Sunday, January 7, 2007

Three is the magic number

I've made it to the lucky blog number three...and it's amazing how many times this week I thought about what my next post would be about. What I realized mainly though, is that whatever I write about, I must have a point. It may take a while, but I have to eventually get to that point.
So I'll start, and I hope that at some point I'll figure out what my point is.

The topic I could go on and on about (as every parent can vouch for) is my children. My 3 boys, big and small (no, not including my husband...) are a never-ending source of inspiration for contemplation. And frustration. And revelation, and get the point. For almost every bit of joy they bring me -and there's a lot - I always seem to find myself pointing out what they're doing wrong instead of what they're doing that's great. This is a big confession on my part, and I wonder if it stems from the part of me that has become more Israeli. I am aware of it, and I'm working to change it, to reduce my criticizing, and to decrease my over-quota expectations from them. I have American expectations from my Israeli children (say no more!), and anyone who knows how Israeli children behave can stop reading now because you get it.

For the rest of my readers (both of you), let me put things in perspective. The difference between American children and Israeli children is like comparing rabbits to raccoons - whereas the rabbits are quiet, cautious, and sensitive, the raccoons are aggressive, mischievous and make it their business to get into everything they're not supposed to. Maybe that's not the best analogy - add the stubborness of a mule, the noise of a monkey, the cunning of a fox and the drama of a dog...and you get a little closer to Israeli children. Then add the fact that they call their teachers by their first names (a strong sign of the lack of respect for parents or elders cultivated at a very young age), and you start to get the picture. (I'll have to remember to do a post about the Israeli tourist, which is the full-blown grown up version of this character at its worst.)

When I look at the typical Israeli parent, who usually over-spoils their children from a combination of the "Jewish mother" syndrome and the "we could all die tomorrow" mentality, it's easy to see how the children turn out the way they do. It's the "I didn't have anything, so I want my children to have it all" attitude that equates love with material things, that is the surest way to make your child believe that they deserve everything, without appreciating what they have. And the funny thing is that I think that even my children blame my "strange American ways" when I don't give in to their demands. If they want an allowance, they have to work for it ("but Tamar's parents give her 20 shekels a week and she doesn't do anything!"), if they want to connect to the internet, they have to be sure their homework is finished and their rooms are neat (yeah, right), and so on. Nothing is taken for granted.

Which takes me back to my point (we'll get there, I promise). Do I have too many American expectations for their behavior? When I expect them to say please, and thank you, and knock before they barge into my bedroom, is it too much? And if so, should I not get angry when they don't fulfill those expectations? (I'm not even measuring in the heaping dose of ADHD that also plays its part here).

***Note: How embarassing, it is now 3 weeks after I started this post, and I never made it to my point in the end. So I'm just going to stop, and move on to the next post.

And as De La Soul's funky version of the old Schoolhouse Rock favorite goes :
"Now you may try to subtract it, but it just won't go away... Three times one (what is it?) 1-2-3 that's the Magic Number"

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