Monday, March 28, 2011

Homework in how to save a life

My kids' idea of an emergency: a child chased by an airplane and a man with a gun

My middle child is currently in the second grade of school (Kitah Bet); she's very bright but not too diligent in the hours after school. Well she really hates doing homework. She'd rather build castles from Lego or have a tea party for her many, many Barbies; which is understandable but highly unacceptable in our household. I sometimes have to act as the "bad cop" and make sure that she accomplishes all her assignments in Math, Science and Hebrew. Today she wasn't allowed near the TV unless all her homework was done. We had our usual quarrel about work before fun (a concept she totally refuses to accept) and then she sat down finished her tasks and handed me the booklet for inspection.

The headline of the booklet is: "I am always prepared." It is issued by the Home Front Command of the Israeli Defense Force, and its' subject is not science or English but how to prepare second graders to emergency situations. One of the home assignments is to draw what in the child's opinion is an emergency situation. My daughter drew a kid that missiles fall on his head from a plane. The booklet lets the kids know what do to in cases of an earth quake, a sudden fire or a missile attack. Now I know I should be pleased that my kids will be raised to respond calmly and responsibly to any unfortunate situation that they encounter in their young lives. My daughter knows by heart the emergency numbers in Israel (we have three different numbers here for the police, fire department and ambulance). We also live in an area of the world that is not famous for its tranquility, and kids here have missiles falling on their heads sometimes on a daily basis, it is necessary to be prepared. But in a small corner of my heart I ache for the innocence that is lost so quickly. That my girl, not yet 8 years old already knows that there are people out there that want her gone and she needs to be ready for the worst case scenarios.

Now I am a born Israeli and grew up like this. I was a teenager in the first Golf war when Iraqi missiles presumed chemical, fell something like 1km from my house and shook the whole building. I grew up with warnings from terror attacks and with my bags being checked each time I enter a public place. I am excellent in Paranoia. Now my kids grow up like this and I can't help but feel that it is not really normal.  I think there is something a bit askew in all of us that grew up like this. I remember when I first entered a mall in the US and no one checked my bag. I was appalled, how can they just let anyone in?
This is our way of life. Knowing that it is insane but pretending that all is normal. I'm trying to stay optimistic and hope there will be other days in the future. Hope that my grandchildren or great-grandchildren won't store gas masks in their closets only clothes and homework only in math.   


  1. I agree.
    I remember my grand parents telling me (more hopping than knowing) that when I'll grow up I will not have to serve in the army, since peace will arrive. I ended up serving 7 years...
    on the other hand its better than living next to Fukushima...

  2. Its terrible that any child should have to realise that people hate and that hate can affect thier little worlds. I am living in a country where that hate is cultivated and its very hard to see. Pray for protection.

  3. Hi Simcha
    Thanks very much on your comment. I do hope they'll come a day and this type of school assignment won't be necessary.