Kibbutz Chic

I have one pair of “skinny” jeans. I bought them at the Gap outlet in Jersey Gardens right before moving to Israel. I wish I had bought more than one because they have become my favorite pair of pants since moving here.

Not because my butt looks great. (Although, maybe it does. You will have to ask my husband or someone who often walks behind me.) But because my skinny jeans fit best inside my ultra-fashionable green polka-dotted Wellington boots — which are the shoes I wear most around here. The skinny jeans and boots look is deceiving, though. Anyone who knows me well understands that I’m only fashionable by accident.

Having arrived here in winter (which is the rainy season in Northern Israel), I’m having a hard time trusting the folks who keep assuring me, “we need the rain.” They all to swear to me there wasn’t a drop of rain in December, and the rain came in with us, but that’s no consolation for the regular piles of stinking muddy socks. What’s worse is that the chemical-free, eco-conscious brand of laundry detergent I brought here from the States is no match for kibbutz mud or the mineral-heavy water.  No matter how long I soak and scrub their clothes, my kids still look dirty.

I probably wouldn’t even bother washing their clothes at all — since they are just putting them back on to go sit in Gan sand or dig through the mud behind the Migrash*– if it weren’t for the smell. Last week, my two-year-old daughter fell into a man-made puddle (man-made because it’s a hole no one has bothered to fill up), and she smelled like a dead cow that had rolled around in his own feces for two days before he died.

The smell was so wretched I considered throwing away her clothes. But then I looked at the tags and I realized they were from Old Navy, which is like saying Barneys here in Israel. Mustn’t throw the baby clothes out with the bath water…

I promise you, my kids look filty, but smell fresh.  And not the kind of synthetic fresh that makes you want to hold your breath or grab your government-issued gas mask. But, squeaky clean from nightly baths (together, to save water) in Castile soap I had my father-in-law buy in bulk on his recent trip to the States.

Considering what the water has already done to my hair and our clothes, I try to be diligent about brushing my kid’s teeth. Not about brushing their hair, though, because I don’t want to get too attached. I have a strong feeling that I will have to shave our heads once lice season arrives. 

There is one day of the week I recognize my formerly well-groomed and fairly tidy children. On Shabbat morning, I can actually pick out my ragamuffins from the others — they don their handsome clothes, clean teeth, and combed hair. 

This past Shabbat my littlest rugrat was confused. “Ima,” she called as she wandered from leg to leg. “Ima, where are you?” She couldn’t find the boots — the rain had finally stopped long enough for me to put them out to dry and trade them for crocs.

What? You think we wear heels to synagogue here on the kibbutz? We’d sink faster than you could say Manolo Blahnik.

That is, if I was fashionable enough to know how to say it. 

Migrash = Open space (here it’s the area where the playground and ball courts are)
Ima= mommy

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