One of the kids was watching Kindergarten Cop the other day. I stopped for a second and saw Arnold complaining that the kindergartners he was "teaching" were running amok. His friend gives him some advice:
Phoebe: [advising Kimble on how to be a teacher] Look, you've got to treat this like any other police situation. You walk into it showing fear, you're dead. And those kids know you're scared. Detective John Kimble: [looks at her a moment then nods] No fear. Phoebe: No fear.
Last night NBN held a Parent Education Forum here in Modi'in. At the last minute I decided to go, not holding out much hope that I would learn anything new, since I had attended events like this before.
I'm glad I went.
First of all, there was a session on high school students and the tests they must take (Bagruiot) if they ever want a chance of attending university. It was the first time I ever got a clear explanation of how this system works.
The other session was a more touchy-feely session, geared more towards those who just got off the boat this summer. But I felt I gained much from it.
The presenter noted that when you make Aliyah, you lose a certain amount of confidence: the language barrier, cultural differences, and most critically, perhaps, as a parent. You bring your kids here and its not easy for them. If they were good students in America, suddenly they feel stupid. And if they weren't good students in America, they feel really stupid. They miss their friends and their routine. And they blame you for it.
And you blame yourself for it.
And the kids know that. If you lose your confidence and become afraid, your kids are going to pick up on that in a second.
It happened to me several times over the year. What did I do? I thought. We had a perfectly nice life in Cedarhurst, the kids were settled and happy in their schools, they were actually learning, why did I create problems for myself, and for them?
When you start to think like that, you encounter problems. Your kids are staying up later than they should. You are allowing them certain freedoms they probably shouldn't have. If they tell you they feel sick, you let them stay home from school (we're talking those vague symptoms like a stomachache, not a raging fever--you know, the kind where as soon as the other kids leave they look at you expectantly and say, so what are we doing today? Yeah, that kind).
In general, the kids realize that on some level you have lost that confidence that brought you to this country. This is of course, very scary for them. How can they build their attachment and confidence in their new home if their own parents are struggling with it?
I myself did struggle with this at certain points during the year, but I am starting to feel a return of that old confidence. In America, I was a strong parent, setting up certain limits that I felt were appropriate for my kids. I lost a bit of that over here, partially due to a crisis in confidence (as in, did I screw my kids up forever?). But I am beginning to regain this balance. I am their parent. We made this decision to come here after much debate and soul-searching. We made this decision because we believed that Jews should live in Israel, and we could no longer go on believing one thing and living another. We stand by this decision and my kids have to learn to live with it. They have to adapt.
Please don't take that the wrong way. I am not unsympathetic to what they are going through. I know it is hard for them. I just need to teach them to cope with this struggle. And one of the best ways to do that is to show them how I am coping, indeed to show them that I am coping and not falling apart everytime a difficulty arises. And that I am still in charge around here and they have to live by the rules of the house even if life is difficult. This is a gift I can give to them and what I must remember as we approach the pressures of the school year.