August can be a really hard month as a parent in Israel. The country loves its children. And the country has a very high percentage of families who rely on two incomes. And yet, for some reason that I have yet to understand after 19 years, there are very few camp choices for kids in August. Most of the official camps end in late July and the daycare for little people ends around August 8. And then there are these looming weeks of scrambling to find ways to keep the kids occupied while you work, or taking off more time than you might have from work, or sharing the load by juggling with a spouse.
It was never an easy time to get through and I see it with my younger coworkers now.
But…and there is a really lovely but here…when the kids get older, August becomes a time of adventure. When these days arrive and I realize that my children are ALL over the place, I put out a message on the family Whatsapp group. “Ok guys! Everyone post one picture showing us what you’re doing and how you’re feeling today.”
And then the pictures start to roll in, and everyone comments on each other’s adventures. The first to arrive was a pretty picture from the Kinneret where the 15 year old has gone to camp with friends.
Next up was Thailand and a much deserved two week break for the army guy who just finished 3 years of service (and will return for more soon).
Then we got a picture of someone cleaning the floors in our son’s new program in Keshet (Golan).
Next up was the army kid showing us his desert scene.
The 12 year old might actually be the busiest of all. Every single day he has another plan with friends, another meet up. They organize these get-togethers entirely on their own. Sometimes they just spend time together in our community. Other times (like today) they take buses to go bowling, to the beach, to the movies, etc. So today’s picture was of the inside of the bus stop, getting ready for the beach.
Finally, we heard from the last guy who has met up with 20 friends from his high school class to camp on the Yarden for two nights to swim, BBQ and enjoy.
And then, of course, Josh and I shared our pictures of ourselves quietly working at our computers (without juggling kids or stressing about entertaining them)!
Why did I think this was blog-worthy? Well, for a few reasons.
- To those of you who are still sweating it out as parents of young people in August – this too shall pass. I never would have dreamed that the day would come when we were home alone for a night or two, while all of the children were out adventuring and entertaining themselves. But it really does happen.
- To those of you who watch the news in Israel and see only fear, terror and strife, it’s important to see other sides of life in Israel. The lack of structure in August allows our kids to show their most creative sides; it enables them to make their own schedules, to gather together in beautiful locations and to relax and enjoy, unscheduled. It feels like a throw back to the summers our parents or grandparents might talk about fondly, where the day is long, the energy high and the opportunities endless. It’s part of the beautiful side of growing up in Israel and shows the dichotomy we feel here; while there are many struggles, there is also such a sense of freedom for children. They figure out the bus schedules, bring their own money along and learn amazing skills as they adventure and enjoy.
Looking back at those stressful years entertaining young children, I marvel at where we are today and at how independent, adventurous and social my kids’ August plans are.