Monthly Archives: September 2010

Discovering the Hidden Side of my Son

Burf12345. Turns out that’s my eldest son’s user name on the gaming site where he’s a regular blogger! While he’s occasionally mumbled about blogging about gaming, he wouldn’t say where. Yesterday was the big reveal. He told me the name of the website.

Like any mother would, I went to check out what he’s been doing for the past three months, a little nervous that I would discover all sorts of subversive or violent content generated by my little 14-year-old angel. But I was relieved to discover that his “dark” side was far more beige than black.

(A little background: Raising English speaking children in a non-English speaking country is challenging. I spend lots of money on private English lessons and do lots of nagging about reading books. Burf/Amit’s English teacher constantly voices her concern about the fact that he hates writing, so I’ve that’s been a worry as eventually he’ll have to pass high school exams in English here too.)

To my amazement, I unearthed treasure in his blog posts. While most of the subject matter is as foreign to me as putting away laundry is to my children, I was overjoyed by the fluency of his writing. I did find several grammar mistakes, which I pointed out to him. And to my shock, he hurried off to his laptop and corrected his texts without argument (although he did call me The Grammar Nazi at one point, but I take that as a compliment.)

What really got me was his confidence: As a writer by profession, I agonize before pressing the “publish” button on my WordPress dashboard. Amit writes with enviable abandon, disregarding convention and embracing the openness of the internet as he makes his young voice heard. His reward: A respectable placing on the blogger rankings on his site, hundreds of comments and high scores on each of his blogs.

When I saw the flood of comments, I was quite frankly, very proud – someone’s reading my boy’s writing. Then the mommy in me kicked in when I saw a critical comment. I was ready to post a fuming rebuttal comment on this gaming site I can’t comprehend just to be able to tell off some 18-year old user for bad-mouthing my baby. Just as well you have to register before you can post comments or I would have mortified my son. Apparently the registration process is not just an admin tool for the website owners but also an effective cooling off device for irate mommies of bloggers.

So I calmed down and left the website, happy to know that Amit is practicing his English creative writing in a way that may be less than conventional to my generation, but that works just fine for him. And what’s more, it’s encouraged me to take a page from his book and be less uptight about my own writing. It’s good to learn from your kids – thanks Burf12345.

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Multi-tasking the Peace Process

A recent spate of articles that characterize Israelis as being indifferent to the prospects of peace in the Middle East make me wonder: What exactly does the rest of the world expect Israelis to be doing during yet another round of negotiations?

The recent Time cover story by Karl Vick “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” and Roger Cohen’s op-ed piece in the New York Times “Peace Talks? What’s on TV?” each express bewilderment about how Israelis obliviously go about their daily business – developing software, following the latest season of Israel’s version of American Idol, getting their kids off to school, etc. – while Netanyahu and Abbas have it out over the lofty issues of Middle East peace.

Considering that the rest of the world thinks that life in Israel is “as seen on TV” – a militaristic nation of people who, when they aren’t serving in the army, are all either building illegal homes or ducking rockets, it’s not surprising that they also think that its citizens only think, talk and breathe politics. At the discovery that we don’t, they seem to think we should all turn off our TVs, cancel our gym memberships, close our businesses, and most certainly avoid going to the beach, eating in restaurants or traveling abroad, and instead gather in the town squares to wrangle over political issues until the day there is peace in the Middle East. (And I’m wondering here if Americans abandoned their TV sets when the US invaded Afghanistan or Iraq. I suspect that prime time ratings didn’t drop too much.)

Well, strangely enough, Israelis DO have lives and can multi-task the peace process. Contrary to this latest buzz about blasé Israelis, we do care. It’s just that we’ve been caring for 17 long years. After 17 years the magic fades. Indifference sets in as we exercise our democratic right to be skeptical and only listen with half an ear to the proceedings in their “same squabbles; different year” formats. We switch from the news to CSI quicker than we did when we were transfixed by the historic pictures of Rabin, Arafat and Clinton on the White House lawn in 1993.

But if and when peace does come, Israelis will embrace it with a far longer attention span than the international media, and at the same time, we’ll continue sending our kids to school, peddling apartments and, of course, watching TV.

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