Friday, June 23, 2006

My oldest just got a little older

My oldest turned ten years old today. More than any of my other children, it is through him that I mark time. It was him who first said Daddy, looking directly into my eyes, through him that I made the transition into adulthood.

When I turned ten, my mom gave me my own key to the house. From that day forward, I was allowed to be in the house all alone. For my oldest's tenth birthday, we are moving him halfway around the world.

And it is him, I know, more than anyone else, who will determine the success of our Aliyah and shape the experience that we will have living in Israel.

Because of everyone in our family, it is my oldest who has the most to lose by the move.

It is our oldest who is at the top of his class, who can understand and process information quickly and effortlessly. And who will be thrown into a public school class setting that is taught in a different language, behind in some subjects, in a position in the classroom that he has never known.

It is our oldest who is giving up friends that he will only be able to keep with great difficulty. Keeping in touch will be easier for Veev and me. We have full access to the communication tools that will allow us to keep in touch with people we are leaving behind; we can type quickly and easily, video conference with family and friends, and call people back home at will.

But he is at a point in his life where communication will be challenging. Shooting off a quick email to his old friends will be difficult for someone who types 3 words per minute. At his age, not all of his friends are online, and they have never tried to keep a long-distance friend going.

Veev and I have done this before. Moved from one place to the next, leaving behind old relationships and moving forward into new ones. We know that we will meet friends, build relationships, and get involved in our new community. We know that there are some friends that will be lost to us by distance, others that we will continue to be in touch with. Bouncing from one Yeshiva to the next, one city to the next, has taught us through experience that some bonds disappear with time and distance, while others can remain strong even with only minimal tending.

It is a lesson that he will learn one day, soon, but a lesson that will exact a heavy price on him.

I think he will do well in Israel. I think his apprehension about moving will dissolve the day he finds a kid in the neighborhood who has a baseball glove, or who wants to shoot hoops. Or even better, has also dragged a huge baseball card collection across the Atlantic.

But I worry about him. Ten is not that old that he can't adjust to his new surroundings. He will learn the language, but will he be resilient enough in those difficult first months, as he makes the transition from popular kid to new kid.

He is quiet and thoughtful and sweet, traits that might not translate well on an Israeli playground.

But he is athletic and smart and has a few dirty jokes up his sleeve, talents that could help break the ice as he finds new friends.

I think this year will be the most challenging of his life, and we are betting that he will turn 11 stronger and more resilient than ever. With a new set of friends. And a new language. And a new home.

I hope it works out. For him. And for all of us.

16 Comments:

Blogger Veev said...

~sniffle~

June 23, 2006 10:32 AM  
Blogger DodahR said...

Ditto

June 23, 2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger AuntieLeez said...

ooooooh boy.....should have been warned not to read that.....thanks guys!

June 23, 2006 2:40 PM  
Anonymous The Shver said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 23, 2006 3:59 PM  
Blogger da shevster said...

is making me cry a favorite pastime of yours?

June 23, 2006 8:20 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

HMMM

June 25, 2006 2:08 AM  
Blogger DodahR said...

Sorry, Leez...

June 25, 2006 3:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if in fact you are intent on following veevs emotional neediness and wreck the eleventh year of oldests life, you can always undo the decision and return home.

deep down you know its the right thing to do.

June 25, 2006 5:09 AM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

You see that, Air and Veev. You write a beautifully moving post, and some ass has to come along and ruin it. Some people just don't have any Busha or tact.
-OC

June 25, 2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger Veev said...

Hey, let's keep it clean, OC.

June 25, 2006 10:08 PM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Well done, very moving.

June 25, 2006 11:51 PM  
Anonymous The Shver said...

Dirty jokes????? The Oldest????? Can't even imagine!!!! Yom Huledet Same'ach (formerly Happy Birthday) to The Oldest! I bet he learns to type much faster...also - who needs to type, with webcams around? Anyway, I wouldn't worry - he is taking along the same support system that brought him to this point, and I, for one, am sure it will continue to be in working order for as long as the adjustment takes! You'll all do just fine!

June 26, 2006 8:28 AM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Sorry... My bad.
-OC

June 26, 2006 12:47 PM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 26, 2006 12:49 PM  
Blogger swiftthinker said...

It's funny how we determine time based on the oldest kid. We go from not knowing what to expect with the first kid to be all trained by the second. Happy birthday #1.

June 27, 2006 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Great Auntie Susan said...

It will, please G-d. We're waiting for you - and we so very much understand. We will do whatever is necessary to be there for you and them - especially your oldest - I won't pretend - it will be difficult - but it will be good.

June 28, 2006 4:12 PM  

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