Monday, May 17, 2004

This, That, & the Other

Extreme Nursing

I got a free subscription to Mothering magazine awhile ago. I thought it would be a nice alternative to the glossy, ultra-consumerist rags like Parents or American Baby, with their 10-page photo spreads of Pottery Barn-perfect rooms and $90 Baby Dior swimsuits and dire warnings against co-sleeping. But my god – this magazine really puts the “dippy” in “hippy-dippy.” On the very first page is a snapshot of a strapping, chubby-cheeked 3 ½ year old boy celebrating at his (long overdue, in my opinion) “weaning party”. In front of him is a cake lavishly decorated with pink-frosting boobs topped with shiny licorice nipples. Seriously! Now, I am about as La Leche League as they come, but . . . ewwwww!

But maybe I shouldn’t talk. How many times did I swear I would wean my kids long before I became one of those crazy earth mamas I always make fun of? And yet the other night I was happily camped out on the couch watching American Idol when Baby Bee ran from the other room, lifted up my shirt, leaned over and took a quick swig before taking off again. I just sat there stunned, feeling like nothing more than a human drinking fountain. Chef just shook his head quietly and muttered “Just promise me you’ll stop before she starts calling them by name. . .”

I Need to Win the Lottery

Tomorrow I am taking Baby Bee to the JCC to look at their K’Tan Tan program, which meets two days a week for kids from 16 months to 2 years. When she turns two, she can transfer directly to the nursery school there where she can go up to five days a week. The program sounds marvelous – the kids sing and dance and play and celebrate Shabbat with fresh-baked challah every Friday. Unfortunately it is also in a horribly inconvenient location as far across town as possible, and incredibly expensive considering I have to purchase a family membership for over $600 for Bee to even be eligible to enroll. So why am I sending her there? There are lots of great nursery schools that are less pricey and closer to home, but I must admit I instinctively recoil at the idea of her coming home with Easter Baskets and Christmas cookies, humming Jingle Bells to herself. Providing her with a solid, positive Jewish identity is important to me – and the JCC program will encourage her growth and development while celebrating our wonderful foods, holidays, songs and traditions.

At the same time, part of me – the harried, frustrated, middle class working mom part of me – can’t help but chafe against the indisputably astronomical cost of being even a moderately observant Jew. I am not even THAT religious, so I don’t have the added expense of, say, purchasing Kosher chicken and buying two full sets of dishes and flatware for meat and dairy. But still, when I add up the costs of synagogue and JCC membership and Sunday School fees and nursery school, the totals knock me off my chair. And that is without factoring in future expenses like Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, summer camp, and the vertigo-inducing tuition at the Jewish Day School I hope Bee will attend. Logically I know that none of these institutions are exactly rolling in money – in fact I am sure some are working at a considerable deficit – but I can’t shake this feeling that the prohibitive cost of even the most basic requirements of Jewish affiliation creates an elitism within the community which often makes me feel very alienated.

A Slightly More Trivial Matter

Chef picked up a wonderful little impulse item at Costco this weekend, the Gazillion Bubble Machine. You pour the liquid into the top, flip the switch, and immediately you are transported to the set of the Lawrence Welk show, surrounded by hundreds of floating iridescent globes. The kids were thrilled with it at first, squealing and laughing and chasing the bubbles all over the yard. After about five minutes they got bored and wandered across the lawn to play in their favorite patch of dirt. I, however, kept the machine going in their absence. I found it extraordinarily relaxing to work on the Sunday Times crossword puzzle while immersed in a frothy swirl of bubbles.


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