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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Glimmers of Hope

Any parent who wakes up to find that independent, self-indulgent, head-strong teenagers have replaced their cuddly, malleable little kids will be familiar with that feeling of hopelessness which comes with finding that more than a decade of careful instruction on manners, cultural norms and common sense have seemingly been tossed out the window.

The teenage years (in Israel called 'tipesh-esray'; roughly translated as 'stupid-aged') are a frustrating period during which parents are forced to watch their kids making all the mistakes that years of lectures were meant to prevent.  And even the hope that the teens would learn from their mistakes is far from a given as we are often forced to watch them stumble repeatedly over the same obstacles.

But once in a while there is a glimmer of hope; a small ray of light that gives a parent hope that all those lectures and lessons aren't lost forever.

Zahava and I got such a glimmer a couple of weeks ago from Ariella.

It seems that Ariella's class had scheduled its annual 3-day trip for this week.  However the first day of the trip conflicted with a public performance of Ariella's dance class.  Given a choice of a 3-day class trip and having to miss the last in a long series of performances, I assumed that the trip would win out, hands down.

However, last week Ariella came to me and asked my advice about the decision.  When I recovered enough to be able to speak, I asked her which way she was leaning... again, fully expecting her to indicate that she was looking for my rubber stamp of approval for her to ditch the last dance performance and go on the class trip.

Instead she told me that she was really torn.  On the one hand, she began to explain, the 3-day class trip was the high-point of the school year, and as a first year high school student, it was an important social opportunity to forge a bond with her class and teachers.  But on the other hand, her dance troupe was a relatively small one with no understudies... and it didn't seem fair for her to abandon them, leaving a hole in the routines/formations of the performance.

Was this a glimmer of responsibility I was seeing?  It sure seemed like it.

Anyway, I was still unwilling to make the decision for her, but was pleased and proud to see that she actually recognized that a weighed decision was required. 

After sitting in silence for a few minutes, Ariella finally spoke up and informed me that as much as she wanted to go on her class trip, she couldn't leave her fellow dancers for the last performance.  She decided not to attend the class trip.

As proud as I was that she had made such a difficult, mature (and IMHO correct) decision... I felt sad for her having to miss out on her class trip.  Even though this would prepare her for a life of unfairness and maddening scheduling conflicts that rarely resolved themselves to our satisfaction, it simply sucked that a 15-year-old girl couldn't enjoy her childhood just a little while longer.

As an afterthought, I asked her if she thought her school would allow her to miss the first day of the trip and join them late?  Mind you, driving her to the Golan Heights in the middle of the night and then going to work the next day on little or no sleep, was the last thing I wanted to do.  But I felt like there should be some way to reward Ariella for making such a mature decision.  After all, it isn't every day a parent is allowed a glimmer of hope that one of our moody, self-indulgent, head-strong teenagers might actually turn out alright in the end.

Postscript:  In the end I got a bit of a reward as well, since not only did Ariella's school give permission for her to join her class mid-trip... but the location of the outing was switched from the Golan Heights to the Negev Desert, allowing me to actually grab 3 or 4 hours of sleep last night after dropping her off.

Posted by David Bogner on March 25, 2009 | Permalink

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Awesome. Good parenting.

Posted by: Ezzie | Mar 25, 2009 3:09:56 PM

A tough decision, but made with great maturity (and an awfully nice bonus from school and dad). I took my own daughters to see the show yesterday; Ariella was radiant.

Posted by: Shimshonit | Mar 25, 2009 3:18:56 PM

What Ezzie and Shimshonit say on all counts. She was radiant! And with parenting that attentive to detail, how could she NOT turn out marvelous? May she and all of your darlings continue to give you well-earned Yiddishe nachas.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Mar 25, 2009 3:57:41 PM

That is a really mature young lady you've got there. But I knew that when I met her 2 years ago :)

Posted by: SaraK | Mar 25, 2009 3:57:45 PM

Flies in the face of the principle "No good deed goes unpunished".

Posted by: MoC | Mar 25, 2009 4:25:33 PM

yes, sometimes, like a bolt out of the blue, they do something so breathtakingly wonderful you can actually say,"hey, we must be doing something right!" it's a great feeling. kol hakavod -- you must be doing something right!

Posted by: nikki | Mar 25, 2009 6:36:05 PM

A win-win solution... and an impressive display of responsible decision-making. You must be proud parents.

Posted by: Elisson | Mar 25, 2009 7:13:51 PM

Nice story!

Posted by: What War Zone??? | Mar 25, 2009 8:15:17 PM

She's a real team player. Glad things worked out for her!

Posted by: marsha | Mar 25, 2009 9:28:22 PM

I bet your Ariella and my Liat would really like each other. Maybe their paths will cross somewhere down the road.

Posted by: Baila | Mar 25, 2009 11:56:24 PM

Yes, it IS gratifying as you see that bit of adult emrge, isn't it?

Posted by: rickismom | Mar 26, 2009 12:09:38 AM

Nice.. i could SO picture your face when she asked your advice. Deer in highlights face and inside, your heart was racing with such excitement! :)

I think you should be more afraid of the next child! :)

Posted by: val | Mar 26, 2009 12:41:36 AM

Good Abba. She won't have regrets about the decision, and the memory of the performance and then the drive with you will always be part of her memory of the trip.

Posted by: uberimma | Mar 26, 2009 5:06:28 AM

You, sir, are a good dad.

Posted by: Jewel | Mar 26, 2009 7:53:23 AM

Great kid, teen! I understand why you felt so proud.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Mar 26, 2009 8:15:05 AM

What a wonderful child.

And what a wonderful dad. Ariella will never forget what you did for her as long as she lives.

Posted by: Dina | Mar 28, 2009 7:25:54 AM

You are a good dad!! That is a serious drive!

I'm glad she was able to dance at both weddings, so to speak.

Those decisions are the worst. To this day, they make my stomache hurt!!

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Mar 29, 2009 9:33:18 PM

That is something to be proud of, indeed. And it was a VERY smart move to offer to drive her to the second day of the trip.

Posted by: Observer | Mar 31, 2009 5:19:20 AM

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