I am always interested to hear what memories my children retain as they grow older; always surprised when they are things I never knew about, or have long since faded from my own memory. Elie and I have sort of settled into a routine with the family shopping. For a long time before and after the army, he handled the family shopping each week. I would go with him or by myself occasionally to fill in all the unusual things and he often added to the list as he saw things on sale.
He’s become an expert at shopping, finding the sales, calculating when the store is charging less for two single-liters of oil than opting for what one would assume would be the economy pack of 2 liters in a single container. Lately, that pattern has changed and we’ve been going together. It is more pleasant, goes faster, and just seems like less pressure all around. So this week, as we have for many weeks, we drove together.
I went to bed too late, slept too little, and woke with a pounding headache. As I often do, I asked Elie to drive. He threw out the idea, again, of his getting a scaled-down motorcycle – a scooter, that would be more economical and help him avoid traffic. I again explained to him that motorcycles, and yes, I confirmed, scooters too, have a nasty tendency to get broken mirrors, snipped wires, flat tires, sugar in the gas tank, and whatever else I could think of to disable them. I am terrified of these things.
Part of it is Israeli drivers – they are notoriously notorious. Part of it is the roads here, the weather. It doesn’t matter the reason, I don’t want him on anything with less than four wheels and two doors and as much steel as possible around him. Somehow, I don’t even remember how, the conversation drifted to his concerns about his younger sister. I spoil her, is the general impression. I drive her to school every morning and Elie thinks she should take a bus. He did, at her age, he reminds me.
In 7th grade, he even walked back from school (a long hike between two yishuvim [villages]). He also rode his bicycle. And that was when this interesting memory popped up.
“Until the Intifada,” he said. “In 8th grade, we could only do it if we had at least 10 guys.”
How long have my children lived with this violence, this threat against their lives? How ingrained are the memories? That they measure milestones by these national events is a sobering reality for a parent, a humbling one.
We try to protect them as they grow, knowing that we will, almost without exception, fail miserably. The last remnants of the trauma of Itamar lingers with Aliza. She watches Arabs more carefully, even those we are friendly with here in our neighborhood. She still wants the doors locked, the window gratings secured – especially Friday nights…because it was on a Friday night that two Arabs stole into Itamar and murdered 5 members of the Fogel family, including 3 children, the youngest, only 3 months old.
Elie’s memory doesn’t cross into the realm of trauma and perhaps that is worse, in some ways.
And at this moment, as I write of our discussion this morning, Elie and Davidi are in the kitchen, peeling potatoes and grating them. Davidi has become our champion grater, and Elie is peeling them and then splashing them into a pot of water, sending water flying towards Davidi and the floor. The glory of ceramic tiles in Israel is that cleanup is quick and so I let them have this fun.
I listen to them laugh, hoping that this memory will be there too, ingrained deep enough to balance those other memories I cannot prevent.
Shabbat shalom – may it come in peace and bring peace to all.