Monday, March 28, 2016

Parenting during an Intifada

The first assumption is that this is an Intifada but I think it's fair to call the events of the past six months a low level, incredibly consistent uprising, so Intifada it is. Also, I noticed that at least some media are calling it the Knife Intifada, so that's additional support for the term Intifada. Now to the larger issue: how to parent mobile children during such times. This brings us to the second assumption of the post: it's impossible to keep any semblance of control over mobile children.

What are mobile children? For the purposes of today's discussion, they are any dependents who are old enough not to need anything more than tertiary monitoring. Unfortunately this describes all my children.

Son #1 is in the army which means most of the time he has a gun and travels with other soldiers who carry guns. When they are together, I worry less. It's the off time that concerns me the most. He comes home for Shabbat at 10:00 pm Thursday night and decides that it is an excellent time to go to Jerusalem. I know it's partly my age, but at 10:00 pm Thursday night I think it is an excellent time to put on my pyjamas. And what am I supposed to say to someone the army deems old enough to carry a gun on behalf of the country: "No, you can't go?" That's what I want to say, but he is almost 21, so it is ridiculous.

Son #2, upon hearing that Son #1 is going to Jerusalem, decides to go too. And for good measure says that he will drive so that Son #1 can catch up on his sleep en route. Keep in mind that Son #2, who lives in Jerusalem most of the week, knows full well that we will attempt to thwart his plan -- he is only 18 and just arrived home for Purim -- hence his gracious offer to accompany his brother. Of course, he was just praying that his brother would come home so he could justify taking the car back to Jerusalem. Apparently the Fates have looked kindly on him, and off they go.

That leaves us with Daughter #1, who upon noticing that she is home alone yet again, just goes out. None of my warnings to my sons hold any concern for her. At least she is in Ra'anana, although based on events of the past several months, that is no guarantee of safety either.

I tell them not to drive on highway 443 and to stay away from the Old City, but once they leave in the car I have utterly lost control.

I quickly send a WhatsApp telling them to call when they get there, but at 8:00 am the next morning I still haven't heard from them. First I panic and then I realize that, Thank God, there have been no middle of the night visits from the police, so things are probably okay. However, I don't want to be negligent so I send a second WhatsApp in CAPS asking them if they have arrived in Jerusalem yet.

When I finally speak to Son #2 he is at a total loss to understand my concerns. "There's nothing to worry about Ema," he tells me totally exasperated by my list of dos and don'ts. He thinks the media are over-reacting and people who are avoiding Israel are ...... (assume nothing nice is missing from this sentence). He fully intends to keep doing whatever it is he does regularly when he isn't in school.

I don't want him to be fearful but I also wish he had a slightly more cautious nature. So far, for him, it is good to be 18. I pray it stays that way. I also can't believe that I am relieved that my other son has a a big gun. (I just reread that sentence because I can't believe I just wrote it. There's a lot of suspended belief in my life these days.)

After over-dwelling on these thoughts it finally dawns on me -- not for the first time -- that life is truly out of our hands. A power much greater than I can truly imagine is in control. As a parent that doesn't really cheer me up but it does force me to accept that life must go on and we cannot  be bullied into submission. If the past is any indication heeding the threats of bullies and intimidators did not serve us well either.