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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Those of you have been following this blog for awhile know that I have two children. I refer to them as Exhibit One and Exhibit Two. [1]

jon-britt35(The kiddie-winkers!)

This past Friday afternoon while I was driving through Crystal Beach, minding my own business, I received a surprise call on my cell phone from Exhibit One in Israel.

“Hi! I have some news!”

My first reaction was, “Uh oh! Good news or bad news!?”

last 085(Mazal tov! The couple in Jerusalem)

My lovely daughter announced that she was engaged.

I practically drove off the road and into a ditch with excitement.

???????????????????????????????(Fiancée and fiancé in Jerusalem)

I showered her with mazal tovs. I even got a chance to wish her fiancé a hearty mazal tov!

It was about this time that I noticed a police cruiser following me. I had to quickly end the call. Her Majesty’s government frowns on the use of handheld communication devices while driving.

???????????????????????????????(Fiancé and fiancée in Yaffo [aka Jaffa])

Exhibit One engaged. Wow!

Luckily for me, I highly approve of the fiancé. As a general rule, I dislike Israeli men. Bunch of blow-hard macho know-it-alls, if you ask me. This young man, however, is a refreshing exception to the stereotype. I like him a lot! Charming, witty, intelligent, kind, soft-spoken. A real mensch.

The wedding will be held in Israel. Not sure yet exactly when and where.

Details to follow in due course!

aa-kendo-kanji-red_________________________________________________________

[1] To those new to this blog, a brief history: When I was a young rōnin, I was for several years in a relationship and living with an even younger partner. While I did not fully appreciate it at the time, we were in a common-law marriage. That person is, therefore, my ‘first spouse’ [‘SA’], as opposed to the person I legally married (then legally divorced) many years later [‘WHN’]. My children, Exhibits One and Two, were tendered into evidence during the second marriage.

Details: Exhibit One (23 year old girl), lives in Ramat Gan (east Tel Aviv), Israel. Exhibit Two (21 year old boy) just graduated from McMaster University in Canada and is also presently in Israel.

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On Monday, I arrived in Israel for the first time in my life after so many years… decades… of waiting, hoping, praying.

I came alone.

I knew it was going to be emotional. I knew it was going to be intense.

I was prepared… or so I thought.

It was like being prepared to be hit by a bus… compared to actually being hit by a bus.

When the plane touched down in Tel Aviv, I began weeping. [1]

I could barely stand. Other passengers grabbed their carry on bags and headed out. I was in a daze.

I made my way through a blur of tears. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. I moved as if in a trance. Was this really happening? Am I in one of the thousands of dreams and daydreams I’ve had over the last 30 or 40 years?

ben-gurion-airport2

I was nervous about being questioned by Israeli authorities. Who was I? Where was I from? Where was I born? Why was I coming to Israel? Was I Jewish? A Jew with an Italian name? Were my parents Jewish? Did I convert? What rabbinical court converted me? My daughter lives in Israel? She immigrated to Israel? Where does she live? What is her address? Is this my first visit? What prayer does a Jew make when he embarks on a trip? Recite the first line. Do I wear tefillin? When do I wear them? When do I NOT wear them? What was the Torah reading for last Shabbes? What’s the Torah reading for next Shabbes? Was I married? Did I have an aufrufen? Did I read from the Torah? What was the Torah portion? Can I recite the first line from my haftorah portion? What holiday is coming up in 2 weeks? What book is read? Recite the blessings that are read before the book is read. Can you read the first few lines from that book? Do you know the melody that goes with that reading?

I had heard so many stories about Israeli security. I was nervous. I stepped up to the customs officer and handed her my passport.

“What is the purpose of your visit?”

I explained that this was my first visit to Israel and that I came to see my daughter who made aliyah (i.e. emigrated to Israel) a year ago.

“Where does she live?”

I told her she lives in Ramat Gan.

“How long are you going to be in Israel?”

I said I was staying for two weeks, returning on February 25.

The customs officer looked at me for a few moments, sizing me up.

She smiled and handed me back my passport and told me to proceed to baggage claims.

I walked to the baggage claim area and searched for my luggage. A plain black suitcase. My dear friend (and international travel guide) Tracy suggested I attach some brightly-coloured masking tape or cloth to make it distinguishable. I found it. Both wheels were broken off.

ben-gurion1

I extended the handle and dragged the suitcase behind me as I moved out into the main lobby. I felt numb. It all seemed so unreal. I couldn’t help feeling that I was going to wake up at any moment.

A tall handsome young man with a wide smile. Tomer. My daughter’s boyfriend. He waves and comes to me, giving me a big warm tight hug.

And then I see my beloved daughter. I’ve not laid eyes on her in over a year.

I cry again. I can’t help it. Tomer helps me with my crippled suitcase.

We walk out into the fresh air. I breathe it deep into my lungs.

I’m here. I feel I’ve finally come home to a place to which I’ve never been before.

aa-kendo-kanji-red_________________________________________________________

[1] Actually, I started crying as soon as I heard the landing gear lowering. 

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Saw this disturbing article the other day at the Telegram.co.uk…

Chinese toddler’s karaoke tantrum ends in bloodbath

Now before you have visions of berserk toddlers going on a murderous rampage, let me assure you that is not the case. Well, at least not here.

(Somebody is NOT happy!)

It was more like…

“Toddler’s refusal to give up the microphone during a

family karaoke evening started a quarrel that left

two men hacked to death with a meat cleaver!”

(Are you ready to rumble??)

OK, here’s what happened. A couple were celebrating the Qixi Festival (i.e. China’s Valentine’s Day), with a singing session at a local karaoke parlour. So far, so good. Trouble starts when the parents’ four-year-old son hogs the karaoke mike and the doting parents were indulging him. [1]

(Beijing… we have a problem)

Mayhem ensues when two of the karaoke kid’s uncles berate the father for having raised such a spoiled child;  a “Little Emperor”, as the Chinese say [2]. Push literally comes to shove, then shoving proceeds to punching. A nephew grabs a meat cleaver and hacks the uncles to death.

(The problem solver)

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Karaoke-related violence is a real problem in the East.

Other karaoke massacres have taken place in the Philippines, where the Frank Sinatra song ‘My Way‘ has had to be removed from many songbooks after sub-standard renditions provoked a string of killings.

(Clearly a trouble-maker)

In Thailand, meanwhile, a man shot eight of his neighbours, including his brother-in-law, after tiring of their tuneless reprisals of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads.’

(An incitement to violence)

In the United States, a woman punched a man for continuing to sing Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ after she had told him he was not up to the task.

(It would have driven Mother Teresa to violence)

In her defence… it WAS a karaoke version of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow!’

Ghandi would have punched this guy out!

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[1] NB: Karaoke is taken very seriously, not just in China but throughout Asia.

[2] There is no shortage of criticism inside China for the bad behaviour of the Little Emperors, the children raised under the strict one-child policy and doted on by their parents and grandparents.

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Hats off once again to the gang over at ScienceDaily.com for blowing the lid off of this story.

Babies May Not Have a ‘Moral Compass’ After All

New research from New Zealand’s University of Otago is casting doubt on a landmark US study that suggested infants as young as six months old possess an innate moral compass that allows them to evaluate individuals as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

(Ethically handicapped)

The 2007 study by Yale University researchers provided the first evidence that 6- and 10-month-old infants could assess individuals based on their behaviour towards others, showing a preference for those who helped rather than hindered another individual.

Based on a series of experiments, researchers in the Department of Psychology at Otago have shown that the earlier findings may simply be the result of infants’ preferences for interesting and attention grabbing events, rather than an ability to evaluate individuals based on their social interactions with others.

The Otago study was recently published in PLoS One, an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online journal.

In the original Yale experiment, infants watched a wooden toy (i.e., the “climber”) attempt to climb a hill. They viewed two social interactions; one in which a “helper” toy nudged the climber up the hill, and another in which a “hinderer” toy nudged the climber down the hill.

(Future sociopath)

After viewing these two scenarios, the infants were presented with a tray; on one side of the tray was the helper and on the other side was the hinderer. Amazingly, the majority of infants picked the helper over the hinderer. To further elucidate infants’ moral reasoning abilities, a “neutral” toy (i.e., a toy that neither helped nor hindered) was pitted against the helper or hinderer. When the neutral character was paired with the helper, the infants preferred the helper; when paired with the hinderer, they preferred the neutral character.

The paper concluded that the experiments show that infants can evaluate individuals based on how they interact with another individual, and that their ability to do this is ‘universal and unlearned’.

Lead Otago author Dr Damian Scarf says that the Yale study caused an international sensation when it was published in the leading journal Nature.

After reviewing videos of the Yale experiments, the Otago researchers noticed that two obvious perceptual events could be driving infants’ choices.

“On the help and hinder trials, the toys collided with one another, an event we thought infants may not like. Furthermore, only on the help trials, the climber bounced up and down at the top of hill, an event we thought infants may enjoy.”

(Has no conscience)

The researchers carried out a series experiments to test these assumptions and, by manipulating the collision and bouncing events, were able to show that these perceptual events were driving infants’ choices of the helper over the hinderer, Dr Scarf says.

In other words, the infants couldn’t care less who was helping and who was hindering. They chose the one who was bouncing around more because it amused them.

“For example,” continues Dr Scarf, “when we had the climber bounce at the bottom of the hill, but not at the top of the hill, infants preferred the hinderer, that is, the one that pushed the climber down the hill. If the social evaluation hypothesis was correct, we should have seen a clear preference for the helper, irrespective of the location of the bounce, because the helper always helped the climber achieve its goal of reaching the top of the hill.”

So there you have it, boys and girls.

A generation of cold, heartless infants. They will be the ones who will eventually choose the nursing homes in which we end up.

Better start bouncing around now, folks!

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Be sure to check out my sister blog, Vampyre Fangs!

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I love this article which I read at United-Academics.org.

Babies are healthier when there is a dog at home.

Why? Simple!

Germs!!

New research published in Pediatrics suggests that children living with a dog are significantly healthier than those living without it. The researchers followed up 397 Finnish children, asking their parents to fill in weekly questionnaires about their health until they were 1 year old. Scientists believe that this is so because dog contact helps the babies build up their immune system.

The results showed that children with a dog at home were healthy for about 73% of the time, while the percentage on children without a dog was of 65%. According to the study, the former ‘had fewer respiratory tract symptoms or infections’, as well as ‘less frequent otitis and tended to need fewer courses of antibiotics’ than those without dog contacts, according to Eija Bergroth, the study’s lead author and a pediatrician affiliated with Kuopio University Hospital in Kuopio, Finland.

Moreover, when dogs spent most of their time outside the home, the babies were healthier.

Why? Simple!

Dogs that spend a lot of time outside are likely to bring more dirt and bacteria inside the home compared with dogs that spend more time indoors. Researchers believe that exposure to dirt and bacteria builds up babies’ immune systems.

The study emphasizes the benefits of exposure to animals, at least when it comes to the so-called ‘man’s best friend’. The researchers also analyzed cat contacts, but it seems that the influence of cats on the baby’s health was weaker.

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Source: The Wall Street JournalMedical Xpress

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As set out in a recent article in MedicalDaily.com website, girls who spend more time updating pictures, chatting and surfing the internet are more likely to suffer from negative body image and low self-esteem, says a new study.

Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 girls between the ages of 12 and 16 as part of the The NetGirls Project. They found that 40 percent of girls thought their bodies weren’t good enough and that they were scared about gaining weight.

The study also showed that 96 percent of girls said that they had access to some form of internet connection at home and of these girls, 72 percent said that they uploaded pictures of themselves on the internet.

On an average, girls spend about 3.5 hours on the internet and particularly on sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

Just about 30 percent of the girls said that their parents set rules about internet use at home.

“We set out to investigate the role of media in adolescent girls’ self-image. We were interested to find out how adolescent girls were spending their free time and how different activities related to how they felt about themselves and their bodies. Our findings demonstrate a worrying correlation between excessive media use, particularly social media and the internet, and lower self-esteem, body-esteem and sense of identity and higher depression,” said Dr Amy Slater from the School of Psychology at Flinders University, Australia.

Television and magazines are often regarded as factors that influence girls to be thinner .There are hundreds of studies that draw conclusions between media like television and magazines with poor self-esteem or body image.

Researchers of the present study will also be presenting analysis of 600 advertisements in social media directed at young girls, according to a news release.

“A content analysis of adverts found on sites that appeal to adolescent girls showed likely exposure to those reinforcing the importance of beauty and thinness,” Dr Slater explains

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The study was presented at the Appearance Matters 5 conference and should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

(Photo: REUTERS/Michael Dalder)

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Exhibit Two Gets Aished! 

(Exhibit Two at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem earlier this month)

A bit of explanation is in order.

Aish = Aish HaTorah. [1]

Aish HaTorah is an apolitical network of Jewish educational centers in 35 branches on five continents. [2]

Aish is all about Jewish education and kiruv… drawing Jews closer to G-d. [3]

There is an expression for Jews who, through the educational and kiruv work of Aish HaTorah, become more connected to Judaism and more observant. It is said they get “Aished.”

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[1] The name Aish HaTorah literally means “Fire of Torah.” As Elie Weisel said: “Aish HaTorah means to me the passion of teaching, the passion of learning. The study of Torah, the source of Jewish values, is the way to Jewish survival.”

[2] Aish HaTorah is a Jewish outreach organization started in Jerusalem by Rabbi Noah Weinberg z”l in 1974. Aish HaTorah’s goal is to revitalize the Jewish people by providing opportunities for Jews of all backgrounds to discover their heritage in an atmosphere of open inquiry and mutual respect. Aish HaTorah is regarded as a world leader in creative Jewish educational programs and leadership training.

[3] Aish’s educational philosophy is that Judaism is not all or nothing; it is a journey where every step counts, to be pursued according to one’s own pace and interest. Mitzvot (commandments) are not rituals, but opportunities for personal growth, to be studied and understood. We learn the Torah’s wisdom to enrich our own lives, and to share these ideas with all humanity.

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