Boundaries 4

Boundary issues replay themselves throughout one’s life. Adolescents, eager to define themselves, often do it in opposition to their parents. In order not to be a carbon copy of one’s father and mother, one tries out ideas and behaviors that the parent wouldn’t perform or approve of. Children who have had experience with appropriate boundaries throughout their lives have less to struggle with. They know where they begin and end. They know that their property is theirs, their thoughts are their own, and that they are respected by their parents.

One particular aspect of establishing healthy boundaries in early life is the issue of choice. Children should be educated in making choices from their earliest days. A two year old can be asked to select from one of two acceptable alternatives: “Would you like a cookie or a pretzel?” A child should not be given a “choice” if the parent has a strong preference and one of the choices is not completely acceptable to the parents. If the child is given the opportunity to choose, he should feel that his choices are respected. If mother would prefer he eat a pretzel, then he should not be given the choice. I remember once seeing a mother in a store with her four year old child. They were looking at two stuffed toy bears. The mother asked, “Which one would you like?” After a short time, the child pointed to one of the bears. The mother said, pointing to the other one, “Oh, but this one is so much nicer.” Incidents such as that one can cause a child to either be indecisive or worse, to not choose what he likes or wants, but to constantly be trying to figure out what the “right” answer is.

Now the child comes to adolescence. If from age four he has been trying to figure out the right answer that will please his mother and not what will please him, he is likely to say to himself, “I really don’t care what my mother wants; I can choose what pleases me!” And then, he will do exactly the opposite of what his mother would want and a full-scale rebellion sets in. Or, he will be a person who is so estranged from his own tastes and preferences that, he will not know what pleases him.

Since neither scenario is desirable, parents should strive to provide their children the opportunity to make choices. Such choices may include the choice of a toy that costs a specific amount of money that the parent is willing to spend. If there are specific objections to types of toys (lots of little pieces, lots of noise), then the parents need to tell the child before he is given the choice. Another choice children can be given is the order of their activities, “Do you want to draw first or shall we go to the park first?” The parents should be happy with either answer or they should not ask the question.

Similarly children should be given the opportunity to suggest family activities. One year, my twelve or thirteen year old daughter was anticipating a boring school vacation. When she spoke with me about it, I asked her what she would like to do. She said that she would like to do some local trips. We were living in a small southern town. She called up local businesses and factories and arranged tours for our family and during that vacation, we went to the Tom’s candy factory (where be got free samples), the Sunshine cookie factory (ditto), the Coca Cola bottling plant (free coasters), and a local TV station where the technician showed the children all sorts of special effects and even let them “fly” against a blue background. She had both the energy and the creativity to come up with great activities and all of us benefited.

Children who have a sense of efficacy are happier people. They need to know that their opinions, ideas, and intelligence are valued. But they also need to know that there are limits. Not everything is in their hands. Parents still have the experience and maturity that they lack and it is the parents’ task to be sure that their children are safe both physically and emotionally. Just as we don’t allow our children to decide whether or not they should have inoculations, we should not allow them to make other choices for which they lack the information and foresight. Children feel their safest when they know what the limits are.

Boundaries 3

Boundaries are inextricably tied to two other concepts: trust and respect.

As the child grows, matures, and becomes more capable and the parent begins to give up control of the child, the child needs to be encouraged to be honest and trustworthy. If the child is respectful of the parent, the parent is more easily able to withdraw control from the child. However, any dishonesty on the part of the child invites the parent to intrude. You might say that the slogan of the parents of a young child is “trust but verify.” If the child is consistently honest, then the verification can be done infrequently, but if a child’s behavior becomes suspicious, then the parent must investigate.

For example, one day, I noticed my then four year old son walking into the house with one of his hands holding a Styrofoam cup and the other covering it. He walked to his room, then, shortly afterwards, walked back outside. In a few minutes, he was walking back with the cup, once again covered by his other hand. He had that “sneaky walk” that children adopt when they are tiptoeing to keep parents from hearing them, but he was aware that I was watching. After several repetitions, I asked him what he was doing. He said, “Nothing.” The next time he went outside, I went into his room and saw no evidence of any objects he could have been carrying into the room. I decided to open his drawers and began with the bottom one. As I opened the drawer, maybe 50 bees began to fly out of it. Just as I was beginning to shoo them out of the open window, my son came in and started yelling, “My bee collection! You ruined it!” He was heartbroken.

It was then I learned that if you are not sure what your child is doing, the best thing to do is to go and investigate. As much as we need to respect our children’s privacy, we also need to know that they are not doing things that are harmful to themselves or others.

In the early years of childhood, children might bring home things that don’t belong to them—from school or from a playmate’s house. Later, as they reach adolescence, they may have drugs or alcohol, and as parents, it is our job to protect them from bad habits and antisocial behavior, even if it means entering their private space.

Once, when one of my sons was about 14, I went into his room to clean. I saw, lying out on a table, a small plastic bag containing white powder. My son was honest and trustworthy, I thought, but I also knew that most parents whose children use drugs are shocked when they find out. I called his school immediately and asked to speak to him. When he got on the phone and I asked about the bag, he seemed puzzled and then he started laughing. It was bicarbonate of soda that he had taken along with him on a bus ride the day before when his stomach was feeling queasy. He thought it was funny that I would suspect him.

It certainly would have been out of character for him to have gotten involved with drugs, and as I learned over the years, it was the farthest thing from his mind, but it was important to verify that he was all right. Had he not been, we could have dealt with the problem before it became worse.

It is a fine line that parents need to walk. We need to respect our children and their boundaries. We need to not get involved in their friendships and schoolwork and other aspects of their lives that they should be able to handle by themselves, yet, we need to be there like smoke detectors, ready at the sign of danger to intervene in appropriate ways.

Part of the respect that we need to maintain for our children has to do with speaking with them directly, with not talking about them and their personal issues with others unless there is a good and sufficient reason.

Occasionally, I see children in my practice who have some important fear, phobia, or behavior that is difficult for them. The children whose parents are helpful and supportive are able to overcome their problem much more easily than those who have been labeled or stigmatized by parents talking too freely to others about it or worse, embarrassing them in front of others.

Children are people under construction. We need to protect them and respect them and we need to know when and where to intervene and when to keep out and keep silent. That is why parenthood is an art and not a science.

More on boundaries in a future article….

Boundaries 2

Parents can assist their children to develop the kinds of boundaries that allow them to grow and develop as capable, competent human beings. Here are some of the boundary issues that parents can effectively manage.

1. The child talks about people (children, a friend’s parent, a teacher) that the parent has never met as if the parent knows who they are. “I’ll be so excited if Janet comes today!”

If the parent doesn’t know who Janet is, he or she should ask, “Who is Janet? I don’t think you have mentioned her before.” This is a simple way of reminding the child that what he has experienced is separate from his parents’ experience. It allows the child to understand that he has knowledge and experience that is different from that of his parents and therefore different from other people.

2. The child begins speaking before noticing if the parent is paying attention or even while the parent is talking to someone else.

The parent should respond, “I need you to wait until I can give you my attention. I want to hear what you have to say, but right now I am not able to do so.” The child needs to learn that the world does not revolve around him. Being the center of the world is a tremendous burden and responsibility. Having a sense of where he belongs in the world is important. The child should understand that he is very important to his parents and grandparents and he is also important to his teachers and caregivers, but there are other people and things in the world that are also important and that he is not the prime concern of everyone in the world. This helps the child define himself and his place in the world and relieves him of the burden of running the world which little children who are overly catered-to possess. Such a burden leads to magical thinking (“If I wish bad on someone, something bad will happen”) and feelings of guilt and reinforcement of feelings of omnipotence if something bad does happen.

3. The child enters the parents’ personal space.

The child should not be permitted to rummage through parents’ belongings, get in the middle of their discussions, or sleep in their bed. Children need to know that parents also have boundaries and that they want and need privacy. They can be taught by analogy, asked if they would want someone to go through their things without permission or interrupt them when they are speaking. Teaching children to respect parents’ boundaries legitimizes their desire for boundaries.

4. The child becomes insistent that the parent buy him or her something while in a store, repeating his or her request many times or beginning to have a tantrum.

The parents must tell the child it is the parents who decide what will be purchased and nagging and pleading are not helpful. The child should never be rewarded for whining. That means that nagging, pleading, and whining will not be effective means of persuasion. Parents should tell children that they will listen to a request and then decide based on the merits of the request but they will not be blackmailed by poor behavior.

These are only some of the ways that parents can enforce healthy limits. More about boundaries next time…..

Boundaries

Let’s say I take you to a big open field and tell you that I have bought you a gift. Part of the very field we are looking at is to be yours. Your first question would likely be “which part?” I could then say something like, “oh, it’s from around the middle of that clutch of trees to about 30 yards to the right.” You might then ask, “But how far back does it extend?” You want to know the boundaries of your land. Without boundaries, it is not a distinctive entity that you can understand and value. It is just part of an undefined mass of land.

It is the same thing with human beings. Physiologically, we are independent entities. When we emerge from our mothers, we begin breathing on our own and despite our dependence on our parents for food and clothing and shelter and love, we otherwise are able to carry on our physiological tasks unassisted.

However, psychologically and emotionally, we are not separate because cognitively, we do not understand that we are separate beings. An infant does not have the ability to conceive of his or her mother as a separate being. When the baby is folded into the mother’s arms and feeds at her breast, the baby is unaware that two organisms are involved. The baby only feels safe and warm and sated.

It is only as the child grows that he or she begins to see his or her mother is a separate entity. It is at that precise moment that the child really starts to define himself. Now he knows that Mommy has ears and Daddy has ears and that he has ears too. From now on, parents are teachers, advisors, and assistants and sometimes servants too, but they are separate. However, even the young child doesn’t want to take full responsibility for his life, so when he gets into a difficult situation like someone blocking his entrance to the sliding board or another child taking his ball, mother or father is enlisted to solve the problem.

As the child grows, parental intervention should decrease. The more able a child becomes, the less help he needs. Sitting back and watching the child handle things on his own and then signaling approval helps the child feel capable and competent. Rushing in to assist when the child is struggling with something is giving the child a no-confidence vote.

Five year old Julie is building with blocks. She is building a tall tower. It is beginning to wobble a little. Her father is watching. He has several options. He could go over to Julie immediately and show her how to stabilize her tower. He could wait until Julie asks for help. He could encourage Julie to think about how she could solve the problem. He could tell Julie that he knew all along that it wasn’t going to be a stable tower and doesn’t she understand that the way she built it was foolish. Father’s reaction will have a lot to do with how Julie feels about herself. Will she feel competent? loved? valued? supported?

One such incident does not usually change a person’s life, but repeated no-confidence votes, repeated interventions when a child is tackling a problem he is capable of solving, teach the child that he either is incapable of thinking or worse, that he doesn’t have to think—someone will come and do it for him. Worse than making the child feel inadequate, what it often does is blur the child’s boundaries. A person who doesn’t have boundaries doesn’t have a full sense of self. He never feels complete. He is a person who will constantly be looking for others to make himself feel whole. He will cling to others in a needy way, become angry if he feels let down, and will be the first to devalue others for not being all he needs them to be.

In short, the more careful a parent is in establishing healthy boundaries for his child, the happier and more functional the child will be.

Boundaries are established in many ways. Children should be encouraged to learn and accomplish. Their efforts should be recognized. Parents should work with their children in an educative or advisory role, but they should not do the work for them. Children should be encouraged to express their creativity. Their creations are part of what helps them define themselves as individuals.

Rules that are reasonable help the child understand what is permissible and what is not. Within the rules, the child feels safe to express himself and isn’t worried about parents suddenly disapproving of what he is doing for no reason that the child can fathom. If Susie knows that she must come inside when the street lights come on, then she isn’t confused when one day she comes in and she’s too late. There is something that the parent can point to and the rule can be learned and her life can become more predictable.

Think about this: You are taking a course. The professor announces that you must hand in a paper at the next class session. How do you feel? Would you want to know what subject you need to write about? Would you want to know the required length of the paper? Would you ask if you needed to use references? The more you know about the paper, the better equipped you are to write it and the lower is your level of anxiety.

Now imagine a child in a waiting room. The mother says, “Behave nicely.” What does that mean? Can he go and get a book to read? Play with toys that are there? Talk to mom? A better structuring instruction might be, “come and sit on my lap and I will tell you a story,” or “you can go and play with the blocks or other toys.” The better defined the “playing field” is, the safer and more secure the child feels and the more likely he or she is to be able to meet the standards set for him or her.

These safe external boundaries translate into the development of a healthy sense of self in which the child feels confident and safe. The child knows where he begins and ends and he understands that others are there for love and affection and support, but not as auxiliary parts of himself. He learns to be self-reliant and to value the things he accomplishes.

There is much more to say about boundaries, so come back again if you’d like to learn more.

It never hurts to say “thank you”

I am not a theologian. I do not pretend to any understanding greater than that of the next person, but I have been thinking about the nature of religion as practiced today by many people.

What concerns me is the line between religion and superstition. It seems to me that sometimes people believe in such a simplistic way that they believe that specific actions, words, or contact with holy objects or people will cause G-d to act in the way that they wish, thereby making their lives more pleasant or perhaps just more bearable.

If one looks at the vast human tragedies that have occurred, both manmade, like the Holocaust or natural, like the recent tzunami, then those beliefs become even more problematic. Are we to assume that all of the innocent victims didn’t pray right, touch the right objects, or perform the right rituals?

And where do such beliefs lead people? There are a large number of people who prey on those who have such naïve beliefs. There are those who only sell their amulets and charms. There are those who claim that they can affect what G-d will do by putting people through all sorts of trials and humiliation. There are others who try to sell them special water, laying on of hands, fortune telling, and “healing.” People give them money, sometimes thousands of dollars, for the miracles that they promise to perform, and the people are left not only poorer, but hopeless and betrayed.

But how does all of this influence what G-d will do? Well, my guess is that if someone had found the formula to persuade G-d to do what any individual willed, that person would not keep it a secret. The fortunetellers would make all of their fortune on Wall Street and stop taking money from people who believe that they can know the universe in some secret way.

I do not pretend to understand how G-d works, what His plan is for the world, nor how to get what I wish or pray for. I do know that I feel a sense of awe and wonder at the world He has created, and if I know nothing else, I know that I should be grateful for all that He has given me.

The longest way ’round

When I was a little girl, I would often read ahead in one of our reading books at school while the class was engaged in something I had already done. I came to one story, however, that had a word that I didn’t understand. Oh, I could pronounce it fine. The word was “detour” and I was able to sound it out. I knew that it was pronounced “det-our” (debt hour.) Of course, since I was reading ahead, I couldn’t ask the teacher what a det-our was, but I thought I would understand when I read the story.

Well, it seems that someone was in a car and was driving home when he came to a det-our. For some reason, he could not proceed and tried to go another way. There was a det-our, but he didn’t want to take it. He went through forests and woods and who knows where else, and finally, after many hours, reached home. The great denouement came when he found out that by taking the det-our, he would have been home much faster.

So I had read the story and still had no clue what a det-our was. When I got home, I asked my mother what a det-our was. She asked me what I was talking about, so I showed her the story. She told me that the word was detour and she explained to me what it meant. I went back to the story and suddenly it made a lot more sense.

There was a refrain at the end of the story that went “the longest way ‘round is the shortest way home.” What it meant was that if the person had followed the signs, and not taken the “shortcut,” even though he would have driven farther, he would not have encountered as many obstacles and would have arrived at his destination a lot faster.

I think of that lesson sometimes when I see people with their young children. In a typical scenario, when a child misbehaves in public, the parent responds in one of several ways.
1. He/she is oblivious
2. He/she ignores it
3. He/she tries to distract the child
4. He/she calls to the child and verbally corrects him/her
5. He/she gets up and picks up the child to hold and/or to talk to

The shortcuts of remaining oblivious and ignoring the behavior are a lot easier for the parent. The parent can maintain composure and relax. Of course it doesn’t stop the behavior and for the child, there is no learning. If the behavior is self-reinforcing (like drawing on a wall or taking cookies from the cookie jar at the wrong time, it may even become strengthened and therefore more likely to recur.

Distractions often are effective, but they lack the educational aspect that can prevent a future occurrence of the unacceptable behavior.

Verbal correction, depending on the tone, may be helpful. Many parents, however, correct in such a tentative tone that they are actually giving their children mixed messages. “Honey, I would prefer if you didn’t color all over the table with lipstick” may, for some children, sound like there is still an option. Verbal corrections usually are only effective once the child has a real sense that he/she has a parent who will follow up if the behavior doesn’t cease.

Getting up to get the child, holding him/her, talking to him/her and explaining what the problematic behavior was and why it is unacceptable takes a lot of work, but it is the most effective way to teach a child how to behave in a socially acceptable manner.

For example: Janie is playing on the monkey bars and another child starts to climb. Janie starts shouting, “Go away! This is where I am playing!” and then pushes the other child. The parent then gets up, takes Janie from the scene, holds her and explains, “Janie, you must not push other children. The monkey bars are there for you to play on and for other children as well. There are lots of things that we need to share, and this is one of them. And you must never hurt another person.” The parent then takes Janie back so that Janie can apologize and then play nicely.

All of that takes energy, but sometimes the longest way ‘round is the shortest way home, because after not the first or the second or the third time, but eventually, the child begins to understand that there is a consistent message about how he/she is expected to behave.

The effort expended by parents in the early years of their child’s life is well rewarded and is far less than the energy that would be required when a child who has not been so trained becomes a teen who engages in dangerous and/or illegal behavior.

Parents are their children’s primary and most important educators. It’s important to take an active role in helping one’s child to develop into a responsible, caring person. There are no shortcuts. It’s hard work. But it’s worth it.

…and you shall see your children’s children

Today is Matan and Lilach’s birthday. Nine years ago today I stood just a few feet away from my daughter as the first twin emerged. “It’s a boy!” But the doctors were concerned. The second baby’s heartbeat was slow and so they took my daughter to the operating room to perhaps do a Caesarian section to get the other baby out. Fortunately, the C-section was not needed and 14 minutes later, Lilach emerged. And suddenly, we became a family that had twins, a boy and a girl! I would never have guessed then that by now, there would be two more sets of boy/girl twins!

So today is their birthday, and it coming on Jerusalem Day this year, we thought it would be a good idea to take the children to Jerusalem last night to see the parade and perhaps the fireworks.

However, Matan was tired after soccer practice and his 11 year old sister, Hadas, really wanted to go, and so we ended up with the two girls making our way to Jerusalem.

The traffic in the city was almost at a standstill as street after street was closed. When finally we parked and walked to Jaffa Road, the parade was still going on and we watched as group after group of children and adults from all over the country paraded in uniforms and costumes, on floats and on foot, driving motorcycles and ambulances, to salute Jerusalem.

Suddenly I was transported to my first trip to Jerusalem. It was in 1965 when I came on a youth tour. I stood at that very spot on Jaffa Road, but back then, the Old City was closed to us. We could not visit. We were taken to Abu Tor to look out over to the Temple Mount. We went to Mount Zion and tried to see what we could of the holy city. I was in Jerusalem longing for Jerusalem.

And then I thought about June 1967. I was in Philadelphia, seven months pregnant, sitting in my parents’ family room, embroidering a challah cover, the one we still use, when the news came onto the TV, “the Temple Mount is in our hands!”

I can’t describe the joy. I remember thinking that the baby inside me will never know that longing that the Jews had felt for so long. I remember seeing TV reports about the first Shavuot after the reunification—people streaming into the gates of the Old City.

It took us many years to return to Israel, but finally, in 1978, we took all of the children. On our first day, we went to visit to the Old City of Jerusalem. I still remember the awe I felt when I first saw the Western Wall standing there, golden in the sunlight.

My experience of Jerusalem has not changed, not after having visited there, not after having lived there. Jerusalem is holy and special from the very stones to the special fragrant smell of the air. Going to Jerusalem is returning to the place where I belong.

So we watched last night’s parade, we sang along with the music that was playing beautiful songs of Jerusalem, we ate dinner, we walked through the downtown walking area that was filled with people, and on our way home we were treated to fireworks that were best seen from our car as it descended down Betzalel Street to Sacher Park.

And I felt grateful for my husband, my children, my grandchildren, and for my city, Jerusalem.

A drawer marked “Tomorrow Afternoon”

When my husband delivered the eulogy for my mother, he termed her “a word-class worrier,” and it was true. My mother had a tremendous capacity for worrying. She did it better than almost anyone I knew. My father was five minutes late coming home from work? “He could have been in a car accident,” “his store could have been robbed,” “he could be lying dead in a pool of blood.” And she worried. My mother would stand by the window, willing him to arrive. We couldn’t use the phone because he or the police might be trying to reach us. Then, she would pick up the phone and call the store. The phone would ring a couple of times and he would pick it up and tell her that he was with a customer who had come in just before closing. She would ask him to call before he left (I assume so she would know at what point to begin worrying again) and if too much time went by, she would call to check if he had left yet.

This was a pattern of our lives. Our days were filled with drama because who knew what tragedy could befall any of us at any moment.

It served some positive purposes: my sister and I are perhaps the most cautious people I know. We simply did not take chances. We knew that any misstep could invite disaster.

But my mother’s worrying was not an aberration. It was an exaggeration. All of us worry to some extent. And in many cases, worry is good—if it causes us to be prepared or to be cautious of real danger.

For example, recently there was a tragic accident on a school trip in the northern part of Israel where three children, who had been instructed not to enter the cold water of a stream, either willingly jumped in or fell in. One child died as a result of entering the very cold water and having limited swimming ability despite the immediate response of the people accompanying him. In this case, the investigation showed that the adults had acted responsibly and the outcome was still tragic. School trips to the area continue, but I imagine that the worry that the chaperones now harbor inspires extra caution and extra warning to the children.

But worry can be destructive as well. Today it is a beautiful sunlit day. The temperature is about 75 F/23 C. Our garden is sweet smelling with the scents of lemongrass, rosemary, lavender, and sage. Our trees are growing clementines and lemons, and our decorative plum tree has yielded the world’s sweetest plums.

But what am I thinking about? My daughter’s new (less than one-year old) refrigerator has stopped cooling and the repairman can’t come until tomorrow afternoon. My worry, that has no purpose, has distracted me from the wonder of life, the beauty that abounds, the joy of friendship and the love of family.

Sometimes I tell my clients to metaphorically take the worry, define it, compress it, wrap it up in a package (preferably brown paper) and put it away. I am filing mine in a drawer marked “tomorrow afternoon.”

All in all, I would rather be in Croatia

A couple of months ago I got the news. I was going to be asked to be a witness in a criminal trial. I would have to give testimony to support a former client. I was not thrilled. In general, my experience with courts has not been pleasant. In Lawton, Oklahoma, I had served as an expert witness a couple of times and it was less than enjoyable. The whole idea of an adversarial proceeding in which every word was scrutinized reminded me of nothing so much as an argument with my mother. But I digress…

In the US, I was a native speaker of the language of the court proceedings. In Israel, although my Hebrew is fluent, it is not native and therefore there are nuances and expressions that Israelis use and understand that elude me. So naturally, I was wary and reluctant. It was kind of like the way my then 5 year old son must have felt just after he started the fire in our living room: “maybe if I just get into bed and close my eyes, it will all disappear.” Well, the fire didn’t disappear and with the arrival of a notice from the court roughly equivalent to a subpoena, neither did the trial.

The prosecutor called me and asked for information. A second call came to change the date to nearly a week earlier. A third call came to change it back. Then we received a call from friends who wanted to know if we would like to join their trip to Croatia and Slovenia which was to take off the night before the anticipated testimony.

I called the prosecutor’s office. I explained that we had an opportunity to go on a trip and asked if there were any possibility that I could testify before or afterwards. The clerk sounded understanding and after checking with the prosecutor said that he regretted that there was no alternative.

Yesterday, the prosecutor called me to go over the facts and the points she wanted to make with my testimony. She helped me with some of the technical Hebrew phrases. For example, bruises are translated into Hebrew as “blue marks.” And professional journals, she told me, are “professional newspapers.”

So this morning, having no idea of the extent of the morning traffic to Tel Aviv, I left my home at 6:50 a.m., in order not to be late for the 8:30 summons. I was at the door of the courthouse at 7:30. Unfortunately, the doors open to the public at 8:00. I sat and read the book I had brought, and waited.

At 8:00, I got into line to wait for the security check and finally, I arrived upstairs at the courtroom. My former client was there. Little by little the other participants arrived and finally today’s session of the trial began. I was asked to stay outside while other witnesses were testifying. During that time I repeated to myself phrases that I knew would not come naturally to me. I kept reassuring myself that my hesitations over language could be of use because it would give me time to think. As the time passed, I just wanted it to be over because I was feeling more and more tense.

Finally, I was called. I hooked on the microphone and swore to tell the truth. Before the prosecutor could ask me the first question, the defense attorney began spewing objections. I say “spewing” because I am pretty certain that I saw steam rising from her and I certainly felt as if I was engulfed by a stream of lava. I was “irrelevant”, she asserted. However, it took her more than five minutes to say that. Then the prosecutor responded for another minute or two. Then two of the three judges tried to answer while the defense attorney continued spewing. The mayhem continued for about another ten minutes during which I was asked little more than my name, qualifications, time period during which I treated my client, and general impression of her condition at intake. Then the next eruption took place. At that point, the questioning was stopped and I was thanked for my participation.

I went back to the parking lot, paid, and left. All in all, I would rather be in Croatia.