This has definitely been a mixed feelings kind of week. I have had an extremely quiet online presence when it has come to the kidnapping and murder of the 3 Israeli boys. Everyone handles things in their own way. I davened for them, I cried for them, and no, I did not think it would have ended up the way it did. I told my boys about them, but we did not dwell on it. I have mixed feelings about dwelling on very sad events with boys. Even though my oldest is 13, they are all still my babies. I guess they always will be. I do not want to scare them, but yet they do need to know about the world around them. They will, G-d willing, have many years ahead of them where they have the opportunity to learn about all the sad things in life, but right now, let them be fairly happy with few cares. They will grow up very soon. Every morning we dedicated our morning parsha learning to the safe and quick return of the 3 boys. We talked about all Jews – no matter the backgrounds – and how these three boys have created a tremendous amount of achdus (unity) just by being Jews. They have brought Jews of various backgrounds from all around the world together. And then came the time when I had to tell them the sad news.
This week’s parsha is Balak and on Sunday I read a wonderful article on the parsha that talked about anti-semitism by Rabbi Stephen Baars. It is hard to explain why this happened. We do not know why. These boys did not do anything, they were not even soldiers. They were just boys coming home from yeshiva for Shabbos. I asked my boys why they thought these boys were targeted. It took a bit but it was my oldest who finally said, “They were Jews?” Bingo. My boys can be ones who do not say much. That is not usual, but in times like this, they just sit there. I talked a lot, not sure what I really talked about but I did relate some of what we talked about before regarding achdus and then what I learned from the article on anti-semitism. I know they were paying attention. I did ask questions directed to individual boys to keep their interest. I just knew I was trying to get to a point, have one of those heart-to-heart conversations that went one direction because they did not talk. No, I was not going above their maturity level. They just do not talk much when it comes to sad situations. The only thing I really remember is that the very last thing I wanted to say was too hard to say. I just was unable to voice it with the tears forming in my eyes. All I wanted to say was that these 3 boys have a very special place beside Hashem and that we need to remember what they taught us. They taught us to love each other.
Life goes on. We will remember these boys for a very long time and hopefully we will remember what they have taught us. Baruch Hashem this finally has a closure. The boys have been found, and all of us can now mourn in our own way and move on.
School is officially over for the year, although we did not do anything to celebrate except not do any school work. It is a time to clean and try to organize since it is hard to do all that when we are learning. I went around with a paint can yesterday to touch up places that needed it. I did not do everything but it did make the house look a bit nicer and cleaner. And then there was the placement exam my 13 year-old-little-boy-who-is-many-inches-taller-than-me took to place into college classes! Yikes. Did I mention that they will grow up fast? Yes, I think he has already grown up so much this year. So, it is official, I have one boy who is registered in English 101 and Spanish 101! 8-| Wow. Both of these classes are online, which is a requirement for us right now. He might be able to place into college courses but he is definitely not ready to take in-person classes. I won’t let him and that is not just because his mother is not wanting to let him go. He really is not ready for what that entails. Now, I spend the summer prepping him for what it really means to take a class. Really, I am not worried about him, he’ll get it, deep inside I honestly know he will be fine. I am his mother. I am worried. But I know he will do fine.
I do not like to give my boys standardized tests mainly because I do not necessarily teach things at the same time as they do in schools. However, the state regulations here require testing to be done in certain years and it is good to have the boys get used to tests so they are not too much at a disadvantage when it needs to be done, so we try to do them every year. We have done the CAT test, but for one of my boys, I have found the PASS test to be the best one. The PASS test tests reading and comprehension, language and math. The test’s idea is to get each child to a certain point at the end of 8th grade. It is also not timed which is good for some children. There are many children who know the answers but are slower at getting all the information out. Each child goes up in all the grades at different rates, sometimes slowly and sometimes jumping leaps and bounds, but by 8th grade they are hopefully all around the same area. My late blooming boy surprised me a lot for he did amazing on his test. There was so much improvement over the last test. There are still areas to improve on but I am very confident that he will catch up really easily now.
In scouts, my Cub Scout boy crossed over into Boy Scouts while my oldest became the Senior Patrol Leader of the Troop! (In other words, the leader of the Troop!) Two boys were counselors at the evening Cub Scout camp last week. The theme was “Knights of the Round Table.” The boys loved that theme! Only one boy is going to camp this summer, and that is the Almost-5-year-old. Unfortunately, we do not have money for the others this year, G-d willing, next year. In the meantime, there is always more schoolwork to do, it is never ending. Math and special project for the secular, and Rambam, Mishnat Yomit, Parsha and Dik Duk for the Judaics. Two boys have decided their special project is to write poems/short stories over the summer and I hope to be able to print it out into books for them. The other boy is going to hone up on his essay writing for school and write a nice essay on the history of radios. Oh, and don’t forget they will be doing several merit badges for scouts as well but that does not necessarily have to be worked on every day. Enough to keep them busy, but still have a little bit of play time.
I think I will go down and get some popsicle sticks for the boys. I bought a watermelon and I think we will cut up pieces and stick them on the sticks to freeze for tomorrow. Yummy nutritious snack! Wishing those in the United States a Happy 4th of July!