Archive for April, 2011

Man Wrestling

In the hustle and bustle of life, I sometimes forget that raising two boys even without the added wonkiness of twinness, is an experience in itself.  In the short five years that I have known these sweet little yahoos, I am struck every so often with the fact that a little boy interacts differently with the world than a little girl.  Double that times two, and you have the Ozsarac household (with one big boy).

In college while learning about all things I didn’t learn in high school, if you had told me that when I was 36 I would be saying “yes, boys and girls are different” I would have written you off as someone from the “old school” not enlightened by the new ways of the world.  But now that I am a mom of two little boys with ample opportunities to see little girls of the same or similar age in action, I realize that there are differences between the sexes.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that one is better over the other, or that boys and girls shouldn’t have the same opportunities or expectations in life, or that all of the sexism, oppression, abuse, and glass ceilings that exist in the world are OK. Nor do we have two little manly men out of touch with their feminine side.  What I am saying is that when I have an uninterrupted 30-minute conversation with a friend with her little girl coloring quietly at her side or eat dinner at another friend’s house with little girl in tow, and the mommy isn’t getting up every three minutes to keep her from wrestling, yelling, rolling around on the floor, or poking a fork into an electrical socket, it hits home that there is often a difference in the ways that males and females interact with their surroundings.

Coming to this realization has helped me be a better mom to two boys.  I no longer dream  that they will sit for more than 30 minutes doing something that requires fine motor skills or skillful social graces nor am I bummed when they don’t take any interest in the tea or cooking sets we buy them.  They prefer to run around outside, roll around in the dirt, play in the mud, kick things, and think the two words “chicken butt” are the height of humor.  Now in our neighborhood there are some very cool little girls who are out there right along with the boys, but instead of grass stained jeans, they wear pink tutus, sparkly pink shoes and purple rain coats.  And as it is with many adult relationships, the girls are large and in charge.

Even though I was raised with three brothers, “boy behavior” still catches me by surprise at times.  Here is a good example, while walking home from the kres one day this week, the boys were telling me about their day.  Still not decompressed from work, I was not making the connections between the weekly newsletter (cultural diversity is the theme of the week) and the boys’ story about eating rice with little “cubuks” or sticks (chop sticks) so while I was still trying to work that out  envisioning pretzels sprinkled into rice they asked me if they could do “man wrestling” when we got home. The conversation went something like this:

Man wrestling?”

“Yes, man wrestling.  You get into your underwear and wrestle”

Pregnant pause

“I think you should play outside, and we can discuss this later.”

Which they happily scurried off to do.  And  of the 350 things they did in 2o minutes, one  was to grab my jam jar of wild flowers from the picnic table and break it. Chastising myself for being a silly mother who didn’t realize that a jar of flowers  has an entirely different purpose to two little boys, but at the same time frustrated that they couldn’t keep their hands off if  it, I sent them inside.  When I walked  into the house, at the base of the stairs lay a crumpled pile of shoes and clothes.  Upon calling them, two skinny bodies  clad in teeny underwear with socks pulled up to their knees hustled down the stairs.

“What in the heck are you doing?”

And the answer?

“We are man wrestling!”

Then the penny dropped and I realized that they had learned about sumo wrestling at school and were taking a stab at this ancient wrestling practice. I of course found this to be hilarious, but I shook my head thinking that is the last thing I would have done at that age.   But that is the whole point, they are their own little beings with a different set of chromosomes, and even though they drive me bonkers sometimes, I love every little last dirt and booger crusted inch of them.

I just want them to keep the “man wrestling” confined to the great outdoors.


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This won’t be a long post, but it is about something that I hope I never lose.  And that is the joy I gain from my chosen profession.

Tonight I grumbled and moaned about having to go to study hall, a date I have every Thursday, rain or shine, that starts when I am winding down for the night and finishes after I am usually snuggled warm and happy into my bed, tucked into a good book. But I have to do it, so I loaded myself up with things to keep me busy and dragged myself to school even though I was feeling really tired from a busy day.

But over the course of the evening a student and I had a good chat about a variety of topics.  While I was in my teacher mode, keeping rowdy 9th graders quiet, checking the stacks for couples, etc., I was actually on the receiving end of information as this young person and I talked.  The conversation wasn’t about life changing events, but it was neat because young people really are where it’s at; they are so smart and innovative and fresh, and I am very often  reminded of this living on the campus of a boarding school.

And that’s it.

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It has been a busy week, and Koray is in Ankara again, so I won’t get a lot of time to write this week, though a lot has been on my mind.

Other than work and raising boys, we were lucky to hang out with good friends visiting from the states.  Seven years ago it was just the four of us navigating the world of bi-national marriage, and now we have grown into two families totaling eight people, straddling two nations.  It was great to see them.

The other thing that  I have been busy with, well slightly obsessed with, that even  a broken Kindle couldn’t diffuse, is a lovely man named Ken Robinson.  He is all over the web, google him and you will find his TED Talks and information about his books, which I highly recommend reading.  His ideas have even made their way into my classes lately. I find him funny, inspiring, and thought-provoking.

So I will leave you with a video that I recently watched that spoke to me in a number of ways. It is about 50 minutes, so grab a cuppa and plop down in a comfortable chair, it will be time well spent, I promise.


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Those Moments

Shortly after school let out for our week long spring break, Koray and I kissed our little ones good-bye and hopped on a plane and headed for a town in the south-east of Turkey.  Bordering with the country of Syria, Gaziantep is a different experience from Istanbul.  The region is known for its lamb kebabs and baklava and we weren’t disappointed.  The delicious kebabs glistened with drippy warm lamb fat and the baklava heavy with fresh local pistachios drenched in a buttery, sugary concoction layered in a flaky crust.  Two delicious things that will literally and spiritually make your heart stop.

Because we were there for a conference with students, our days and evenings were meticulously planned by the hosting school. Traveling with a group of students and teachers from all around Europe and the Middle East, we were herded and hustled through a variety of sights and activities. On day one we spent cutting and gingerly placing small pieces of marble into our own mosaic creations. My masterpiece took 6 hours to make and even though my hands were contorted into  claws at the end of the day, it was time well spent.  It also made me appreciate the time it took the ancients to make floor mosaics in the excavated city of Zuegma, some of which are housed in a Gaziantep museum by the same name.  That evening we were whisked away to the market followed by dinner and dessert at the famous  Imam Cagdas.  With a feast that featured lamb and roasted eggplant kebab with a massive pie slice of baklava, the best in the country, I didn’t think I could stay awake a minute longer.  But we were yet again whisked away in our fleet of white service buses to the hosting school for a night cap of Turkish culture where we watched dervishes twirl and pseudo village girls dance to the beat of the drums.  Splendid.

Whirling Dervish

The next day, feeling slightly claustrophobic from traveling in a large group for what seemed like a long time, we hopped on two well- equipped tour buses and headed for the city of Urfa.  Much to my dismay, the hosting school had arranged a tour guide for the day.  Tickled with himself with a sense of humor that rubbed me the wrong way, the already long day stretched out in front of me.  And it only got worse from there.  For forty-five minutes we traveled past increasingly rural and beautiful pastoral scenes chock full of newly bursting pistachio trees, ghostly white against the red, iron rich soil in which they grew. Yet the  half-correct ancient history and annoying anecdotes of a half-wit made me wish I was back in Istanbul with my little ones.  I regretted the last -minute choice not to pack my iPod.

The gods smiled on us just at midday and we were set free of the drone and his scratchy microphone and boarded two boats that headed up the Euphrates.  On our trip to Mardin last April, I lamented that we were  only able to throw rocks in the Tigris, so seeing the beauty of the Euphrates was a great experience.

The Euphrates

After an hour long cruise past ancient Mesopotamian sites, back on the bus the magic was burst again when snicklefritz resumed his silly stories.  After just teaching a unit where we analyzed and discussed the dangers of the single story, this guy really got my back up.  And the eye rolling and sarcastic remarks from my seat mate didn’t help the situation.

A bit more respite came when we visited the pool of Abraham’s fish in the holy city of Urfa.  Without his microphone, the tour guide couldn’t talk over the bustling Sunday afternoon crowds. I jumped at the opportunity to move away from the group and enjoyed the sparkling blue waters and well-fed holy fish in peace and quiet as it was meant to be.

Holy Fish

Soon thereafter, the group was set free in Urfa’s market and I found myself as many times before in different cities, amongst the brightly colored scarfs and textiles. Discussing colors and quality with a man and his son, I started to feel better about the Urfa/Gaziantep experience.

And then that magical moment happened, the kind that makes life full and fuels my wanderlust.

Sitting in the courtyard of the ancient marketplace, bustling and tinkling with the sounds of chess and copious glasses of henna colored tea, Koray and I were served a deliciously sweet elixir.  Made from crushed terenbinth berries and then boiled in milk with sugar, Menengic wrapped its arms around me in welcome to Urfa.  This ten minute period, sitting with Koray in an atmospheric han courtyard, made the trip for me and even the self-indulgent droning of our tour guide couldn’t break it.

I think often of the American-coined holy grail search for eternal happiness, and how being in a constant state of happiness is in fact not natural or healthy.  In navigating through those notions, I have come to the realization of many before me that life is lived through these small and effervescent bursts of merriment and joy that dot the landscape of our lives. And to be honest, I realize in retrospect that the droning muppet helped to highlight that precious moment shared with Koray in a far away space.

Life is an ebb and flow and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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