Flipside: Military might

"...which proves that it's our own fault," Adina interrupts Reuma, as the two women wait in line outside a neighborhood branch of the Interior Ministry, where they have come to renew their children's passports. "Not necessarily," Reuma says thoughtfully, in the style usually reserved for her family-therapy clinic. "It's extremely common for adolescents to have great difficulty waking up in the morning." Adina's daughter smiles at Reuma's son, her braces gleaming in the afternoon sun. The boy, her classmate, does not return the expression of solidarity. He is too busy bracing himself for the embarrassment his mother is certain to cause him in the course of this errand. "Then how do you account for the fact that the minute they get into uniform, they're suddenly able to get out of bed on command?" Adina challenges. Being a family law practitioner, she is well-versed in the art of cross-examination. Reuma nods in concession. "Thank God for the IDF," she laughs. "The organization that instills in five minutes what we parents can't manage in 18 years." A mother of five, Adina agrees. "Two down, three to go," she says, winking at her daughter, who winks back. A mother of four, Reuma sighs. "These mornings are killing me," she says, winking at her son, who kicks a discarded Coke can at an imaginary goal-post, pretending he doesn't know her. "Maybe if I said 'rise and shine' with the barrel of an M-16, I'd have better results." "Or you could try my personal last-resort favorite," Adina counsels. "Pouring large glasses of water on their faces." "You've never really done that," Reuma says gleefully, narrowing her eyes. "Have you?" "I've got witnesses to prove it," Adina says, legalese intact. "One of whom is standing right beside me here." Her daughter offers another metallic grin. Reuma's son is suddenly impressed by this girl, whom he'd always thought of as a goody two-shoes. But he doesn't react to her mother's story, for fear of falling prey to a similar fate. Since it's something he can't imagine suffering as a substitute for his own mother's morning ritual of poking, cajoling and finally screaming - a human "alarm clock" he has come to rely on. Maybe even revel in. His own personal "Reveille," as it were. THE SOUND of an explosion jolts the crowd. Reuma's son looks up with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. It's been ages since the last suicide-bombing in his immediate vicinity. "Uh-oh, what was that?" Adina asks no one in particular. "Just a bunch of juvenile delinquents engaged in pyrotechnic pranks," a man says irritably, both because of the noise and because, having lost his old ID card, he is put out at having to be here to apply for a new one in time for the elections. "Where has all the parental discipline gone?" another man grumbles. "In our day, no such nonsense would have been tolerated." "Just be grateful they're not throwing them into some church," a woman mutters, referring to the incident in Nazareth, where a Jewish Israeli and his Christian wife caused a riot by setting off firecrackers in the Basilica of the Annunciation - an event that threatened to become a symbol of political-religious Middle Eastern strife. "We needed that little fiasco like a hole in the head." "The couple was mentally unstable," Adina says with disgust. "They were the ones who asked Yasser Arafat for political asylum a few years ago, and now they think that violence is going to get them their children back?" "Which is precisely why the children were removed from their custody in the first place," Reuma says, defending her colleagues. Not that anyone was questioning the judgement of the welfare authorities in this case. Another loud boom causes them all to jump slightly, in unison. "Enough already!" someone shouts into the air. "You wanna give someone a stroke or something?" "Apropos of strokes and lack of parental discipline," Reuma says to Adina, lowering her voice as though discussing something private. "If Arik Sharon hadn't had one already, he surely would be having one now, what with Omri going to jail - and all that other corruption stuff." "Are you kidding me?" Adina protests. "The prime minister put his son up to all those shenanigans!" "So, it really is illegal?" Reuma asks for Adina's professional assessment. "Being a bad father, you mean?" Adina responds. "It ought to be." "Yeah," Reuma says. "But Omri's a bit long in the tooth to be protected by the welfare authorities." "Speaking of authorities," Adina says seriously, looking at her watch, "what's taking them so long in there? I've got to get back to work sometime during this millennium." "Yeah, Mom," Reuma's son enters the conversation. "When is it gonna be our turn? I've got a Scouts meeting you have to drive me to." "Why don't you take the bus?" Reuma suggests, not really meaning it. "Ha, ha, ha," he mocks. "Very funny." Reuma looks at Adina, as if to say, "You see what I have to put up with?" Adina shrugs. "Once they get into uniform, suddenly they're not only capable of taking the bus, but of standing the whole way, even if it's a three-hour ride." "God bless the IDF," Reuma repeats wistfully. "For working miracles." Her son rolls his eyes. Another blast goes off, eliciting a fresh round of tongue-clucking. "There's nothing miraculous about it," an eavesdropper interjects. "In the army, all your actions have consequences. Good and bad. It's that pure and that simple." Reuma thinks better of entering into an argument over the complexities of behavior modification - a method she tries to discourage in her clients. "...which proves that it's our own fault," Adina says to Reuma, as their consecutive numbers are called out by the clerk. ruthie@jpost.com