We had a great Sukkot and said goodbye longingly to the sukkah (and to my in-laws who were visiting) recently. While we had great fun in many locations, one event sticks out in my mind as so typically Israeli.
The first Friday of our vacation, we decided that it would be fun to take the new Lightrail into Jerusalem. We enjoyed the trip to town a great deal; it was clean on the train, nearly empty and comfortable.
The return trip, however, was another story. Trying to get on the train at 1:30 in the afternoon from the Ben Yehuda area on a Friday wasn’t the smartest of ideas. Yakir, who is incredibly rigid with his sleep habits, hadn’t napped all day, and I knew I was going to be in for a long ride as we entered the packed compartment. There was barely enough space to push through the crowd with the stroller, and I hung on as I stood with Yehuda and nudged my way aboard. Yakir was facing away from me in the stroller, and there wasn’t an ounce of extra space. I had no idea how I was going to soothe him, let alone pick him up, should the need arise.
Well, I thought to myself, here we go.
As the train started to move, Yakir’s whining began. Ironically, I smiled. Looking around, I knew exactly what was about to happen.
“Give him the bottle already!” said one middle-aged woman to Yehuda, my 9 year old who was standing next to Yakir.
When that didn’t work and Yakir rejected the bottle, the real parenting advice began.
“Oy, you need to rock him.”
“No,” said another passenger, “Try the bottle again. I think he’ll take it now.”
“No,” said another, “I think she’s going to need to pick him up.”
And on and on it went. Everyone on the train had a suggestion, and everyone was trying to help me to soothe my exhausted child. Yehuda worked on getting him out of the stroller, and two people jumped up from nearby to help since I couldn’t reach the baby. Placed in my arms, Yakir arched his back and screamed so more.
“Here! Here!” yelled an older man, giving up his seat for me.
“No, I really can’t take your seat….” I started to protest, to deaf ears.
I saw that no one was going to listen to me – and that I was going to take that seat whether I wanted to or not. A bit embarrassed by the fuss they were making over me, I took the seat.
Sitting was no better than standing, and Yakir kept at it.
That’s when my seatmate made it her personal mission to get Yakir laughing. Playing peek-a-boo, making animal noises, and being generally silly, she finally got him giggling. Then, we started a very intellectual discussion about various animal noises.
“Dogs say “How How” in Hebrew,” she said.
“Well, they say “Woof Woof” in English,” I replied.
And on it went, discussing cat noises, rooster sounds, cow impersonations and more.
My seatmate exited, and it was soon our stop. Parting ways for us to exit, our trainmates wished us a Shabbat Shalom and blew kisses at the now-calm baby.
Now, I don’t ride public transportation often in Israel, and I’m sure there are times when tired riders aren’t so jovial or willing to help. But it sure was a lovely experience to see so many Israelis joining forces to help one exasperated mom and a tired baby on a crowded train ride one Friday afternoon.
The joys of life in Israel…again.