Kish Kush Balabush – “What are these words,” I wondered when my three year old son came home from Gan randomly singing these words to himself. These are words that Spell-check simply can’t accept. It sounds like an Israeli Boogie Man, and as such it became a joke between us. I would call him Kush Kush Balabush, and we would laugh and laugh, and he would insist, ‘No, I’m not Kish Kush Balabush.’

I thought to ask my Ulpan teacher if she’d heard of these strange, primitive words, that sound like they should be chanted around a black cauldron. ‘Yes, of course,’ she explained. ‘They describe a drawing that’s a scribble.’ Suddenly it was all clear. Despite the fact I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a deeper meaning to these magical words, which we had so much fun with, I understood a messy, careless drawing has a name, a really fun name in Hebrew, Kish Kush Balabush.

Whilst these words surely belong in a children’s book, the more I think of it the more I think how marvelous it is to have a word for an off the wall squiggle by littlies on a page. It gives dignity to the jottings and doodlings that make no sense. A bit like life. Life that I feel should be so clearly defined, fairy tale like, with a beginning, middle and a very happy end, and yet is often not that way. It’s the ups and downs of every day. The scrawling mess of mistakes, meetings, happenings, feelings that constitute a day, fill our hours and leave me at least wondering ‘What was that all about?’ Now I have a word for it – it’s a Kish Kush Balabush day. Recognising it as such somehow makes it okay.

The creative scribblings of nursery school is how children learn to draw. Without the scribbles they won’t reach that delightful moment, when they realise that the circle they have drawn and those dots and lines in the middle, constitute a face. I’ll never forget the gleeful joy of my three year old when he was doodling at home on lots and lots of white paper, making lots and lots of interesting ‘somethings!?!’ when he realised he had made a face. He shouted with joy and then proceeded to make hundreds of faces. They were adorable, happy, innocent faces. It took a lot of Kish Kush Balabash to get there.

As a grown up I pride myself on not producing Kish Kush Balabushim. But the truth is that they’re there. I hide them, in too much chocolate, in coffee (lots of it), in bad moods, in wanting to just stay in bed another twenty minutes. But perhaps I should take more pride in the Kish Kush Balabush of my life. Our lives aren’t often about clearly defined goals and an ambitious singular drive, rather our days dance in many circles, a lot of which are really really ‘interesting’ with many ‘bright and beautiful’ colours – as all Kish Kush Balabush works of art are.

Bringing up kids is this way. Making Aliyah is this way. Life is this way, even for the most clear, goal orientated CEO. And the days I allow myself to go along with the Kish Kush Balabush, enjoying the capering, twirls and colours, are the days that emerge into beautiful smiley faces that I can clearly see and enjoy. So long live Kish Kush Balabush.