Monday, September 18, 2006

My potty training miracle...and other things

So much to blog about, so little time these days.

Of course I could write about the unity government- which, as I told Pacifica Radio the other day, won't mean squat so far as the US is concerned; in fact, nothing the government does ever will ever mean squat until the recognition of Palestinian rights becomes an equal precondition for the resumption and advancement of peace, negotiations, etc.

Its so sad to think that the US and Israel have done everything possible to undermine this government without really thinking of the consequences; then, those consequences are irrelevant to them-to heck with financial mismanagement (of US money) as long as they do what we say! sooner or later, our govt will collapse or resign or be forces to disband, and we will see a reign of anarchy and return to the cronyism and malfeasance of the past with the new, improved Fateh party-just what the US wants, and what Palestinians don't.

I was thinking the other day, imagine how the news broadcasts would read if the situation was reversed:

"Thousands of Jewish families are on the brink of starvation and the Israeli economy on the verge of collapse after the sixth month of a US and EU imposed boycott, staunch blockade of any international aidm, and hermetic sealing of all the borders; Officials say aid can only resume once the Israeli government, responsible for multiple terrorist attacks that have killed scores of Palestinian civilians, recognizes a Palestinian state, renounces violence against the Palestinians, and accepts and implements all previous peace agreements in their fullest."

HAHAHA. Yeah right. But seriously, who out there can deny that they would find such news MORE appalling and skin curling that the same policies against Palestinians, reminscient of the holocaust even?

But Palestinains, well, they are just less human, so its ok.

But the REALLY big news this week has nothing to do with politics at all. Forget the pope's ill-advised comments, or the fate of Gilad Shalit, who, my cousin jokes, will eventually go home, only to pine for Gazan Shatta and Dagga, and the days of starry, shell-filled nights;

No, the really big news, which I'm sure will make no other headline than my own, is that I have, it seems successfully potty trained Yousuf!

(pause for cheers, applause).

Ok, I know this seems so trivial in the realm of things, but you have no idea what this seemingly insignificant advancement has meant for me: no more changing 5 diapers a day, which get nastier exponentially with age; or buying those diapers-which you never realize how much you shell out for until you are through with them; no more changing diapers in extremely uncomfortable settings, such as borders crossings with tanks pointed at you; and on and on.

How did it happen, you might ask?

How do these things ever happen? Frankly, I wish I knew, so I could have something in the way of more empirically sound advice to offer to people. The reality is, it just happened. Suddenly and unexpectedly, without warning. Honestly. I suppose my neighbour's advice was correct: They finally tire of the routine, and one day, they'll just go.

After months and months of potty training preparation, hard core training, application of every method in the book, frustrations, bags of reward candies, I had nearly given up. I had resigned myself to the fact that my son would go to Kindergarden, dressed fashionably in plus size pampers.

And then one morning, as I was on my computer, Yousuf interrupted his play to announce that he needed to pee and was going to the bathroom. "Right right" I thought to myself "the bathroom". "You're a monkey, why use the bathroom when the carpet does perfectly fine?". But before I finished the thought, I did a double take, and sure enough, my little monkey had gone to the bathroom, attempted to pull down his pants, and pee on his own.

What did I do to deserve such a moment? On the verge of tears, I thought it was too good to be true, so I decided not to immediately blog about it. I also decided to test that it was not a one time thing by placing him in underwear the entire day; and time after time, he peed-and pooped-in the bathroom; and when it came time for naptime, I hesitated at first, but decided to throw away the diapers once and for all.

And to my astonishment-HE DIDN'T PEE ON HIMSELF IN HIS SLEEP EITHER! It was indeed a modern day miracle!

SO far, my little monkey has been diaper-free for two weeks and counting. Now I won't deny its taken some additional training to make sure he understands how he needs to hold his pee, and not let the first few drops trickle onto his big boy underwear, but I think as of a few days ago, we have that down too.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Gaza's darkness

A few months ago, I spoke about the plight of ten Gaza students of occupational therapy in Bethlehem University. Except they've never been to Bethlehem. How, then, do they study, one might wonder? Try: videoconference, remote control, and out of country lab work.

And of course, without electricity, well, you can bet there are no classes.

Like almost everything else for Gaza's besieged population, welcome to the twilight zone.

Its all part of a long-standing sweeping Israeli-imposed ban that prevents residents of the Gaza Strip from studying at institutions of higher learning in the West Bank-and from traveling to the WB or Jerusalem in general and which predates the democratic election of Hamas's Change and Reform Party.

I've talked a lot about the various ways the laws affects people, from my brilliant neighbour B. who had to forfeit her masters degree in engineering because her permit continued to be denied, to her neighbour who went blind waiting for his health permit, and of course, my own continued denial to travel to the WB to attend press and academic conferences and meet friends and relatives.

GISHA, along with the Gaza Community Mental Health Program and Bitona, continues to fight the students' legal battle, and Haaretz has published a detailed article about their case today, interviewing the occupational therapy students (an artticle I started myself, and never finished!).

As part of the public campaign, the organizations published a quarter-page ad in today's Haaretz , signed by 200 Israeli professors and lecturers, asking the defense minister to undo the ban.

Of course, the ban is in the context of the larger Israel matrix of administrative control, also affecting the lives of people like my dear friend Sam Bahour, A Palestinian-American from el-Birah who has lived there for the past 15 years, and is now being expelled from his own home because suddently the powers that be say his permit is no longer valid. See Amira Hass's article, THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF EXPULSION, here.

Sam tells me he's fighting it out in the courts till his final breath.

Meanwhile, check out Gideon Levy's GAZA'S DARKNESS in yesterda's Haaretz, lest we forget, well, Gaza's darkness.