Living and loving life – on the edge

“Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time,” says a Chinese proverb.

Cruising the streets of the city (photo credit: BENITA LEVIN)
Cruising the streets of the city
(photo credit: BENITA LEVIN)
“GOOD MORNING. We’re going bungee jumping and wall climbing and something else.” That was the SMS message I received first thing from my 12-year-old son. He and his friends had gone camping near Acre in the north the previous night, as part of birthday celebrations for one of his classmates. The birthday boy’s dad was with the group of excited youngsters, so I knew there was a responsible adult in charge. But I couldn’t help but smile wryly at the casual matter-of-fact plans my eldest child was making – clearly bypassing any need for permission or even discussion with his parents about his rather daring and adventurous sounding plans.
Even less amusing was the vague term “something else?” What exactly could that mean, in context of the somewhat dangerous pastimes of attaching oneself to a belt before jumping off a precipice or trying to scale a wall. I consulted with my better half to see if he shared the same concerns. He did sound a little surprised at the said plans that were being laid out by our firstborn, but was quick to add that he was sure the boys would have a lot of fun. (I understood at that point, why some teenagers we know had chosen to break the news to relatives about their respective plunges out of planes and over lakes only after the said deed had been safely completed, and all were safe on solid ground.) Later that same day, our son returned to our home in Ra’anana, beaming. Of course, he and his friends had loved every minute of the daring escapades and assured me there was nothing to worry about. It made me think of the freedom he and his sister were enjoying in their new home. Just 18 months into our new life in a new country with a new culture, and the restraints and rules of before were long gone out the window.
Not only had they taken to the new way of life – the walking, the cycling, the hover-boarding – on the streets, but they also had a sense of confidence and personal responsibility about their plans and arrangements.
“Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time,” says a Chinese proverb. Times have changed. Our children’s social diaries are their responsibilities – and the two-month school holidays at the peak of summer sees children of all ages making the most of their free time in the sweltering temperatures.
For working parents, it can be a tedious period, with many with younger children bemoaning the fact that their hardearned salaries are spent on babysitters and extramural sporting or cultural activities.
It needs to be said that certain workplaces do offer child-care facilities during the holiday break, but not every office can provide suitable care or activities throughout the workday. So, if your children are old enough to make their own arrangements, and are comfortable catching buses with their friends, then you might well find they will have a social life that leaves little time for sleep.
We often smile at how different lifestyles are for young people in Israel. It’s one of the main reasons we moved here. But as we’ve often told our children, with this freedom comes responsibility. Phone are kept on – unless you are camping far up north and have erratic signal – and they do keep in touch about their basic movements and arrangements.
When children are out in groups, the older onse often include their younger siblings.
It’s always heartwarming to see – the way little ones are made to feel part of a group. One can only hope that there is always a “big brother” in the group, making sure everyone is safe, whether they are about to try out bungee jumping or are just crossing the road to buy an ice cream. Loving “life on the edge,” is a lot easier when there is a sense that everyone belongs, and members of your community are always keeping an eye out for each other.
Benita Levin is a television news anchor, communications consultant and life coach. Twitter @benitalevin