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Archive for the ‘spring’ Category

Ah spring. The snow is melting and it no longer over my head everywhere on the lawn. Plus, as I walked around the block with Jasper, we discovered many interesting things have been uncovered by the receding snow. His favourite: an old piece of bread, yum. My favourite: a dirty diaper. It’s my favourite because when I said, “Leave it!” he actually did.

I missed my dog. The children could come to the hospital and visit me, but not the dog. And when I came home for visits, the kids got that I’d come back again soon, but not the dog. He sat at the back door and cried when I left.

He’s definitely worse for wear after two months without me. Since J could not leave him at home alone all day, friends of ours took him and kept him for the entire time, except some weekends. They love him dearly and I felt guilty taking him back. The guilt is lessened by the fact that in a month they will be getting their own puppy, a red male mini-doodle which, as far as I can tell, will look like Jasper Jr. But even though they love him, they did not know how to brush him. His grooming brush has a special technique that I never bothered to show anyone else. As a result, he is filled with mats in his long, long hair. J wants to take him to a groomer and have him shaved, but I refuse. I’m fixing him, damn it.

Here Asher and my brother demonstrate what happens to people who sit on the couch Jasper considers to be his:

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These were our season firsts for today:

Open windows.
Sandals.
The first flower poked out from under the dead leaves.
No need to wipe slush or mud of the dog’s paws after a walk.
Bought popsicles and, two seconds after handing them to my kids, 5 other kids showed up at the door.
Gardened.
Ate dinner outside.
Ending the day with kids with dirty faces, hands and feet.

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The nice weather takes a bit of the sting of the fact that J is off to Israel for 10 days without me. I went with him last year at this time and decided there is no place I’d rather be than Israel in the spring. It was so beautiful and lush. Everything smelled so good. It just added a whole new dimension to a country I already love for so many other reasons, and it kills me there he gets to be there and I don’t. I actually feel a yearning in my chest to be there. I miss it, possibly in a way only Jew who doesn’t live there can.

(this is me at the Southern Wall with my rabbi, reading from the Torah for the first time)

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I am looking forward to a lovely weekend, though. Maya is at a friend’s cottage for the weekend and I always find that when you take one child out of the equation, the other two are much easier to deal with. It isn’t just that I find it less difficult, but they are actually better behaved. Less fighting. It doesn’t matter which kid you remove, the effect is the same. I totally don’t get that. I am sure in families with only two siblings those children fight as much as my kids do, but reduce mine to two and they don’t fight.

So it was a very peaceful evening, except for Asher’s nightly tears over the loss of his best friend. When he was four years old and in junior kindergarten, a little boy arrived from Israel with his family. Of course, he didn’t speak a word of English and worse, he had a very difficult time learning. He is just one of those people to whom languages do not come easily, because even now, four years later, he has a wicked Hebrew accent and his English isn’t great.

Anyway, we only heard a little about him from Asher, who said told us about the kid and that he was making friends with him despite the language barrier. Only at parent-teacher interviews did I get the whole story, which was that other kids were ignoring and sometimes teasing this little guy, but Asher decided to take a different route and set out to make friends, communicating in sign language, determinedly teaching the boy English and quickly learning useful Hebrew phrases (“Don’t go there,” “Come here,” “Take this,”) to communicate with him.

Their Hebrew teacher told me at the time, “To tell you the truth, I didn’t think Asher stood out much at the beginning of the year. He was just an average little boy, part of the crowd, but I want you to know that the way your son has treated T has been remarkable. He is a kind and gentle soul, and mature beyond his years.” I practically burst with pride.

T’s family clearly felt the same way, embarrassing us with the extravagance of the gifts they give Asher each year at his birthday and Hanukkah. They credit him with teaching their son English, which seems extreme, but they do.

The truth is, the kid is annoying as all get-out. He’s wild and out-of-control. He is utterly undisciplined, destructive and irritating. But he listens to my son. At Hanukkah that first year, we had his family over for a party and he rampaged through our house, driving the other kids nuts until Asher barked out a command in Hebrew, then he’d stop whatever he was doing and run right over.

Now their time here has come to an end and they are returning home. And my son is heartbroken. Not only is he losing his best friend but, he admitted to me, T is the only boy in the class who he feels is as ‘dumb’ as he is. Clearly also ADD, as well as hyperactive, T sits at the teacher’s other side during class work and while he is way worse off than Asher, Asher sees a kindred spirit and is now being left with a group of high achievers and no one like him. He is fine during the day, but he cries himself to sleep every night.

They are leaving in a month. It is going to be a long month.

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The warm weather and rain yesterday pretty much got rid of all the remaining snow. It was quite remarkable to watch my garden emerge as the day progressed. My front yard is a perennial garden in progress and since it is north-facing, it is encased in ice most of the winter.  It is amazing to see my creeping thyme and moss emerging bright green from the solid ice. My baby coral bell leaves have already been nibbled by hungry rabbits. Damn rabbits.

Since we didn’t get much snow this year, it is disappearing early, and with early daylight savings, it really does feel like spring already and it isn’t even April. Woo hoo.

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Jasper is back home after his little operation. He isn’t taking it too well. The cats sure were tougher. J picked him up and he sat at the door and cried until I returned home (from Maya’s piano lesson), then spent a couple more hours crying if I didn’t sit with him. After a while, he was content to have one of the kids sit with him. He watched me, but at least he didn’t cry.

There’s another difference between cats and dogs. A couple of years ago, R  some how got wounded and ripped a huge hole in her thigh, requiring some pretty major surgery to fix it all up. Her response was to hide in her cat carrier for a few days, wanting nothing to do with anyone. Jasper, poor thing, needs human comfort.

We realized last night around 9 pm that he was licking at his stitches, but we didn’t have a cone for him and couldn’t get one until this morning. I phoned the emergency vet place, not knowing what to do about that. The guy on the other end of the phone recommended a pair of old boxer shorts, so Jasper spent the rest of the night wearing an old bathing suit of J’s. He was not impressed. I went this morning and got a cone, and he’s pretty miserable about that too. Poor suffering puppy.

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Spring!

Ha! Not! as my children like to say. It got lovely and warm last week for a few days. It smelled all springy. Every time I walked the dog, great swaths of grass on people’s lawns had been revealed.

Then, my cleaning lady/hand-me-down nanny/wife/saviour told me that the weather was supposed to get cold again this week, and snow, and ruined all my fun. At least, I think that is what she was trying to tell me. My fingers were in my ears and I was saying, “LALALALA” so I can’t be sure. Didn’t help, though. Everything is covered up with snow once again and I had to put away my shoes and break out the big boots.

The only good thing about the latest snowstorm is that Jasper loves bounding in the snow on people’s lawns. I stand in the middle on the road with his leash run all the way out and he leaps and bounds and charges back and forth on the snow, pausing to smush his face all the way into the snow and hold it there for many seconds before bursting out and galloping off. We were quite the sight. All the other dog owners would walk staidly by and their dogs would stare at mine in amazement as he threw himself around in completely puppy joy. I don’t know what we’ll find in summer to replace that.

He’s gone from a dog who hated to go for walks to one who loves them. He also hasn’t peed on the floor in a week. He did, however, liberate a big hunk of cheese I was cutting up for an omelet from the counter. I had lots more cheese, so I mostly thought it was funny.

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Yesterday around 1 pm, I got a phone call from the school. It was Maya, reminding me that there was early dismissal and parent/teacher interviews at 3. She has absolutely no faith in me to remember anything, and despite the office staff assuring her I’d remember, as report cards just came home on Friday, she insisted on calling.

It can be very annoying, that she reminds me every Friday when they get out of school (it changes depending on the time of year, because Friday night is when shabbat starts, at sundown), and reminds of when to pick her up from camp, or when she has some event at school. But I can’t really get angry at her because – and those of you who know me well could see this coming a mile away – I’d forgotten completely about the interviews and early dismissal. Thank goodness she called.

I didn’t bother with Maya’s teachers, as she’s fine, but did the rounds of Asher’s. He has problems with handwriting and reading – he could do the latter, he just refused to, but he’s much improved. He also has mild ADD. It is hard for me to write that, because I feel like I’m labelling him.  I tried just saying he has problems concentrating and with organization, but people aren’t stupid and would say things like, “Oh, my nephew has ADD too.” He’s not hyperactive at all and he’s also has no behaviour problems, which is sort of how I normally imagine kids when you say ADD. He’s just very, very easily distracted and forgetful and disorganized. He’s exactly like me.

His handwriting and reading are coming along beautifully, but his teachers have his desk up right beside theirs so they can keep him ‘on task’ as opposed to staring out the window.

After the interviews, I was driving Asher to his tutor and told him his teachers love him (which they do – his Hebrew teacher said at times he’ll come up to her and say, “I’m sorry, but you know I have trouble concentrating and I wasn’t paying attention when you told us which page to work on. Can you just tell me again?” She wishes all the kids with concentration difficulties were so self-aware), but of course we need to work on his organization so he doesn’t forget so much stuff.

He said, “There’s no point. It isn’t going to get better.” I said, “Of course it will! As you get older, you’ll get better at figuring out how to remember things.” He said, “Like you and the parent-teacher interviews?” Ouch. He had me there. So I told him that when I was a kid, no one knew exactly how to help me, but teachers know more nowadays and can help him more. He wasn’t buying it. As we arrived at the tutor, I told her that he’d gotten his report card, then said, “Oh darn! I meant to bring it for you!” and smart mouth said quietly, as he went into the kitchen, “Never gets better ….”

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