Monthly Archives: November 2009

Latest nonsense

I picked up my boots from the cobbler at the local mall – they had needed to be reheeled. He put them in a plastic carrier bag for me. I thought nothing of it. I carried on my merry little way in the shopping centre, only to be stopped by a well meaning person wanting to tell me that I should turn my carrier bag inside out. Whyever should I do that, Mrs KnowItAll? Well, you wouldn’t want anyone thinking you actually shop at Marche Adonis, do you? (A non-kosher grocery store that probably stocks products that are kosher.)

Puhleeze, what next??!! They gonna tell me I cannot wear French Connection UK clothing???

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Gratuities for the teachers?

There is an unofficial unwritten rule in our yeshiva that you are supposed to tip the rebbes at Purim time. There has been no official guideline set out, and I never do it. Why? A) because I already pay tuition and B) they are getting paid a salary to teach my kid and C) because I do not have that kind of money to tip four rabbeim!! (I have heard of them getting in the hundreds from one parent.)

Last night a bunch of us were having a conversation on this subject, after a couple of people had received letters from their children’s yeshivot outlining the Chanukah tip suggestions. Rebbeim are supposed to get more than Morahs (male teachers vs female – don’t get me started) and some of the suggested tips went up to $360!!!

In this economy who has extra money? Private school tuition takes a huge chunk out of one’s salary, plus all the other extras you have to pay for – dinner, book fees, building fund, photocopying fee, get-you-every-which-way-we-can fee etc. How dare they send a letter saying you should tip the teachers??!!

I tip the superintendent in my building at Xmas time. He does a lot extra for me and I slip him a bill. He doesn’t expect it nor ask for it and it is MY choice whether to tip him or not. He will not treat me any differently whether I do or don’t.

The teachers – if you do not tip them, will they mark your child down? If you do tip, does s/he get higher grades? Does tipping only apply if they are doing a good job? We are all hurting financially in this economy – and I get that teachers are not paid that well in yeshivas – but who has extra money for this? Do the teachers count on this? Do they report the tips to the IRS? If one parent of every kid in a class of 24 gave a hundred dollars, that’s $2400 – a huge amount.  Do the teachers count on this for parnassah?

Its bad enough the government always has their hands in our wallets, now the schools too?


For a more in your face take on this subject go visit DovBear and read what he has to say.

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Wednesday’s Wacky Signs

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Dress shopping – total fail

I have a wedding to attend on Thursday. A very close friend of mine is getting herself hitched and we are all very excited to kick up our heels and celebrate with her and her new hubby. It is going to be awesome.

I wanted to have something new to wear, because, well, I wanted something new. I am perfectly aware I don’t need anything. I have a few fallback options in the closet, but I wanted to at least go and see what is available. After all, it is holiday season, and there are lots of party dresses on sale.

But what I failed to be notified about was that all of these party-going-women supposedly have the most toned arms ever, the most lovely shoulders, the most perfect cleavage and the longest legs, not forgetting the most perfect figure. Oh, and they also don’t mind being freezing cold in the middle of December! Seriously, every dress was either strapless, or with one shoulder strap, very short, very tight and very low cut. Leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. One sneeze and the dress could fall off!! Are there no women out there that want to wear sleeves? Or wear a longer dress or skirt? That don’t want to show their exact chest acreage?

Finally I found something almost modest – only it was for larger women. (Being skinny does bite sometimes.) Found something else that I could tzniusify (make modest) – three hundred buckaroos. No thank you. I left the malls empty handed. 5 malls. One woman. Not one dress or outfit that would have been perfect. And because I didn’t get the outfit, no shoes were bought.

I shall have to wear something I have worn before. Now I have to make that decision. Black or navy? Can I dance in comfort in it? Which shoes? Which purse?

Yeah I know, this should be my biggest problem….Amen!

So darling KoD, what shall we do with the money I saved today by not buying myself something pretty and new??

Edited to add – these are the two outfits to choose from :

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Important travel documents

Do you know what documents you need to travel out of the country with? Other than a passport that is valid for the next 6 months? Most people don’t. Being prepared can ease a lot of the stress one can potentially face at airports and border crossings. Some of this I have learned the hard way, some is just common sense. I have never regretted bringing a couple of file folders with me with potentially relevant documents.

Even when my ex and I were still married, if one of us travelled with the kids without the other parent, we made sure that the non-travelling partner took with a letter of permission to prove that the other parent is aware of where the children are and with whom. Now that we are divorced and I have custody, I still make sure every time I leave the country with the kids I get a letter from him. Most times they do not ask to see it, but they have asked a few times. You must always ensure that there is a contact phone number just in case. If you are travelling with children, and you are divorced, it is a good idea also to bring with a copy of your judgment of divorce that specifies custody. I have been asked to show it a time or two.

Because I have started the immigration process, I travel with copies of all the relevant forms. Just to back myself up if they want proof.

I bring my recent utility bills – it proves that I maintain a residence in Canada, and therefore probably do not pose a risk of staying in the destination country longer than my brief planned visit. I have had to show these at the border crossing a couple of months back. A recent pay stub is good too, along with a mortgage statement or a copy of a rent receipt.

If you are driving, you need your license and registration, and if it is NOT your car, you need a letter of permission from the owner of the car along with the registration for the car. The letter should state the license plate number, until when you have permission to drive it, and provide a contact number.

I remember once flying through the USA to get somewhere, and not having a ticket back into Canada as I had a friend that was going to drive me upon my return. At the airport in NY they gave me a hard time because I could not prove I had plans to return to Canada. A return ticket helps avoid that hassle.

If you are entering a foreign country for a conference or for a work purpose, you must be prepared to show proof. They have every right to quiz you on why you want to come into their country.

I also shlepp birth certificates (the long ones, that prove I am my kids mom), and my marriage certificate – I have nothing in my married name yet. In Quebec one doesn’t adopt one’s husband’s last name legally, and I have yet to be official in the States, so if for some reason I have to prove I am who I say I am, well, I have the marriage certificate to prove it.

Is there anything I have left out? What documents do you travel with “just in case”?

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A funny

My 7 year old said “Ima, how did you learn to be a good Ima?”

My answer “I practiced on your older brothers!”

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Honour your father and your mother

כבד את אביך ואת אמיך – Honour your father and your mother

We are commanded to honour our parents, so that we may live a long life. What is a child who is abused by a parent supposed to do? This is the fifth of the TEN commandments, the most important laws that we have. It isn’t a law to sneeze at. But if a parent hurts and abuses and causes pain to that child, is a child still commanded to honour their parent? What does honour mean in this circumstance? Does it mean honour the fact that they brought you into this world? Does it mean that when they are old and sick and dying you have to take care of them? Does it mean that you need to make them a part of your life, a life you have struggled to live on your terms despite the abuse that made it difficult to strike out on your own?

I have often wondered about this, having known several people who had very tough childhoods riddled with abuse – physical and emotional and every shade in between. I also find it interesting that we are not commanded to love our parents.

So I pose this question to my JewCrew – how do you interpret this commandment when it comes to a parentally abused child?

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What my blog is NOT

It is NOT a forum for any commenter to leave disgusting Lashon Horah and Rechilut (gossip) about people who don’t even know they are being talked about in such a disturbing manner. Madame Commenter, I deleted your comment and blocked your IP address and you will not be welcome to comment on any of my posts. Who do you think you are using MY blog to further your own revolting ends? What made you think I would be open to this kind of vitriol against one of my own people?

Get your own damn blog and leave mine the Hell alone!!

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Profile of a dangerous person?

I said goodbye to my KoD this morning, tucked my heart into his pocket, and began the 6 hour trek back to Montreal, to my babies. Ahem. Sorry. My big boys. My Boybies (that works for me).

The drive went really well, I didn’t even cry when the mushy romantic songs came on the radio. Took a concerted effort, but I did it. The roadwork has been finished up, so there was no going slow…the weather was perfect and I made excellent time.

I get to the US / Canada border and they have closed it off except for one booth a few yards before the usual line of booths at the Lacolle border crossing. It seems they are prescreening cars before allowing them to get to the regular border crossing booths. There is a much more obvious presence of border guards than usual.

No problem, I have my landed immigrant card, my passport, I do this a bajillion times a year. Piece of cake. Right? Noooo.

The cars ahead of me showed passports and sailed through. Initially the border guard did not take my passport from me. Started asking me the regular questions. All was fine until he asked me who I had been to see. I said my husband. Then he asked for the passport. He started quizzing me on the status of my marriage, who lives where, how often we see each other. Meanwhile his cohort was walking around my car peering in windows etc.

They asked me to pull over to the side, ma’am.

Who owns your vehicle? My neighbour.

Your neighbour lets you drive his car? Yes sir.

What does he drive? One of his other cars, sir. I have a letter authorizing me to use this vehicle, sir, would you like to see it?

I also told him he could check in the computer that I cross the border all the time with this car. He did so. And I was right. Wow.

Then he asks me, why are you not driving your own vehicle? I so wanted to say “because you idiots won’t let me drive my brand spanking new Town and Country Touring minivan with US plates into Canada (More info here) so it has to stay in our garage in Monsey collecting dust, and I have to drive this freaking rust bucket that’s older than I am, just so I can see my husband. That’s why the freaking hell I am not driving my own vehicle, rectal orifice!!” But instead, I replied sweetly, “because I don’t have one.” (May God forgive me for the lie, but I wanted to get out of there)

The guys were pounding on the panels of the car, looking underneath it, in the spare tire, pulling my suitcases apart. Looking in my make up kit, holding my excedrin bottle up to the light.

“What does your husband do in the states?”

“Where did you meet him?”

“What’s his name, address?”

“What company does he work for?”

“How much money does he give you?”

“What’s his salary”

“Did he give you anything to bring back?”

“How much child support and alimony do you get?”

“Where are your children?”

“Why did you leave them for the weekend?”

“Who has custody of your children? Prove it” (I carry my divorce and custody agreement with me whenever I cross the border)

“What’s your profession?”

“How do you pay the bills if you are a stay at home mom?” I answered “with difficulty”. He left it alone, smart man, because I was about to get ugly up in his face. They then started in again on the immigration questions. What? My answers were going to change?

Then I unwittingly caused some trouble for myself. I raised my left hand to smooth back my hair. My engagement ring caught the sun. They spent five minutes quizzing me on the provenance of the diamond on my finger. Do I have proof on me where it came from? Uh…no. Who carries that with them? If I was smuggling diamonds would I be so stupid as to wear it on my finger? They looked at my other rings too. Asked about those as well.  Asked what the pendant I wear means. I wear a gold letter “Hey” (fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet that starts off my name) that my great uncle made for me decades ago. No certificate of provenance for that either.

I was shaking. I knew I had nothing contraband on me, nothing I shouldn’t have, no drugs, tobacco or alcohol. No weapons. I was coming back into Canada, my home for the last fifteen and a half years, and they made me feel so very guilty. Of what, I have no clue. I was sweating and shaking. They had me standing by the side of the road for nearly 30 minutes while they quizzed me back and forth, both guards with hands resting on the butts of their weapons. They had a team go over the car. I know they were just doing their job, but come on, I so do not fit the profile of a terrorist or a drug smuggler. I am just a mom. That’s it that’s all.

Eventually they let me go. I had to sit in another line of cars for 30 minutes until I finally was able to cross the border. By the time I crossed I had calmed down. But now I am on a slow burn. Why did they pull me over? Did I fit a certain profile? Was it anti-Semitic? Why did they start to freak out when I said my husband lived in NY and I live in Montreal? Is this going to happen now every time I cross the border? Am I red flagged? Do I dare do the border crossing thing again? I am so sick of this back and forth, and of the border sagas. It’s time for those flippin’ visas to come already.

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Talk about something else!!!

My children are the best!! No really! They are! Those of us with children adore them and boast about them and know that they are the best kids on the planet. They do everything better, faster, they are stronger, more handsome, more everything than anyone else’s kids. Ok, you and I know that they are just kids, they are human, they mess up occasionally, and are really just your average children BH. We all like to boast occasionally and show off pictures and discuss milestones. It’s what parents do. No one is a more hands on mother than I. No one is prouder of her sons’ achievements than I. But I can talk about other things and other subjects, and I do. Often. And I enjoy being a person other than “Ima”.

We have some friends who it seems all they can talk about is their kids. When you relate any story about anything they find a way to tie it in with an anecdote about their kids. Anywhere you went on vacation, their kids went there, or knew someone who did. A new restaurant you went to – their kids wanted to try it. Every single conversation you have with them has to revolve around their kids. There is more to me than just being a mom. I love my kids with an endless passion. I do. However I don’t need to inject their awesomeness into every single conversation.

It’s come to the point that we don’t want to be around this couple any more. We can be talking politics or religion and every comment leads back to their children. Their children are smarter, brighter more accomplished that any other person in the world, apparently. You and I both know it isn’t true. Maybe deep down they feel that their kids have grown up and flown the coop, and therefore they have separation anxiety – the parents that is! But it seems every time they build up their kids in a conversation, it denigrates our kids. If I am telling over something funny that my kids said or did, their kids did or said something funnier. Like it’s a competition or something.

Look, I am not going to pretend that when we go out with other couples, that we don’t talk about the kids. We do. But in passing, or to tell one or two funny anecdotes. The subject of children does not overwhelm the conversation.

These people are educated professionals who have full lives. I wonder why it is that they cannot stop themselves interjecting their progeny into every discussion. They are wonderful people as individuals, and are more than just these kids’ parents. I want to tell them that their kids are great kids, but no more special than anyone else’s. They haven’t accomplished the impossible or found a cure for cancer, or won citizen of the year awards. They are just average grown up kids. Period.

It just stuck in my craw recently. Do you think there would be a point in telling them they are pushing people away with their obsessive talk about their kids?

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