Tuesday, August 28, 2012

C.L.A.S.S. Come late and start sleeping

There are advantages to being elected President. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret.

About two years ago, the Israel Ministry of Education decided to shorten the summer school vacation, and start a week earlier. This year, that decision was implemented, and approximately 2,000,000 Israeli children began their school year yesterday, August 27.

This school year, like other school years in Israel, began with a bang. Literally. Three Kassam rockets were fired into the town of Sderot yesterday, just as the kids were making their way to school – to maximize casualties. Once again, G-d was watching, and no on was physically hurt. Just a reminder of the neighborhood we live in.  Since the beginning of the week, seven Kassams have been fired into Sderot.



One of those 2,000,000 children was my youngest child, beginning her last year in elementary school. The night before school began, she laid out the new clothes I had bought her, made sure she had all the equipment the teacher had told her to bring on the first day, decided which clips she would wear in her hair, and went to bed early. The next night, she went to bed an hour later, couldn’t find her shoes in the morning, and ‘didn’t have time’ to copy down the homework. At this rate, she’ll be smoking a nargilla and hanging out on street corners by Chanuka.

Having only one child to wake up these days is a piece of cake. This is my first year with only one child in the system in 21 years. When my oldest first started nursery school at age 3, I still had to get the younger child (aged 8 months) ready to go out also. Then when he was in nursery, I had another younger baby or two to take with me. Now, there aren’t any babies, but it seems so much harder just to get myself dressed.

This year, I just have to drop the one kid off at school on my way to work.
There was one year, when the kids were very little, that I had to travel in three different directions to get four kids to school (two actually went to the same school). I was always late to work (ironically, I was an English teacher). I had to get up what seemed to be hours early (it was about half an hour) to prepare what seemed to be dozens of sandwiches for ‘snack time’ (it was probably only four). I don’t remember why I didn’t prepare them the night before, but I’m sure there was a reason. Today, this kid doesn’t eat anything anyway, so all I do is put some cereal in a bag, add an apple, and snack time is solved.  

One year, my five kids were in five different schools in four different cities around the country (one was in college). On the first day of school I received an angry phone call from one of the schools that I hadn’t picked up my child’s books during the summer. I apologized, attempting humor to explain away my lack of organization. “My kids,” I told the teacher, “are all over the country. I don’t even know where they are, let alone their books.”

“That’s no excuse”, replied the teacher in a particularly teacherish manner, “Mothers are required to know where their children are and prepare them for school properly, no matter how difficult. That is our job.”

Uh huh.

My problem, and I’ll deny it later so don’t bother confronting me on this, is I don’t much believe in school. I was a terrible pupil myself. There was this room in the basement of my high school that the teachers didn’t seem to be aware of, where my friend AB and I hung out most afternoons. Or, if it was too hot down there, we’d leave by the back door and go shopping. I graduated, went on to University, and became a (mostly) productive member of society, so no preaching.

Most of my friends complain about the length of the summer vacation and the amount of days the kids have off during the year, but I always loved having the kids at home. We would just laze about, not doing a great deal. I’m a great believer in lazing about. Getting the kids up and out, not to mention making sure they have their books and sandwiches, is way harder than keeping them entertained (i.e., lazing about) all summer. I’m also not a great believer in mothers running around keeping their kids occupied for two months, taking them to summer camp, the pool, the beach, movies, plays, ice skating, Austria, origami demonstrations, or dress up parties. My parents never took me to even one origami demonstration. (But we did go to mini golf, and if we had mini golf in Beer Sheva, I would take my kids.)

But I digress.

The point I’m making is that I actually miss those days of anarchy in the mornings and evenings, when all the kids were home. I miss the noise and the mess, and the shouting and the laughter. I miss my kids.

I’m so grateful that I still have one at home keeping me young. Even though I don’t know where her books are and I can’t help her in arithmetic or gym, I appreciate that I still have homework time with her and I love buying new erasers and sport shoes.

Of course, mostly I miss lazing about with them. I’m just glad that this last one loves lazing about even more than picking out clips for her hair.