When I think about my first born son, I remember the days when he was first born, and the adorable froggy outfit that we borrowed from friends.
I remember each milestone, each moment when he sat up, smiled, rode a bike, ate sushi (yep, that’s true), and played with his new brother, Yehuda.
And if you asked me to picture Matan, in my mind, I might have a picture that looks like this
What I wouldn’t have, however, is the picture of this….
And I certainly wouldn’t think about this:
Because to me, my 14 year old is still a little guy. He was my first grand baby love, the one who taught me how to be a mom. And he continues to teach me so much each and every day.
And tomorrow, he leaves for high school. It’s hard to explain to people abroad what the Israeli high school system is like. The boys learn a great deal in high school and their days are quite long. Some boys return home each night after their learning, but they often do so at 7 or 8 at night. For this reason, and for many others, many boys and their families choose to have them attend sleep-in schools. Now, these schools could be as close as the next town over, or as far as a few hours away. The idea isn’t to send them far away, but to send them to a nurturing location that will help them to grow and learn; the school that is best for each child.
We wrestled a lot with where to send Matan, and Sussya
was an obvious choice for us. It’s not easy to think of him being away all week and returning home for Shabbat (and often on Tuesday afternoons) but we have watched other boys who have graduated from the school and we’ve marvelled at how the school has tranformed them.
The school has four main programs
: The Beit Midrash Study Program where they continue their connection to holy texts and to their studies; the Environmental Courtyard where they learn about development, reconstruction and restoration; Social Involvement where they do chesed (acts of kindness) and Environmental Studies.
As we were discussing Matan’s options, I told him that it’s not often that parents say to a kid “Please go somewhere to school where you won’t have to only pour your heart out all day over books! We want you in an environment that will develop your character, take you hiking the Land and expose you to so many other aspects of the world.”
And he listened.
So now, the consequences of this choice is that we are taking him to school tomorrow. And my heart breaks a little bit just thinking about it. I’m so excited for him. And at the same time, it’s going to be a major change in our family, in our interactions and in our time that we spend with him.
And we have to hope and pray, as have parents since the beginning of time, that we’ve given him the tools he needs to continue growing; that we’ve helped him to develop the wings with which he will fly to this next adventure.
Fly away my first born – but know the nest is always, always here for you when you return.