Children walking to school.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Devarya's pencils are sharpened, her purple backpack is packed with books, and her healthy lunch is ready in the refrigerator.
After meeting her teacher at an emotional orientation at Yehuda Halevy School in Jerusalem’s German Colony on Tuesday, she is more excited than ever about her first day of school Thursday.
Devarya is the third child I have sent to first grade.
I have been privileged to be the father of the first two since their birth. Devarya was one of the four bonuses who came with marrying her mother last December.
The comparisons with the popular TV show from the 1970s, The Brady Bunch, came when we decided to blend a family of six children. We embraced the comparison, the kids became hooked on the show, and we dressed as the Bradys on Purim.
But while Marcia Brady was uptight about starting at a new school in an episode that first aired in 1972, Devarya is too happy about advancing to a new stage in life to be nervous.
It is wonderful that in Israel, starting first grade is a milestone that is celebrated so beautifully. The synagogues in our neighborhood compete over whose ceremony in honor of incoming first-graders is more impressive. My wife's employer, the Israel Democracy Institute, gave Devarya and other incoming first-grade children of employees a considerate gift of school supplies and games in celebration.
This is a country that encourages having children, with monthly allotments to parents for each child and parental leave for both parents that Americans can only dream of. Israel still has a ways to go, however, when it comes to coordinating schedules of schools and the workforce.
August is very hard for many Israelis who must find arrangements for their children in order to be able to go to work.
But for those of us who are privileged to be able to work from home, the entire summer can be a joy. We can spend time with our children, educate them, and take them to see the country.
A poll of 15- to 17-year-olds taken by New Wave Research for Israel Hayom this week found that 64 percent believe they learn much more important lessons from their parents than they do from school.
Obviously a sizable portion of those children intended to criticize their schools with their responses, rather than praise their parents. But let’s not complain about our children when they are right.
The first day of school is also the first day when we as parents must let go of our kids and allow someone else to teach them and keep them busy for a while.
That is great for the kids, who can only stay at home for so long. I am sure most parents count down the days until their children are back in school.
But for me, the first day of school is the saddest day of the year. It is the day when they take away the people whose company I have been enjoying.
So goodbye to Devarya and her five siblings.
Play time for parents is over.