Okay it works. The three steps of survival – Prevention – Positive Reinforcement and Consequences (from last week’s blog). The last week of our holiday has been much, much better and contained when we put these principles into action. Besides a couple of accidents and the usual oopsy daisy behaviours (like Prince No. 2 waking up Prince No. 3 whilst Dave and I were out last night and therefore giving their uncle who was kindly babysitting a very hard time.) So no the Princes are not reformed, have no fear. (To be honest I don’t know if that will ever happen. Do I want it to happen?)

The best thing we could have done this holiday was book into Kibbutz Ramat Rachel for the week where they have a kids program. Notably we can’t just dump the kids. (I tried.) Let’s just say that I spent an inordinate amount of time cheering the Princes as they did potato sack races, threw balls into small holes and flung rings around witches hats (that’s what we call those triangle orange cones in Australia.) We cheered Prince No. 1 playing soccer as ‘South Africa’ against ‘USA’ – two american boys a year older than him. South Africa won. (Better than Bafana what can I say.) I’ve played memory and dominos with Prince No. 3 who never played these games before. We’ve wined and dined three meals a day with them. (I’m rolling off the plane. I’ve had to institute a one plate policy. These buffets are absolutely dangerous.) And we’ve been relaxed because it’s a hotel with shrieking kids every bit as whiney and messy as my dear Princes. (Such a relief to know that they don’t have copyright on bad boy behaviour.)

Have you noticed anything? I have as I’ve been typing. What I’ve been describing is HOURS of quality time. What we never ever ever do with our kids during normal, slugging through lift schemes, life. Now that’s a holiday. Of course it helps keeping two days Chag where you can’t go anywhere. (That’s a positive attitude if there ever was one. I still can’t believe I am going to be eating Matza whilst the rest of Israel is eating croissants.) I’ve really enjoyed getting to be with the Princes more. Seeing them in action with other kids. Being there to hold them when one of them falls in their potato sack race and cries his eyes out (claiming they have a splinter in his hand. Of course he wasn’t crying because he lost.) Being there to cheer as one of the Princes learns that he can swing the ring over the witches hat, and his coordination is better than he (or I) thought.

So gone is my belief that we should be doing as much as possible on holiday (okay in Israel it’s more like eat as much as possible at as many different coffee shops and restaurants – a gastronomic trip) it’s we are together for as much as possible BEING.

And no I’m not going to romanticise it. I’ve also seen the holes in the Princes. Where they need extra reigning in as well as extra love. I’m not tough enough as a mum and maybe also not present enough to be tough. I do want everything to be just perfect without lifting a finger. (It’s a problem when you believe in magic.) But I’m facing that more effort is needed in those areas. Like for example Prince No. 2 really needs to learn that any patch of grass is not the loo. And yes they also need to learn that their hands are not good substitutes for forks and knives.

So all in all this holiday has been a real family holiday. With all the yummy ups and screaming downs. Of course you don’t have to go to Israel to experience it. It can be in your own backyard. All it takes is time. Our most precious commodity yet.

And for those of you interested just a few words about Israel. The coffee is amazing. Okay don’t laugh at me. I’m being serious. Last time I was here I searched high and low for a good cup of coffee. I found it eventually (after many bad cups) on Emek Refaim. For me the fact there’s now wonderful cappuccinos in every coffee shop (even garage coffee shops) is yet another proof of how advanced Israel is. How evolving, changing and growing. And that’s what I love. The energy and willingness to learn and improve. Wonderful qualities that I can certainly learn from. Someone who’s willing to change and grow can go anywhere, be anything.

What I’m also enjoying is the all encompassing feeling of Pesach. The whole country is celebrating. All the kids are on holiday. Everyone a week and a half before Pesach are wishing each other, ‘Chag Sameach’. The food is amazing and all the restaurants (in Jerusalem at least) are Kosher for Pesach. We’ve had delicious ravioli, amazing  goats cheese laffas and cheese burekas as well as Pesach bread.  It all looks like Chametz which is a bit disconcerting as well as exhilarating as the chefs push their culinary boundaries.

And to sum the feeling I’m getting let’s just say that as I type this I look out my window here from Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim, Jerusalem (my new favourite coffee hang out – the waiters know me by now). I see a bus drive by with its signage on the front flashing ‘Pesach Kosher VeSameach – A Kosher and Happy Pesach’ and it feels like home.