Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Parenting Another

I keep wondering what I would write about if I didn't write about Elie and if it is legitimate here on this blog, to write about other things. Sometimes, I write on another blog or site, sometimes I write to friends, but this time, I'm going to write about this here. This isn't about Elie other than to explain that it is why I chose to bring Elie here, why Elie and the others soldiers know that they are loved so much - this is the society in which we live.

I was born in the United States, schooled there, married there. I gave birth to my first three children there and learned the fear and worry that all parents have of strangers who may hurt our children, deviants who may catch them, horrors that may befall them if we but turn our eyes away for a few seconds. That's all it would take, we convince ourselves.

Typically, when I give bad news, I start off by saying "things are okay...but" - there is no bad news here, but I just want to say to all the parents who are about to feel their heart stop for a second...nothing happened, everything is fine.

My youngest daughter called me a few minutes ago. Yesterday, she came and asked me for money. The school is collecting a fund in memory of a soldier who was killed in Gaza. The soldier was the older brother of a girl in my daughter's class so my daughter wants to help.

It is a common practice for children to go from house to house and collect money for various charities. They always go in pairs; always with receipt books. My daughter is 10 years old today. I just spoke to her on the phone and she explained how she and a friend went collecting money. They stopped at a house and...

"the woman was so nice. She told us to come in and then she gave us something to drink and some cookies."

And the part of me that had raised children in America began to panic. Two young girls...going into the house of a stranger..."and she gave us 20 shekels." (About 5 dollars).

And then I remembered...we live in Israel - this is the way it is here. Children are safe here, they really are. It reminded me of something that happened to me when my youngest son was a baby. I was on a bus with him. It was my stop and so pushing the carriage, I maneuvered to the exit with him in my arms. The door opened and the man in front of me went out of the bus.

He turned and held out a hand to take something, to help me. I reached out with the hand that held the carriage. He looked at me and said, "What, you care more about the carriage than the baby? Give me the baby!"

There were people in the street looking at him, people on the bus looking at me. The hesitation probably lasted a few seconds at most and then, terrified, I handed him the baby. I climbed down with the stroller and went to take my son.

He smiled at me and without moving an inch, with my son in his arms, said, "Why don't you open the carriage and then take your son."

I did as he said and then he gently handed the baby back. I looked at him and tried to explain. In America, I would never have handed anyone my baby. He looked surprised for a minute and then smiled, "You aren't in America. In Israel, you hand the baby to someone so that you don't fall with the baby. The carriage," he said and then shrugged his shoulders, smiled and left.

That's how it is here - my daughter went into a strangers house, was given something to drink and eat, and sent safely on her way. This is the society, the land, the people, that Elie defends.

And one more thing...this morning Elie called me and asked me if I was in a certain location...it is exactly where I was, as I was driving to work. "How do you know?" I asked him, already trying to look around.

"I just passed you going down the hill," he said.

He's on his way to a military exercise deep that will start

6 comments:

RivkA with a capital A said...

My kids, when they are in 5th and 6th grade, participate(d) in "hakesh badelet" (the nationwide campaign to raise money for cancer research). They are sent by their school to families in the Old City. This is, perhaps, the safest neighborhood in all of Jerusalem.

However, they are given strict instructions. They travel in groups of 2-4 kids and they are NEVER, under any circumstances, to enter into someone's home.

Yes, this is Israel. And most invitations are genuine and safe. But things happen here too.

Fun said...

Though I don't yet have kids, it is this very difference in lifestyle between Israel and America that drew me to make Aliyah.

I wanted a better life for my future children, and despite the security issues we need to deal with and think about, the value system here is so much more positive than in the States. So in the final analysis, I think they will be better off growing up here. (Now I just have to find a wife and start having them, but that's a separate issue! ;-) )

Emily said...

I came across your blog somewhat randomly maybe a year or so ago and really enjoy reading it. I came to Israel 2 1/2 years ago with my husband and 2 young sons with the intention of just staying for a year. As we now try to figure out whether to stay or go, I often find myself thinking about the fact that staying here means deciding for my sons (who are only 5 1/2 and 3 1/2 years old) that one day they will have to go to the army. I wonder, is it fair of me to make the decision for them that they will have to put their lives in danger? More and more, however, I am starting to realize that it's not a matter of putting their lives in danger (which of course is an unfortunate fact of life when one joins an army!), but rather I am giving them the opportunity to give something back and to protect this, what has become their homeland.

Lady-Light said...

I remember when we lived in Israel and my eldest was five-and-a-half years old, I saw that everyone was sending their little kids to the makolet with a shopping list (a short one, but a list), so after a while, I steeled myself and sent my little daughter; she went down the simtah and didn't have to cross the street-just turned right when she came back out on the sidewalk, and there it was, our little makolet in Rehavia. She handed the owner-- who knew us, of course--her list, he put all the items in the sakit, put it on "the heshbon" and off she went on her way back home.

Of course, she didn't know that I was standing in the alleyway, biting my lip and waiting nervously for her. I would have never done that in the States, and never did.

I also felt your happiness/wonder at being so close to your son, passing on the road...I felt that way just by seeing my daughter (the Tzahal girl) for 2 seconds on Arutz Shtayim!

rickismom said...

For once, I disagree with you. You MUST train kids to be carefull!True, we are safer than America, but today I feel that caution is the order of the day.

A Soldier's Mother said...

Hey Rickismom - I don't agree with myself either. No, I wasn't at all happy to hear she'd gone in...but while in America I'd have been screaming and calling the police, here I simply explained it to her nicely. Yes, things happen in Israel, but it is so different in terms of how children are raised and watched over in a more general way. A child falls here and 10 mothers run to pick him up. A child stops and looks lost, and some mother asks if she can help.

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