I haven’t much introduced Davidi to you, though I know too soon I will have to. I’ve shown you glimpses of a young man over the years, mostly as the youngest son, mostly as the boy. He’s as different from his brothers as each of them is different from each other. He is, at just under 18, very much a work in progress.
At some point, I thought I would write about him – as I first wrote about Elie 6 years ago. I might still write that post, but for now, I’ll tell you another facet of the boy because for all the fact that he’s the tallest of my sons, there is an equal portion of boy and man in him. He’s right there on that edge…and there I think he’ll remain for some time.
Elie tumbled into manhood, perching there on the edge for what seemed only a fraction of a second. The army was a deciding factor but Elie was pushing himself towards that edge before either he or I knew what it was. I remember him going in to the army as a boy and returning too quickly in the comfortable boots of the man he was becoming.
Shmulik tumbled before I was ready – into manhood and matrimony and grew into what he is, as he has lived most of his life, unpretentiously and quietly. His wasn’t a tumble, but a quiet stroll, so typical of him. He came last week, sorry that he hasn’t been able to stop by more often when I’ve been awake. He made me scrambled eggs for breakfast, cut up some vegetables, and sat on my bed as we ate together.
And Davidi? I don’t know yet how or when, but I know he’ll take that step. I don’t know if it will be a tumble or a glide or, Davidi being different, yet something else. He’s still more boy, and I don’t mind it nearly as much as the others. Elie is waiting on the other side, forever impatient with the boy. He wants Davidi to take more responsibility, step up to the plate, if you will and he doesn’t understand why it doesn’t annoy me more when Davidi forgets to take out the garbage or do what he was asked.
Aliza at 13 remains the tormented younger sister, forever wishing I’d given her three more sisters rather than three brothers. She is firmly, comfortably making her own path and happily a teenager. And Davidi? Despite what Elie sees, more and more, Davidi comes close to that edge, steps up. When Lazer was changing the bandages of my poor shoulder, Davidi stood next to me telling me not to look, holding my hand, and handing his father smaller bandages to replaces the massive one Lazer was removing.
He’s helped me remove and replace the immobilizer thing I have on my shoulder and tried to balance precariously on that ledge. He doesn’t actually even realize there is a ledge; that there is a moment you are a boy and then a moment you are not.
Last night, after overdoing it yet again, I went to bed hoping painkillers and rest would outshine my need to push myself to the edge and beyond. I can hear Amira saying, “and how’d that work for you?” …but never mind…back to my point.
So, Davidi came into my room with my laptop computer showing an image I have loved for many years, “What happened to my blue eyes?”
He had taken a digital picture of a printed and framed picture in the living room, and set it to be the new background image on my computer.
I laughed. Elie and Davidi were born with the bluest eyes imaginable. In both cases, they have changed, faded a bit to something closer to gray.
This picture was taken when Davidi was a few months old and as soon as it was printed, I thought – wow, look at the eyes on those boys.
My blue-eyed babies, born into a family that by all statistics should have been only brown. There is so much I could write about Davidi – there is a depth to him that few see.
I’m not in a hurry to talk too much about him yet; I’m keeping him to myself a bit longer. Oh, the day will come when Israel will take him; when I’ll bring him here so you’ll experience again what it is like from a mother’s perspective. He’ll become that soldier he is destined to be, wear that uniform. But not yet, not now.
For now, I’ll enjoy these months when he is still mine; this time when he can hover on the edge but still be the boy. It will come too soon, that I know. It is always too soon.
For now, his biggest issue is balancing school, his desire to volunteer for the ambulance squad, and his commitment to volunteer in a local youth group as a counselor. I wish he’d pay more attention to school; I wish he’d clean his room. He wants to hang out with his friends and is torn because he knows that I need his help now.
I don’t wish that he stays on the cliff between manhood and boyhood forever – I understand enough to know it isn’t the most comfortable of places to be. There is a struggle, with each side pulling. I know that; I see it even now.
But as he is my third son traveling this road, I know that he’ll eventually complete the journey and I accept, as I couldn’t with Elie. I’ll stop looking for the boy eventually and accept that he’ll still show me glimpses long after the boy goes deeper inside the man.
I’ll smile when they look at engine’s together; when they laugh and wrestle a bit. I’ll rejoice in the times when the boy comes out, knowing each time that it could be weeks, even months until I see him again. For now, I don’t miss the boy in Davidi because he’s there, just under the surface, and sometimes, still in control. I love that boy…those boys.
Long after Elie and Shmulik had stopped coming to me for hugs, Davidi would still come over. Now, I have to go over and kiss Elie or Shmulik…and I still do – I think I always will. I can still call Davidi to me and demand that kiss before he leaves for school and he won’t make a face or smirk.
He doesn’t know yet that he doesn’t have to give it; that a mother can ask, but not expect. So I’ll take these hugs and kisses, the comments that a man would probably not ask.
Where are his blue eyes? They are still blue, but they’ve grown older, seen more. He has helped save lives. All of 17 years old, he knows that in another year and a bit, he’ll join his brothers in serving this country. He’s strong, he’s tall. He’s proud and if I think too long about his being a soldier, I’ll probably start to cry.
I’ll have to call him David, as the others do but for now, I’ll hold on to Davidi – the little boy’s name and cherish the fact that he made my laptop’s background a picture of himself as a baby…blue eyes and all.
Visit A Soldier’s Mother.Paula Stern
About the Author: Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write.The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.
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