I’m not sure about this whole “letting the kids grow up and become independent” thing. At this point in life, I find myself very well equipped for raising kids, and not at all equipped for letting them go. What? They are my kids. So what if they can vote, drive a car and earn their own money. I hear friends say how great it is now that they have time to themselves and the kids have moved out. I have no idea what they are talking about. Probably, I won’t even be buying less food, in hope that a few of them will get hungry and step in for a bite with some friends. The American model of moving away to another state and going home twice a year seems to me as attractive as amputating my right hand by myself using a pocket-knife. I want the children at home, because that is home, us and our children. I’m never as much at ease, as happy, content, proud, amused as I am with these wonderful people I’ve given birth to. There is that stupid saying: “if you really love someone, set them free”. I say, “If you really love someone, hold them in a stranglehold”. How else will they know you really love them?
This fall, we will go from having all four kids, more or less, living at home, to having one. Our oldest enjoyed being at home during her first year of studies, but now she’s ready to take the next step and move out on her own. I’m glad for her that she feels ready. Actually, I’m glad for the kids that they are gaining their independence. I just feel bloody sorry for myself.
Number two is in the army for another year, and gets home most, but not all, weekends. Once she’s done, I assume she won’t be spending too much time around the ancestral pad, either. She mentioned travelling, which makes me think that she may be moving out of my comfort-zone. Number three just finished high-school. Before he joins the army he will do a one-year program. This is all the rage now, pre-army programs. Between high-school and the mandatory three year army service there is a huge variety of programs designed to help the young adults find their own pace in the world, before once again going into a totally hierarchical framework. One aspect of this is getting used to not being at home. Going directly from the parental home, where groundservices are mostly taken care of, where you sleep in a comfortable bed and eat good food, straight into the army, can be quite a shock. If you have a year of getting used to sharing a room, sleeping and eating like on a hiking-trip, permanently, sharing a bathroom with umpteen other kids, cleaning and cooking for yourself, then you have an advantage. You can only be shocked once by how filthy a shower can get. The other aspect of taking this year off is to learn a bit more about yourself. After 12 years in school, this is a time to study for the sake of learning and not for the sake of passing tests. There are many different kinds of programs. Some center on volunteering. Some are religious and focus on studying religious texts. Many have an ideological agenda, ranging from left to right. Some are boys and girls together, others not. My son will spend a year in the north of Israel studying religion, philosophy, history and society in a mixed religious/secular boys/girls group. His choice. It’s a new program, and I’m a little apprehensive about the logistics. I.e. I think they will be sleeping in hovels and eating, well I don’t know what to call it, but the academic program and the teachers seem fantastic. My son will be coming home every second week-end, and I imagine he will then mostly be interested in food and sleep. Here is a clip produced by graduates of one of the art-oriented programs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsE1cAKM4Yc
So, we’ll be left with one little one, starting 7th grade. At least she has to stay with us for another six years. Minimum. Maybe by then I’ll grow up a little.