Bowling, Winning and Men

If you’ve been following this blog for any period of time, you’ll know that I have three sons. They are each precious to me. And each, so different from the other. Of the three, Elie is the most sure of himself; Shmulik the most stubborn; and, I think, Davidi the most insecure. Or perhaps the word is unsure. He is at that awkward age of 16, teetering between the boy and tomorrow. He is luckier than Elie, in that he has a role model (two even) to follow; and he is less lucky because the path he follows has other footprints on it and it is harder for him to make his own way.

He is the fourth of my children to begin volunteering for the local ambulance squad. There, he is likely to be referred to as Elie’s younger brother, as Elie has remained a part of the team while Amira and Shmulik stopped after several years.

Last night, Davidi went bowling on an organized evening of volunteers – some drivers and paramedics went, but mostly, it was the young volunteers that help the drivers on calls. They are, for the most part, below 18. There are strict rules that require them to end their shift at 10:30 p.m. (which is why Elie and now Lauren start their shifts around that time). If they are on a call, on their way to the hospital with injured people – the 10:30 p.m. is automatically extended, but if the call comes in at 10:31 p.m. – these young people cannot go out (they aren’t even legally insured) and no chances are taken.

In the event that one of them is on an ambulance and a call comes through that there has been a terrorist attack, the driver must stop the ambulance and get the young person out. Drop them at a bus stop, get them a cab – anything but not take them to the attack. It gives us parents a measure of peace…at least until they turn 18.

So Davidi went bowling and somehow – he got sorted into a group of girls his age in the bowling lanes – and he lost ignobly. He was comforted by the fact that he threw the ball faster (and likely harder) than any of the girls (the automated scoring machine reports not just the results but the speed of the ball as it flies down the lane).

“The goal is to hit the pins, not throw the ball fast,” I reminded him and loved the laugh I got and the smile that came easily with it. Sixteen is such a hard age. He’s already talking about driving lessons.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll also know that I have two daughters. It seems so much easier to raise daughters than sons. Daughters are more open to sharing their thoughts and concerns. Aliza at 12 is an endless source of information. Her life, her concerns, her friends (which change almost daily). It’s just so easy to know what she is thinking about, what her concerns are, what brings her joy and what frightens her. Yes, I am blessed with the relationship I have with her, but still, it is one that seems almost without work.

Amira awes me, amazes me, impresses me beyond words. She is a young mother, a wonderful wife. She is building a relationship with her husband based on communication and sharing. She studies in university and balances so much and while I doubt she tells me everything, we have a wonderful relationship which is, like Aliza’s, one that seems almost without work.

Davidi is work – I have to pull things from him. Not affection – that still comes freely. He will come in and say he loves me. He’ll give me a kiss sometimes without my asking (and he’ll suffer my kisses back even more often). There is a depth to him, as there was in Elie. Like Elie, there is much going on below the surface that is his life and thoughts.

He joked about being beaten by girls and yet, he didn’t really seem to mind it that much and definitely thought of the night as fun. I was talking to someone the other day about this blog. I explained that I’m in a strange place with the army. Other than a few days here or there, the army and I don’t have a daily relationship. I didn’t really begin thinking about the army until about 2 months before Elie went in. With Shmulik, I was already thinking about it and so it was more of a continuation than an a fresh start.

Davidi is almost 16 and a half. The army is, at least, 2 years away. It’s too early to imagine, to worry, to think. We went to friends last week; people who had once been our next door neighbors. We saw their children – so big and grown. One wasn’t there. He’s a year and a half older than Davidi and he’s already in the army. The little boy who was so big, even then, is over 2 meters tall now; his hair still blond…and he’s in the army. It brought home to me the fact that 2 years really isn’t such a long period of time. Too soon, I think, too soon to think of it and yet too soon it will come.

Another son, another soldier. No…today, I’ll think about him sitting in the other room studying for a test. I’ll think of him bowling with a bunch of girls, blushing more than a 16 year old boy wants to blush, and laughing because though he can throw the bowling ball very hard and very fast, he just kept missing the pins.

That’s how I’ll cope, from now until perhaps two months before he goes in, when I’ll once again be overwhelmed with the reality that tomorrow is coming way too fast.

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