Update on that babysitter. . .

The babysitter continues to appear at gan without the baby in tow. Today I mentioned to her that it was against the law to leave a child under six alone in the house. “What, for five minutes, asleep in the crib?” She said that the mother knows about it (that makes it all right then, no?) I said that it was nevertheless illegal and there could be a fire. She responded in typical Israeli fashion, “Kacha gidalnu et kol hayeladim” (that is how we raised all the children). Well, they’re fine, aren’t they?

Guess I’ll keep my mouth shut next time. I will have to remember this incident if that boy ever invites my son over to play.

The conversation reminded me of a lecture by a psychologist, who gave two explanations for why today’s parents have such a hard time. First, our parents knew what was right, even when they were wrong, and they expected obedience from their children. We have lost that confidence and our children sense our confusion and react accordingly. Second, we have lost the close-knit community that helped keep our kids in line. In the old days if the neighbor would see a child doing something questionable, he would rebuke the child, who knew his parents were going to hear about it. Nowadays we value our privacy too much and even if people know what is going on, they are afraid to say anything. Parents get defensive.

Actually there was another incident today. My husband was at a store he frequents, sometimes with the children, and the storekeeper said that my young children were there the other day (including the “tinoket”–my youngest is close to three) and “put some things in their pockets”!! I am sure he is mistaken as my younger two have been home every afternoon this week, we live too far for them to even think about going there on their own, and I rarely even send the older kids to that store. I haven’t been there myself in months. I told my husband he should have called me immediately so I could get the whole story, and also given the storekeeper our number so we could be notified the next time he sees those children. Even when I know there is no basis, it sure doesn’t feel good to have one’s children accused of shoplifting. But if my kids are doing something wrong, I want to know about it.


  1. The fact is that people do make excuses for themselves when they just want to run out briefly. I know a mother who would leave her 4 year-old “in charge” of her two younger ones when she had to go out around the corner to meet her son’s bus. It just seemed to burdensome to pack up the kids for that. I understand the difficulty, but I could never face the guilt if something should happen under those circumstances.

  2. RaggedyMom says

    It must be interesting to navigate the interplay between cultural differences and safety regulations that ought to be non-negotiables. I’ve heard of people here though who run out to gan for a 5-minute pick up and leave a sleeping baby and the home phone on the line with their cellular. Yikes!

  3. SephardiLady says

    The psychologist is right on the money, IMO. Confidence in parenting is lacking, as is the community where adults are adults and kids are kids and the adults are all on the same page.

  4. mother in israel says

    Ariella, They do make excuses, but what is more basic than physically watching your children?

    Right, like they are going to smell the gas over the cellphone. Sheesh.

    I agree.

  5. threebeans says

    I personally find it totally irresponsible and unacceptable to leave your children alone in the house for more than about 30 seconds. If you have to run to the mailbox or your car in your driveway it’s one thing, but going further than that is just ridiculous. To this end, I have to share with you a story about someone I know of here in New York. This woman told me that she often lit candles on friday night and then, if her baby was sleeping, she would go to the house next door to shmooze with her neighbor. Sometimes she took a monitor there to hear if the baby woke up. It so happens that one Friday night her baby was still awake so she took him along with her. BARUCH HASHEM because 5 minutes after they left, she heard a HUGE pop and explosion coming from her house. She went outside to see her entire home engulfed in flames. The fire was started by the Shabbos candles and their entire house burnt down. I saw for myself the burnt out lot. They lost everything but BH she had her son with her that night. The moral of the story is self-evident. We have to be vigilant when it comes to caring for the precious neshamas that Hashem has entrusted us with.

  6. mother in israel says

    3B: What a story. Fires are too common; my son saw one a gutted house in our town yesterday. In Israel people are less concerned with fire safety; maybe because the houses are made of concrete, not wood. Sounds silly I know.

  7. Well, at least you tried your best.

    Our neighbour does the same thing. They have 4 children and the youngest is only 18 month’s old. We made little comments now and then, when the dad up here and told us he’s just been to the store and left the kids asleep alone in the house. Finally, one afternoon, he came to tell me that he was dropping his wife and one son off at the bus station and really didn’t want to wake the baby, so if he didn’t come back home for a while, I’d at least know the baby was in the house. I said, “Take her with you.” He said, “She’s been so crabby, I don’t want to wake her up.” I said, “Give her to me and I’ll take her with me while I pick up the kids from school.” He said, “But then she’d be awake.” I said, “I’ll keep her after, just don’t leave her. A fire could break out. She could wake up and scream for you the whole time. She could figure out how to get out of her crib and fall down the stairs, drown in the toilet…” He actually said, “Stop! You’re making me feel bad. Those are awful things!” I told him his problem is lack of imagination, to leave his baby like that.

    He took her.

  8. mother in israel says

    I don’t feel like I’ve done my best yet, and am considering different courses of action.

  9. mother in israel says

    N, do you live in Israel?

  10. Nope. I am a Canadian Jew. I’ve visited several times, have a number of friends there and love the place, though.

    The family I told you about are also Jewish, as well as being highly educated and otherwise very loving parents. I have to admit, I was surprised when I found out what they do, because I just assumed child abandonment was something done out of desperation or ignorance, neither of which this family has.

  11. BTW, I have a blog – http://www.justmakingitup.wordpress.com – that I put in the appropriate spot when commenting, but the link isn’t appearing.

  12. mother in israel says

    N: Maybe it only likes Blogger blogs. I like your blog and left a few comments; I plan to add it to my blogroll the next time I update it.