there with us, just to make sure we made it safe, and for moral support. Or as I’d like to call it, “Preparation”.
My brother and I were so scared and upset about going to camp, that the whole time we traveled my Grandma kept promising to stay there with us. Once, we finally made it there, my Grandma vanished in thin air! To this day, I have no idea how or when she left… I learned quickly that my Grandma lies, a lot, especially when trying to get us to do something.
I still remember being surrounded by hundreds of bugs and mosquitoes, and Sadistic camp counselors. I truly believe that when the Communists were building their camps, they set out to look for the most vicious counselors they could find. Some were probably ex-Nazi’s left over from the War, just pretending to be Russians. Here are some of the questions they asked during the interview process:
-Have you ever worked with kids before?
-Do you have children of your own?
-Do you ever want to have children?
-Do you LIKE children?
-Proceed to the next station for your badge.
I kid you not when I say that these people would walk around with sticks in their hands during nap time, and threaten to glue our mouths shut if we didn’t go to sleep. It didn’t matter that some of us were older than 5 and didn’t NEED to take naps, or the fact that we were all sleeping in the same room, boys and girls! At one point, I saw one of the counselors get the glue, just for better effect!
And talk about bathrooms… There were none! We had to use the forest as our own, personal bathroom! I don’t even remember having showers there.
There were no games, no fun. At least, I don’t remember having any. Forget about scavenger hunts, and roasting marshmallows over fire. We got rations of food and an hour of playground time. The rest of the time, I have no idea what we did. Probably get brainwashed, and learn about Lenin and Stalin, and the foundation of Socialism.
The camps here in the U.S. are truly resorts compared to the ones we had in Russia. No kid should ever complain about being sent to camp!