Recently, a friend of mine read a list of the top 15 facts they forget to tell you about aliya, which in fact was a blog post written by Neil Lazarus on this very site. The first fact he mentions is that, “Your children will be Israeli. A small detail but important. Not only will they be first-generation sabras, they will laugh at your Hebrew, correct your grammar and wonder why you demand they use such words as “please” and “thank you.”
Thank you for that, Neil. I’ll take it from here.
Since arriving in Israel, I have observed on a rather consistent basis, Israeli children. While Neil points out that the future children of olim will be Israelis, who will laugh at our terrible Hebrew and correct our grammar (and trust me, I will be correcting their grammar too), I have seen a side of Israeli children that has been quite eye-opening.
Recently, I was babysitting — well sort of babysitting…maybe only assistant babysitting. The incredibly generous and hospitable family with whom I am staying at the moment asked if I would be around one evening while they went out to a wedding. At home were five of their eight children (and yes, with all of their children, they have given me room and board until I get settled – they are THAT kind of family). So, I was home with their 10 year-old, 8 year-old, 6 year-old, 3 year-old and 1 and-a-half year-old.
I will not go through all of the details of the night, including the ten year old preparing dinner and helping three of his younger siblings get to bed, but I will say that I had very little to do with the process.
What I will say is the ten year-old boy stayed up with his crying baby brother until he fell asleep on his parents’ bed. And when the three year-old woke up from her sleep and started to cry, she was not comforted by me (not for a lack of trying), but by her 6 year old-brother who woke up and hugged her and spoke in soft, sweet words to calm her down.
Not only are these children more independent than many adults I know, but they are also kind to one another.
Now, I’m not sure if this behavior is representative of all Israeli children, if it is a product of being a part of a large family, or if it is the result of excellent parenting. It is probably a combination of all three.
So, maybe my kids will speak Hebrew better than me, and maybe they will laugh because I have a hard time reading my electricity bill (hopefully I won’t by the time they come around), but if my children are able to have this type of love and tenderness for each other, then perhaps Neil, having Israeli children is not the worst thing in the world after all.