Why I Can Vagabond My Kids All Over the World and Not Worry

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Yesterday, my kids started a new school. Not one of their friends from their old school are at their new school. It’s not in our neighborhood (or state; my mission is to have them try out Jewish schools in every American state and Canadian province and whatever they call them in the UK so that by the time they grow up, they will the world experts on Jewish schools. And NHL players, because that’s what they say they’re going to be. And doctors, because I always tack that on to NHL players). How will they make friends? Who will they talk to? Will it be like our arrival in the US a few years back when I got weekly calls from LL’s kindergarten teacher who would say encouraging things like “LL spoke in class today! I said his name and he whispered “Here.” Most of us even heard him!”?

In nervous anticipation of the transition, I turned–where else?–to Facebook. I scrolled through hundreds of friends. On the list: someone I spoke to twice at a conference in Barbados one year when she was dating someone who was a student in the program where The Scientist was a postdoc. She has since broken up with said student, who graduated, wrote a novel, and moved to England, and as for her, FB tells me she moved to Turkey and married a Turkish guy, and is having a birthday today, and all this is to say I am highly doubtful our paths will ever cross again, and I have no idea why she is on my friendlist. “Friend”? Marky Mark, can you come up with a variety of terms to designate these people who end up on our daily feeds?

Aha! I discover that a fellow who spent the year in Israel with The Scientist and me two decades ago has kids at the school my kids are about to attend. Thank you, Marky Mark. Loose ties are awesome. Sorry for the complaint.

I ding him. Back then, he was loud and obnoxious, which I don’t mean as an insult, because I’m also loud and obnoxious, and I was even louder and more obnoxious then. In fact, I rather liked him and his loud, obnoxious crowd.

He’s a rabbi now. Which somehow makes perfect sense. Who wants a quiet, mousy rabbi?

“We’re meeting Rabbi Loud’s kids tonight,” I tell my kids after arranging a date with his absolutely fabulous wife. “Please pretend you’re not obnoxious.” I have the word obnoxious in my head. Also, my kids are obnoxious. In fact, as I say this to them, they are beating each other with sticks. “You need to have friends in your new school.”

LL pshaws me. “Oh, mama, of course we’ll make friends.”

We arrive at their house, the kids all run off to play Wii, and they’re immediate besties. Guess LL was right.

He and Cool J start school. They’ll be taking the bus, but I drive them on the first day, worried they will be worried. They are not worried. I go home, and I wait anxiously for them to return. “Hey, Mama,” they call out as they burst through the door. They are all smiles. I ask a hundred questions; they ask to play Wii. “Can you tell me one thing?” I ask. “Did you have any friends? Did you talk to Rabbi Loud’s son?” LL looks at me like I’m crazy. “Of course I did,” he says. “He’s my best friend.” “He is?” “Well, of course he is. He’s the only person I know!”

I get fewer details from Cool J, but today he comes home with double the smile he had on yesterday. “Did you have fun at school?” I ask. “YES!! It was the best day at school ever!!” “It was?” I ask, delighted. “Well, sure,” he says. “It was better than yesterday, and there have only been two days, so it was the best day at school EVER!”

My kids are happy, positive people. Sometimes I think LL has something of my grandmother’s spirit in him (she was rather a glass half empty kind of person), but maybe I’m just mixing them up because they both love(d) to eat matzah year-round. Remind me of this when I’m obsessively scrolling through my FB friendlist next year in anticipation of our move to the UK.

new school

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