It’s now one month since Elie entered the army. It’s been a month of worry, and a month of learning to accept. It’s been a month of growth for Elie, and for the family. We have learned to cherish moments, to grab them and hold them close. When he comes home, when he calls.
Tonight, he cannot call me to wish me a good night. To tell me what he did during the day and how things are going. He doesn’t call every night, but he calls quite often in the one hour free time per day they are given before they go to bed. So much is regulated for them – when they get up in the morning, how much time they have to say their morning prayers, eat their breakfast.
They have a specified period of time for dressing, for rest periods, eating, and more. They are encouraged to call home because, as I have come to learn, the army recognizes that their soldiers need to have their parents calm and aware of what is happening to them. We become a sounding board, another pair of eyes watching over as they take our sons and transform them into soldiers.
As I wrote, Elie won’t be calling tonight because he called last night to tell me that they would be out on an exercise tonight. More shooting practice, and this time, Elie will learn how to shoot…well, some big thing with a gun on top. Happily, this weekend Elie will be coming home again.
That’s another thing the army recognizes – the need to do things gradually. To take a boy from his home, after he has grown there 18 or 19 years is a hard thing to do and so the army recognizes that they need to send them home often enough that we understand that we are not losing a son but rather, our son is gaining new experiences. These boys are not ready to be soldiers and hike and run great distances. They need to be built up – strengthened, and so, Elie and his unit walk several kilometers – more and more as time will go by.
What all of this tells us, teaches us, is that we aren’t the first. The army actually knows what it is doing with our sons…at least so far.
So – today it is one month that my son has been in the army. There is no cake, no telephone calls, no celebrations. I’m not sure if anyone but me even realizes the significance of the anniversary.
Somewhere, at this moment, Elie is sleeping under the stars of the Negev Desert in a sleeping bag, with his gun within reach. And miles and miles away, I sit here with a quiet sense of satisfaction – that we have come this far. I brought a small 6 year old boy with beautiful blue eyes to Israel and now he has grown old enough to serve in the army.
And a sense of dedication – and a sense of pride.
Lila tov, hamudi (good night, my sweet one).