Yohai's Life Story in Pictures
Yohai was a wonderful baby: he was sweet-tempered and easy to care for, giving an inexperienced mother a lot of confidence. He was alert and very observant; he stared at and studied the world around him and responded to people, pictures, sounds.
Sitting in his stroller on the balcony, he's looking hard at leaves of plants. In his crib and playpen, he'd reach out to touch toys and pictures, and got a lot of pleasure from touching.
 
Going out for a stroll: out in the open air, Yohai used to open his mouth; we think he used to enjoy the rush of the air. He would run with mouth open, and hands out, shoulder-height, when he got older. Yohai reached all his infant "milestones" on time: first tooth; sitting up; standing up, first words, and walking. When he turned one, he'd already developed into an active and curious person; he liked playing with water, drawing and scribbling; he played with many toys at home and enjoyed going to playgrounds and out to parks and to the sea. He didn't fuss over food and wasn't a big eater. Among all his toys, he didn't sit on or ride the toy car, but used to pick it up and move it around. He loved his rocking horse and stuffed animal toys. He was beautifully developed. He imitated our actions, and communicated well.

Yohai watched tv and imitated what he saw; he imitated us sweeping and doing other household activities. He used his imagination to "drill," fix, or build things. He played with puppets, sand, toy animals, play dough and tub toys; he could keep himself busy indoors for long periods of time, but he also loved going out to playgrounds and swimming pools, and taking walks in parks and woods.
               
Yohai's language abilities seemed to be very advanced: he could name colors and shapes; point to letters (match sound with letters); and he had a large vocabulary. He learned to read early, using BIG letters on signs.
                   
When he could read a few words, we'd scatter several words/signs on the floor or sofa, and Yohai would pick up the word requested. Sometimes he played this game with a "friend" to help! Dad made a wooden board with all the letters of the alphabet, and Yohai would touch or cover the letter that matched the sound of words. We read to Yohai from an early age, and our house was full of books, so he grew up with reading. Dad thought it was important to teach Yohai Hebrew as his first language; this is what he spoke and read. Yohai also identified numbers early, and played a card game based on colors and numbers, called "UNO."

At age 2, one of the birthday gifts he received was a Jack-in-the-box that played "Pop Goes the Weasel." It never failed to amuse him.
Little Yohai was amazing! Love of life, pleasant temperament, quite independent and well-rounded; always busy. We'd had a few medical scares in addition to the usual childhood illnesses. He tended to get very high temperatures when he caught colds and indeed, a few times we were frightened enough to rush him to the hospital. Once, even the doctors were concerned enough to take a spinal tap, fearing meningitis. Occasionally, in these toddler years, Yohai awakened at night crying and frightened; his body went stiff, and he was unable to explain what frightened him. These episodes gave us cause for alarm. Other things that seemed to be ordinary developmental delays for this particular child didn't upset us.
A few "strange" behaviors left us puzzled. Yohai used to bring lots of toys into the living room and make "arrangements" all over the floor. (Later, he did this with his large collection of turtles, in his own room.) We had no idea what this meant!
One puzzling incident occurred on a trip from the US; Aunt Nancy had given Yohai a sticker set with pages of faces; and eyes, noses, mouths, ears to stick onto the pages. Yohai, who could stick geometric shapes and colors onto pages and enjoyed this kind of work, was adamant about pasting almost ALL these stickers on the same page, one on top of another--irregardless of the "face."
When repeating a story or anecdote, we had to use exactly the same words as when first told, or Yohai would become upset. Out in the playground, Yohai loved riding the rocking horse, climbing and jumping; but he never learned how to use a swing and pump himself; we had to push him.
We got our first computer when Yohai was 4, and he loved it. Dad made up simple math problems for him and we also bought some attractive programs to assist reading and math skills.
Yohai loved solving math, and did paper and pencil exercises, too, but he found it hard to sit still. The page he was working on had multiplication and addition problems like 6x4= and 79 + 21=. He enjoyed the game of Bingo, card games, reading alone, and chess.
Out of doors, on walks in Bat-Galim, for example, Yohai loved climbing on rocks and jumping off benches. When he paced, he had these characteristic gestures (he'd be thinking hard).
Yohai liked learning about flowers when he was in kindergarten, but never took much interest in Nature; he liked hiking and swimming and outdoor activities but never thrilled to sights. On a trip to Switzerland, he rode cablecars and never feared from heights; on trains and cars he was very bored unless he could play word games or find some other amusement. When he got older, "Game Boy" was his constant companion in these circumstances. Besides hiking in Switzerland, he liked the Merry-Go-Round, playgrounds, zoo, toy museum, a hands-on transport museum, and most of all, watching chess games!
On a trip to Disney World in Florida, he had as much fun watching tv in the hotel room, playing arcade games, and jumping of "edges" as from any ride.
At home, he became interested in animated tv serials, went to the movies, swam regularly and read many library books. Play with toy soldiers led to interest in army units and ranks. Yohai disliked dressing alone; eating was becoming a narrow choice of favorite foods and absolutely nothing new, or he'd gag at the sight or smell. He took an interest in English; fractions; exponents; decimals; Roman numerals; binary numbers; writing Hebrew, and a number of collections: stamps and turtles, among them. He learned checkers, backgammon, and Monopoly. He could repeat jokes word for word and remember them well. All this, before he started school or could tie his shoe laces. Sometimes, he couldn't even put clothes on in the correct order. The first years in school he was learning to dress without help. He loved his art classes and drawing. He used to practice whistling and snapping his fingers until he could get it right; when he was older, he practiced juggling with the same diligence. Joining the play of other children was important, and he played outside and invited friends to visit him. He was active all the time. He learned to understand English better and liked learning songs; later he read more in English and looked for limmericks and stories about cats. Yohai took a wider interest in science and studied algebra, chemistry and electricity. At age 9, he got books on biology and chemistry at "Book Week" sales. And at this age, he moved on to the gifted children's program, in fourth grade.
Hikes and family outings, and extracurricular activities were a balance to the tons of homework and stress of school in the following years. Reading science fiction books where "you pick the next move" led Yohai to write his own adventures. He watched more movies; played computer games, and also wanted more math in the form of private lessons. In these years, he was acquiring a taste for pizza, bland chicken nuggets, croissants, and Cola, but still ate very few foods. Passover (Spring) 93', we visited Niagra Falls and found a lot of snow and ice on the way. That was more interesting to Yohai than the Falls. He bought a Canadian flag and Indian tomahawk; at Ithaca, NY, he posed near another waterfall.
During the summer of 1994, we travelled to Scandinavia; despite the oppressive heat, the many outdoor sites, boat rides, hands-on museums and hikes were very enjoyable. Yohai stood in Stockholm's Town Hall in one of his "king" poses--they way he used to "ask" for dinner at home.
In Bergen, Norway, Yohai is gesturing in a way that we called "the cat's paw"--it was his expression of anger or a way of saying: "Enough already!"
Passover 1995, Yohai posed outside the White House with Dad, with his rather artificial looking wave and smile. We made annual visits to the US after this, stopping in favorite places like the magic store, where Yohai bought some tricks, and going to Washington, Virginia, New Jersey and New York. Yohai felt very much at home in the US.
The Game Boy was his constant companion to kill time in airports, and all too often, while most of the family sat around and talked, he'd be absorbed in his games or some other amusement. This was definitely a way to block out distracting sights and sounds. Yohai became quite attached to the color green, and chose green slacks, shirts, and even shoes; he kept looking to buy the very same kind of shoe or pants. In the same way, when he latched onto a subject or hobby, he would pursue it and stay with it. After Yohai graduated from high school, he devoted himself to completing his academic degree but had more time to read science (evolution and creation theories) and for enjoyment, urban legends.
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