Thursday, October 23, 2008

Careful what you say

Rachel understands so much of what we say. It's beginning to scare me a little. We're going to have to start to be careful about what we talk about when she's around because she's picking up on concepts I didn't think a 1 year old could understand...

It doesn't help that Andrew, who is so erudite and deliberate in his academic papers, is a little less attentive of his dinner table conversations.

Last night we were talking about the Israel/Palestine issue. It's a common topic at our house. These things happen when your husband is majoring in Middle East studies and happens to be taking a Palestinian Refugee course.

Andrew's ancestors on his father's mother's side are Jewish. That is only slightly interesting until you consider his father's father's side. When you learn that his ancestors on his father's father's side were from Nazi Germany things get a little comical. No wonder Andrew's always confused.

Anyway, sometimes we joke about moving to Israel and living on a kibbutz if nothing else (like a job or future education) works out for us. It's kind of been our pseudo backup plan. Of course, it's all just a big joke. But we only joked about it because he is a Jew by heritage and Israel offers citizenship to Jews, so it was kind of a real possibility.

At least, we were under the impression that it was a real possibility. Andrew learned in his Palestinian Refugee course, though, that it's actually not a possibility. He's not religiously Jewish and so we're already out on that count, but even his "racial" Jewishness doesn't count because it's on his father's side.

According to the 1950 Law of Return, section 4B (of the second amendment), "'Jew' means a person who was born of a Jewish mother..."

I was naive enough to ask why.

My knowledge of Judaism is pretty rudimentary, but from reading the Old Testament I'm pretty sure that they recorded their genealogy father-to-son. Movies like Fiddler on the Roof seem to confirm such patriarchal notions.

Apparently, though, you can only become an Israeli citizen through your mother.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because," Andrew said, "It's easy to verify who your mother is because you come out of her butt."

See what I mean about his lack of eloquence at the dinner table?

"It's not so easy to know who your father is," He continued.

I was a little annoyed, both at his use of the word "butt" and that Israel would question the fidelity of their women. Of course, Andrew and I both happen to descend from illegitimate children on our fathers' fathers' sides so maybe I can understand how and why they'd question the both the fidelity of their women and the Jewishness of their offspring. I mean, maybe the fathers of our illegitimate ancestors were Jewish. We have no way of knowing for sure.

Rachel looked a little confused about the whole conversation so Andrew decided he'd give her a lesson about babies, using the word "butt" several more times.

"Babies come out of their mommy's butts. You came out of Mommy's butt and I came out of Grandma's butt."

"Thanks, honey, for that wonderful explanation," I sneered sarcastically.

"No problem," he said.

And with that we continued our dinner.

Later that evening when I had already completely forgotten about our dinner conversation, Rachel ran up behind me and started pushing on my rear end. She does that a lot when she wants me to go somewhere or do something with her. I turned around to see what she wanted.

She had her baby doll.

"Oh, do you want me to hold the baby?" I asked her, reaching down for her baby doll. Sometimes she likes me to hold it and burp it for her.

She shook her head and yanked the doll away from me. Then she ran behind me again and started pushing the baby into my rear again. When she was satisfied that she'd pushed it into my backside hard enough, she let it drop to the floor.

"Stop that, Rachel. What are you doing?" I asked.

For lack of ability to explain herself any other way, this question prompted another episode of Rachel smashing poor baby doll into my rear end and dropping her to the floor.

It took us a few minutes to realize that Rachel was enacting the birthing process as she had come to understand it at the dinner table that evening. Wonderful.

Thanks, honey, for that wonderful explanation. Now she "knows" where babies come from and I know that she knows the word "butt." By the way, dear, I so much more prefer the word "bum."


  1. I am laughing so hard that tears are flowing! Andrew is so weird!

  2. You know that is totally a legit concern and Jewish people aren't the only ones that have reason to be concerned. In England they did this paternity study on this one family line and I think they found something like twenty percent of people who had the family name actually didn't have the family genes...meaning pre being able to get a paternity test at your local drug store people were sneaking one over on their husbands...icky!

  3. Someday are you going to tell Andrew that babies do not, in fact, come out of a woman's butt?


  4. I may...

    But I was thinking I should really leave that up to professionals, so I figure I'll just send him to school with Rachel on "that" day--whenever it is that they do it now (jr. high, elementary, kindergarten, whenever).

    And I'm just kidding about the kindergarten part, btw!

  5. Haha... oh the innocence of youth...and I am talking about Rachel!

  6. I laughed at work out loud. Thanks.

  7. I can't stop laughing! Not only is the whole mother's mother's and father's mother's and all of that a little confusing (it's almost my bedtime) I can also picture the same kind of conversation at our dinner table and the same reaction from Karen (and soon from Rachel too!) BTW, I'm pretty sure we've got some funny illigitimate ancestry going on too...It makes you almost wonder where you're really from...

  8. I can so relate! They listen to the wrong stuff so often! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Hilarious Nancy! I laughed so hard today and it was what I needed so thankyou :)

    Andrew was there right, when Rachel was born?

    BTW (this one is for Andrew...)
    I SO prefer the word Butt as opposed to Bum (sorry Nancy!)

    Love you guys

  10. I'm on Nancy's side with this one... bum is just, well... so much less, I don't know. Something. :)
    And this is so funny!! I love it.
    I guess I've always thought Jewish lineage was matriarchal (ie whether you're Jewish or not) - I had just assumed that, since Christ's Jewishness obviously didn't come from his father's side of the family... :)

  11. Abra, yes, Andrew was right there...with the nail clippers. I love you, too!

    Heidi, I think you were looking for "so much less crude." Derriere probably is better all around. :)