Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 63

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Today was set to be a day of rest in every sense of the word. After running my family on a “3,000 years in 3 hours” tour yesterday, we were all set for a day of just hanging out at the hotel recuperating, getting lots of rest and early sleep for tomorrow I planned another full day of adventure. It’s now 11:15 p.m. in the Holy Land and while I type this my wife and two kids are just sitting down to eat dinner. Oh well, the best laid plans.

The good news is, my family doesn’t seem to be on LA time anymore. The bad news is, I don’t know what the hell time they’re on. Caleb once again woke up at 4:50 a.m. asking how many seconds there were until he had to get up. After counting to a million (1,000 to you and me) I almost threw him into the hall. But why start with failure? Let’s start with a seldom-seen hero moment for me. Last night after an amazing tour walking in the footsteps of kings and Bible figures with nary a hiccup except for the briefest moment of a pop-pop-pop sound followed by the smell of tear gas, everyone retired to the room for a nap. (As a side note, the issue of safety seems to come up a lot when I tell people I’m going to Israel, but in reality I feel much safer walking here at night than I do in L.A. To wit, last week someone was shot and killed a mile from my home. Also, this is the first time I’ve ever used the phrase ‘to wit’ so it’s obvious I feel safe here.)

Anyway, I perfectly planned our over-planned day to give everyone a half hour to get ready after a 45 minute nap. After feeling revitalized, the plan was to walk a mile over cobblestones to the heart of the Old City to have a traditional Friday night dinner at an acquaintance’s house. I, of course, forewent the luxurious nap in favor of hunting down an expensive bottle of wine to bring to our hosts. But when I got to our room and saw my wife and kids sound asleep, contorted into a giant flesh pretzel, I cancelled our plans for the night and instead made arrangements for us to eat in at the hotel and go to bed early.

Now, you may think this was a decision that any man with an ounce of fatherly-instinct would have made instantly. But you’re forgetting that I have a half-ounce of fatherly instinct and I like to cram as many experiences as possible into my vacations, so the decision was made after some thought. And the thing I thought about was earlier in the day yesterday, when my daughter who was sobbing and moping the entire day asked if she could have her third ice cream of the day. I told her she could eat anything she wanted and she cocked her head and looked at me and said, “Why are you doing that?” I said, “Doing what?” She said, “Being nice.”

Now, of course, that was a killer and I had to ask Shawni several times if she thought I had destroyed our daughter and if I was a monster father. “Yes” she said simply and unemotionally. No, of course not, she said I was tired and Sasha was tired and it was a bad combination. She also recalled to me what our parenting Expert had said, that I’m too hard on my daughter and needed to lay off. Shawni told me that this trip I was being especially hard on her so we came up with a secret code that Shawni would employ when I was going to far. Shawni would say, in a stern voice, “Jeff, enough!”

So now, the good news: my decision to cancel our plans paid off huge dividends: the kids woke up with a spring in their steps and a song in their hearts. Sasha and I hung out and had lunch and played Bananagrams and I let her eat whatever she wanted and she was delightful. My problem is that sometimes I tend to see my kids in their worst moments and I fear that that’s who they are. I so desperately want my kids to be happy, but I need to remember that in general they are, but just like me, sometimes they’re tired and angry and hurt and hungry and just need to be left alone. That’s the hard part for me, leaving them alone.

It’s midnight now and the kids are finally asleep. If I can take one thing from this day it’s to learn that lesson: that sometimes less is more. Now I have to go pack for tomorrow: we have a camel ride, desert hike, museum tour and cave trek. After that, though, we’ll rest.


Written by 100daysoff

April 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. After the week I’ve had with my 14 year old, I LOVE today’s message. Specifically, this line: “My problem is that sometimes I tend to see my kids in their worst moments and I fear that that’s who they are.”

    You should think about writing for a living.


    April 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm

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