Thursday, September 19, 2013

Disappeared From Kindergarten

Tuesday 27th August - DD started back at Kindergarten after a month's holiday (the first month of the holiday I sent her to summer day-camp). 16 children, including DD, were continuing from last year and there were 10 new children starting.

I asked the assistant teacher if DD had forgotten all her Hebrew after the break. She told me that she was a little bit quiet but understood everything. "She's fine. We have one girl who can't speak a word of Hebrew." I asked if she was an English speaker, thinking we might be able to help her. "No, she's Russian."

DD is currently obsessed with long hair (including her own). When I collected her I saw, from the back, a little girl with beautiful long, thick, blonde hair. "Ooh, hasn't she got beautiful hair," I said to DD. She replied wistfully, "Yes, it's beautiful!"

Monday 16th September - After only 2 1/2 weeks the schools broke up again for another two weeks until all the religious holidays are over. DD was at day-camp for the first three days with 20 children from kindergarten to 2nd grade. It was run by a lovely lady called Mira.

I got an email during the morning from DD's teacher, co-signed by the head-teacher of the school. It had obviously been sent out to all the parents in the school. With great sorrow they announced that a terrible tragedy had occurred. A girl from our kindergarten and her brother in 1st grade had died in unusual circumstances. The police were investigating. No names were released.

We were asked not to speak to the media or allow our children to be exposed to the media. We were asked not to discuss it with the children and, should they hear something from another source and ask, we should not give any details but answer them in the broadest terms. The school would be open that evening with staff and psychologists for any parents who wanted to come in and talk.

My mind raced. DD has one friend at kindergarten with an older brother in the school. I was about to do a google search to see if I could find any information when the phone rang. It was a friend phoning to discuss an arrangement for the weekend. I opened my mouth to say hello and instead found myself sobbing down the phone. I could hardly get the words out. "A girl from DD's kindergarten has died and I don't even know who it is." After I'd calmed down a bit and told her what I knew, she told me that it was all over the news. "They're new Russian immigrants," she said. I felt relief that it wasn't someone I know. I hated myself for feeling relieved.

I found all the news stories. You can read one here. I recognised the building as being one undergoing renovations 10 minutes walk from where we live. One of the reports had a family photo of the children. Their faces were blurred out as the names had not yet been released, but I recognised the beautiful long blonde hair.

Tuesday 17th September - A journalist friend wrote a personal piece about how all the mothers in the neighbourhood, including herself, are shaken and upset. One detail was incorrect. It irritated me.

A few local friends on facebook posted heartfelt expressions of their shock. They received comments in reply from their friends expressing more shock and asking if they knew the family. Everyone wanted to be part of the tragedy. It irritated me.

A couple of friends private messaged me. I replied that yes, it was DD's kindergarten. We've been asked not to talk about it. (Well fb is media isn't it?) I was irritated.

A friend of the friend I'd spoken to on the phone the previous day called to see if I was OK. "I hope they're not going to make a big thing about this at school. They're only five!" I was irritated - why assume that the school will get it wrong?

I was easily irritated. It wasn't them, it was me. Everyone was dealing and expressing themselves in their own way. Everything came from love and kindness as well as shock.

On the way to collect DD from day-camp I met another mother, a friend, whose son is in the brother's 1st grade class. She was worrying over what to tell the children. "Don't tell them anything," I advised. "If they ask say 'hu avar lemakom aher.' (He's 'gone' to another place.) In Hebrew the word 'avar' is used for 'moving' and also 'passing'. It sounds like he moved to another school. (Btw - this mother didn't irritate me at all. I now understand the power of support groups for same-situation people.)

That evening I counted the number of days they'd been in school this year - only 12 actual days of school followed by a 15 day break. I am sure DD won't even remember the girl. I think they will quietly remove her name from her tray and take down her pictures from the wall. She will disappear and kindergarten will go on.

Wednesday 18th September - We came home from shopping in the afternoon to find an email from DD's teacher that had been sent that morning. The funeral for Igor and Mira, may they rest in peace, will take place today at 11am.

At no time did DD tell me that they have another Mira in their kindergarten, which is what she usually does if we meet someone with the same name as someone else we know. I don't think she even knew little Mira's name.

I would have wanted to go to the funeral, if I'd found someone to babysit DD for a couple of hours. I don't know the grieving family or their friends but I feel a bit guilty. It seems like heaping betrayal upon betrayal. Following the ultimate betrayal of  being killed by your own mother, we are now disappearing her from our kindergarten and hoping the children have forgotten about her. I wanted to say, "We do care about you Little Mira. You are not nothing. All the mummies and daddies have cried for you this week and will remember you for a long time. Rest in peace sweet, lovely girl with the beautiful, long, blonde hair."