Milk, cheese, eggs… and pepper spray

Like any parent today, I’ve got a list of growing items that are constantly being added to my shopping list. Because I’m not as computer savvy as my husband, my lists tend to be written on scraps of crumpled paper that are stuffed into the hidden recesses of my purse rather than being of the virtual kind. I have a smartphone, so part of my list is also on my notepad app and then I rely on my memory for the other items, which has proven to be the least effective of my methods. We are the (not-so-proud) owners of Alexa, Amazon’s “cloud based service” which besides providing music and weather reports can be annoying as heck. But my husband, while listening to his beloved classic rock station (let’s hear it for Q107!) on Alexa, will intermittently add items and reminders to his phone by asking Alexa to “jot” it down for him. She automatically syncs with his smartphone and lo and behold, his shopping items and reminders pop up within seconds of his conversations with her. (She listens to him far more than I do, which explains his affinity for her 🙂 Me – I still park myself in the corner of the supermarket and search through my Mary Poppins type bag in search of that crumpled piece of paper which will help restock my fridge, remind me to pick up my dry cleaning and get to the pharmacy for that all-important prescription.

One of the important items on my mental list this past week was pepper spray. Yes, I need to take my son’s down comforter to the cleaners before the cold weather creeps in, which I have not gotten around to just yet, and I need a new sponga mop and some toilet cleaner. I will no doubt end up at the supermarket at least half a dozen times this week alone and will forget to buy these items, but the pepper spray had become a priority on my list, stubbornly remaining in the front of my mind. Thankfully, despite rumors of there being a shortage in this country, I found an online site which happily took my Paypal order and will deliver three premium cans of pepper spray within the week.

I crossed that off my mental list and breathed a sigh of relief. And it was a strange feeling. This sense of relief after purchasing weapons with which to arm my girls. I was planning to buy only two cans – my third girl is in the army and has her own can, but a good friend of mine stared at me incredulously: “you’re not buying one for yourself?” It never dawned on me. She has it sitting on her lap at the ready as she drives into Jerusalem. So I bought three. For the low price of $46, I managed to give myself a little peace of mind. Crazy.

But the pepper spray is not enough. I have one daughter that is picked up by a bus in front of my house and is dropped off at the school gates. So while she does hang with her friends at the mall after school hours, I’m a little less worried about her. My other daughter attends school in Jerusalem and takes public transportation. Sitting on the bus, snuggled into the window seat with her ear buds deep in her ears listening to her favorite music, or dozing off for the forty five minutes it takes to get her to and from school is not OK anymore. Being vigilant and aware of her surroundings is a must. So while the pepper spray makes me feel better, it will do her no good if she’s not paying attention to what’s going on around her. Every kid who takes public transportation needs to pay keen attention to everyone who gets on the bus and they need to trust their instincts.

I’ve told my daughter to watch for anyone wearing a heavy overcoat in this still-hot weather. Shifty eyes is another thing to look out for and sitting in the aisle seat makes for a quicker escape. Eyes open and all senses on full alert is a given. If she senses anything weird or out of place, I told her to tell the bus driver right away or just insist that she needs to get off the bus. The two hundred shekel she would spend on a cab to get home will be well spent if she senses real trouble. As it happens, she’s not a paranoid girl to begin with, so there are no conspiracy theories going off in her head every other minute – and my purpose in teaching her to be wary was not to frighten her, freak her out or give her nightmares. Unfortunately, this is our reality and I want her to be safe, to be vigilant and to be proactive.

In five days, I will be sitting with my two daughters and we will carefully read the instructions on how to properly operate our new cans of pepper spray. I am arming my daughters with a weapon that I hope they will never ever have to use. But it is important that they learn not just to defend themselves against the threat of injury, but equally – if not more – important that they NOT view themselves as future victims.

Our people have been victims of baseless hatred and violence for far too long. And that has to stop. We have an absolute inalienable right and privilege to be able to protect ourselves by any means necessary.

About the Author
Chavi Feldman has a degree in graphic design and advertising and works primarily as a music teacher. She has lived in Israel for more than two decades.