Sunday, June 14, 2015

When the Mommy Headlights Get It Right

Sibling rivalry is, of course, a reality in almost any home. In mine, however, where there are six boys – and only boys – the idea takes on an entirely different meaning. My older two boys are basketball players and painters. And another of my boys appears to be following in their footsteps. So that leaves one child sandwiched between all of this trying to find his way.

And that is not always easy.

What is he good at? What can he do? How does he shine?

I’m sure these are questions that he considers, whether consciously or subconsciously, and it’s not always easy to find answers.

So, when he came home recently with a regular piece of paper where he had done some artwork, I took notice. Our kids obviously all come home with artwork periodically. They’ve done a project at school. They doodled during math class (not that!) or they’ve created something with a friend. And sometimes I make a big deal of their work, and other times I say “That’s nice” and try to figure out how to throw it in the trash without them noticing. (Yes, I’m that mom.)

But this time, I managed to have the right Mommy headlights on at the right time. The artwork was on a simple piece of paper. It didn’t have the glory and color associated with the oil paintings my other kids do. It didn’t have the commanding size of a canvas. I could completely have missed the thunder.

But the work was beautiful in its creativity. He had drawn intricate pencil drawings of animals and then, using paper made into springs and glue, he had glued them onto a sheet of paper. So he had a 3D rendering of an animal scene.

I told him it was beautiful and that we had to save it. And then, I had an idea. I took it to a local framer and asked them to create a box frame for his 3D piece.

It just came back Friday and it’s gorgeous. And now, the kid who doesn’t have his oil paintings gracing our walls will have a framed piece of artwork of a very different type on display.

80 shekels spent on a priceless ego boost for the kid who marches to a bit of a different drum.

I don’t always hit the mark – that is for sure.

But when I do, it reminds me so vividly of how careful we have to be around our children; how we have to help each one to cultivate and find his specific talents. And then catch them in the act and celebrate when they do.

These moments can be so easily lost in the mounds of artwork, the carpools to and from activities, the homework and the bedtime routines. But it is our job to keep our eyes open and to catch them in all their glory when, and where, we can.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Unity Through Tears: Remembering Our Boys

This article was published last night on the Times of Israel website.

I'm posting it here for those who don't see Facebook and to have in my records.


We haven’t seen our ninth grade son for a few days, as he’s off on an amazing adventure for the week with his yeshiva. So, when he called last night and I heard his voice for the first time in three days, I wanted to cry.

It’s only three days, you say. Chill out a bit, Mom.

But it’s not about the three days. It’s about the fact that I was so happy to hear my son’s voice, to hear about his adventures hiking and climbing and exploring and about the octopus they found today.

I was so relieved to hear his voice.

Because as I listened to him, I knew that the Ifrachs, the Shaaers and the Fraenkels will never, ever have this opportunity again. They will never pick up the phone to hear Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali say “I’m on my way home, Mom,” or “It was a great day today,” or “I’m really tired and will be there soon.”


And I can’t imagine the burning pain of that realization.

We are heading into heavy days in Israel. As a result of their kidnapping and murder, which brought unprecedented unity to all of Israel, the boys’ parents decided to do something with their pain that would create and encourage unity. Tonight and tomorrow are the Hebrew date when the boys were kidnapped and murdered. Tomorrow, on June 3 they will deliver the inaugural Jerusalem Unity Prize for 2015. As described on the Unity Prize webpage, “The Jerusalem Unity Prize in memory of Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali is a joint initiative between the families of Eyal Ifrach, Gil-ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, the three teens kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in the summer of 2014, together with the Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat and Gesher.”

In addition, the families have called on the people of Israel, and around the world, to celebrate Unity Day.

So my children went this afternoon to Givat Oz V’Gaon, a nature reserve in Gush Etzion named in memory of the three. They participated in a special program in memory of the boys.
Today, there was a national drill held to prepare the country in the event of a multi-front war. When the siren sounded, my stomach dropped and I wanted to cry. I knew it was a drill, and I was still taken aback when I realized just how traumatized I still am by the events last summer.

My husband and I were at the Jerusalem Light Show with three of our boys last year on the night when the three boys were kidnapped. And I have trouble thinking about that event without feeling nauseous. Where was I at the exact moment when the boys entered that car? What amazing display of lights were we gazing at when one of the boys courageously picked up his cell phone and whispered to the police, “I’ve been kidnapped.” How large were the smiles on my boys’ faces as they gazed at the sounds and sights in the moment when the three were shot in cold blood, in the back seat of a stolen car?

These questions haunt me.

It’s not as if I could have changed history – leapt through time and gotten to the Alon Shvut trempiada in time to yell NO! DON’T GET IN THAT CAR! But the memory will remain with me of the juxtaposition of my boys’ happy memories and the simultaneous tragedy that befell our nation.

The days ahead will be ones of reflection, sorrow and memory…and hopefully unity. When I watch my children digging in the dirt, doing cartwheels, playing basketball and learning Torah, I will think of Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali.

And if my high school son calls again tonight from Zichron Yaakov, from Caesaria, from hiking the Land and learning our history, I may just shed a few tears.