Good and Bad Children

Emma: Aba, read me a story please.

Aba: Sure Emma. But Emma, a short one. Because soon we’re going to hear a loud noise outside, and we all have to be quiet, OK?

Emma: Yeah Aba, because Lea is sleeping, right Aba?

Aba: Yes, that too, Emma.

I’m worried the siren will frighten her, so I just want to prepare her as much as I can. Meanwhile, Emma picks out a book. It’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Aba: OK Emma, which one do you want?

Emma: This one!

Aba: OK, here we go.

Good and Bad Children

Children, you are very little,
And your bones are very brittle;
If you would grow great and stately,
You must try to walk sedately.

You must still be bright and quiet,
And content with simple diet;
And remain, through all bewild’ring,
Innocent and honest children.

Happy hearts and happy faces,
Happy play in grassy places–
That was how in ancient ages,
Children grew to kings and sages.

But the unkind and the unruly,
And the sort who eat unduly,
They must never hope for glory–
Theirs is quite a different story!

Cruel children, crying babies,
All grow up as geese and gabies,
Hated, as their age increases,
By their nephews and their nieces.

It’s 7:59 pm.

Aba: OK Emma, now, soon you’re going to hear a loud noise, and we’re all going to be very quiet, OK?

Emma: OK Aba.

Aba: Good girl.

The sirens start wailing. Karen and I stand up straight, even though we’re not in public. We just do it.

Emma starts to giggle…

Emma: Aba, I hear it!

Aba: Shhhhh….

Emma: But Aba…

Aba: Shhhhh…..

As we stand silently, I notice how the farther I get from my schooling years in Israel, farther from the system, the harder it is for me to connect. And lately the whole standing silently act is starting to give me the creeps. It feels big-brotherish… But then I give thanks for living in a place that doesn’t take its fallen for granted. A place that actually cries for the dead, and doesn’t celebrate with Memorial Day sales. Suddenly a bit of the big-brother actually seems sane compared to that.

The sirens begin to fade.

I bend down, put my hands on both sides of Emma’s head, and kiss her on the top and bless her. Probably the first time I’ve ever blessed anyone, and really meant it.

Aba: Inshallah, you will know no war, and you will never wear a uniform.

But deep down, I know it won’t happen.


15 Responses to "Good and Bad Children"

  • Mo-ha-med says:
  • Frannie says:
  • Shir says:
  • Ami Kaufman says:
  • Danny says:
  • Karin Lewis says:
  • Lee'ad says:
  • Ami Kaufman says:
  • Jodi says:
  • Shelly says:
  • Ami Kaufman says:
  • Rheta says:
  • Ami Kaufman says:
Leave a Comment