Parenting, literally and figuratively.

Parenting is hard. I’m not complaining, mind you, just stating a fact. Allow me to illustrate with two anecdotes.

Having a fever of 102°F sucks.
Being less than 13 months old with a fever of 102°F sucks a couple of ways. First, you have no idea why you feel so crappy; you have no life experience on which to base a conclusion. Second, you can’t communicate to your caretakers exactly what hurts or feels bad, so you get frustrated, which just exacerbates your already crappy situation.
Being the parent of an infant with a 102°F fever also sucks in multiple ways. I am cognizant of all the ways my baby’s situation sucks, which sucks for me too. Plus, when there’s no easily discernible cause for the fever, I find myself (with, since I’m exceedingly lucky, my lovely wife) grasping for possible causes, treatments and cures without getting too panicky or frustrated.

The good news is, barring major disease or infection, the suckiness goes away in relatively short order. And so it was over this weekend, when Hadarya developed said fever on Saturday evening, after an intense afternoon of playing at D’s birthday party. Jenn and I had one of the most difficult nights we’ve experienced as parents, up frequently with our daughter, trying to calm and soothe her. And today, other than a wacky, nap-less existence and a steady 100° fever most of the day, things were almost normal. Hadarya has tended to do these sort of things on weekends when it’s least disruptive to our work schedule, which some might see as considerate, and normal for her is so great that it’s easy to forget the tough, sleepless nights and whiny, fussy days. we’re still not entirely out of the woods, as she’s been waking up crying intermittently as I write this, but hopefully we’ll get through this night not too much worse for the wear.

On to parenting of another sort, and the letting go that it entails: Immediately upon my arrival in San Diego in 1999, I visited the Hillel house at SDSU and became active there, as I had been at UCLA, particularly on Israel-related events. Through Hillel, I connected with the larger Jewish community, including the Israel Center, the local Federation‘s Israel activities hub. (It was this connection that hooked me up with a memorable gig as a counselor on a teen summer trip to Israel. That’s a story for another time.) One of the first major events I had a hand in was the annual commemoration of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. I don’t know off the top of my head if the San Diego Jewish community held a ceremony to mark the anniversary before I arrived, but organizing this event and ensuring the participation of a variety of youth, student, and other community groups was one of my pet projects in those first years.

Since then, I’ve remained an active participant in that ceremony (and the Yom HaZikaron ceremony), whatever form it took. My participation has included MCing the event, translating songs, poems, speeches, and other readings for inclusion in the ceremony, and other duties. This year, I was so busy being a dad and dealing with other things that I didn’t notice that I hadn’t been contacted about the ceremony until I saw community-wide publicity for it. I was so impressed by the professional quality of the publicity materials and elated about the ceremony’s change of venue (to the JCC, which we’d tried and failed repeatedly to utilize over the last several years) that it didn’t dawn on me until more recently that I still hadn’t been contacted about participating.

Lunch this past week with my good buddy Ronen, the outgoing Maccabi shaliach, cleared up a great deal of my confusion, and made me anxious to see what the ceremony would be like, now that it had grown up and gone off on its own, so to speak. I was one of a couple of hundred people in the audience in the theater at the JCC tonight, and there were definitely mixed feelings, as I imagine there will be when I watch my actual children taking their first (literal and figurative) steps. Other than the jarringly theatrical biographical vignettes (performed by the J*Company kids, who are, after all, a theater group), the biggest misstep as far as I was concerned was the use of my translation of Chaim Chefer’s powerful poem Hayinu keCholmim (We Were As Dreamers) without any credit given. While I’m assuming goodwill and/or ignorance on the part of the organizers and granting that they may not have known who translated the piece, I’ll be writing the Israeli community shaliach a letter voicing my disappointment at 1) not being consulted at all on this year’s ceremony, and 2) not being recognized, even privately, for the work I did in the past, like this translation.

The ceremony wasn’t all bad by any means. Another friend, Jessie Blank, performed a beautiful, powerful rendition of Naomi Shemer’s Oh Captain, My Captain, a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking free translation of the Walt Whitman elegy for Lincoln that Shemer wrote in the days immediately following Rabin’s murder. And the always reliable Zeji Ozeri (why, yes, he’s a friend of mine too, why do you ask?) led the singing of Shir LaShalom; neither listening to that singer nor that song will ever get old. Finally, Prof. Michael Bar-Zohar, a former MK and friend of Yitzhak Rabin, who’s written biographies of Ben Gurion and Shimon Peres, shared some personal anecdotes that made me feel more directly connected to Israel and the events and personalities of Nov. 4, 1995, this year than many previous years.
Aside: Huh. So this is what it feels like to blog daily. I like it!