That first picture is priceless…it is the moment you can no longer deny that your son is a soldier. It’s real…he’s wearing green…and he’s on a path you can’t follow, you can’t control. When they are in school, you can complain to the teacher who doesn’t recognize your son’s abilities or the store manager who cheated them because they were talked into buying something they didn’t need.
There are so many times as my children have grown that I’ve stepped in – perhaps as some suggest, I do it too often and don’t let them fall enough. There are different parenting modes and I have mine. Sometimes I’ll let them fall, but they’ll know that I’m there to catch them if I can…until the army. I can’t yell at their commanding officer; I can’t convince the army that they should release them an hour earlier or let them sleep that much longer. And so the first time they come home in the uniform, you realize that this son that you have raised so far…is yours…but someone else’s as well.
It is the army’s clothes they wear, the army’s discipline and rules they follow. The army will choose when they sleep, when and what they eat…even when they come home. A few hours after Shmulik went off to the induction center, he called me to tell me he was already in uniform and on his way to the base. I asked him to take a picture of himself and send it.