On to the next stage of modern teenage development: Looking over your shoulder.

Two days ago was Yom Yerushalayim, or Jerusalem Day – the celebration of the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, where Jews were finally allowed to roam freely in the Old City due to their own sovereignty.

It’s a day I really only tend to think about in the context of traffic to my former Jerusalem jobs. The day has been spoiled for a lot of us by the annual Flag March, a parade throughout the Old City which, on the one hand used to be/could have been a nice tradition, but over many years (honestly, as long as I’ve known it) has had some very very ugly aspects to it by an over zealous minority demographic or two.

This year, it’s different. Because last year was different. Following last year’s attack by Hamas over the same period, the tension was extremely high this week.

It’s also different because my son goes to school in Jerusalem. With that comes exposure to certain political elements, lots of local pride and flair, and… public transportation. I found myself giving him an ultimatum as school let out early: get on a bus and come home immediately or stay over a friend – and get off the street.

It’s really not easy raising issues like this with such a new teen. But why? How bad is it? And the unspoken, should I worry about this? And you know when those eyes are opened, they’re not going to close again, not with all the sponge-soaked curiosity coursing through his veins. After this conversation two days ago about planning how to handle his Jerusalem stay, yesterday he reports to me on a row of unmarked police cars with their sirens blaring (I tell him it’s probably the prime minister’s motorcade) and today, a chefetz chashud he spotted next door (a kid’s backpack, equipped with water bottle and sunscreen, as he reports it – ‘probably a kid just forgot, but you know…’).

The heart breaks, the heart also knows humans are kinda terrible and better to be prepared than naive.

Right?

(Ask a 4th grader in America right now).

But is it quite universal? I suppose when I was that age, I was already obsessively looking over my shoulder for troubling men; something I share in common with basically every other female on the planet. So perhaps my son has it a little easier than his sisters will when they start to understand the daily sort of threats available in our local society.

Not to mention, the internet.

So I conclude – at this juncture, knowledge, awareness, skills > childhood naïveté.

That’s not comforting, either :)

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