grandchildren

It has always been my feeling, that children come to this world, as if from another world… new souls in little helpless bodies, unable to provide for themselves, full of curiosity; not knowing our language; not knowing our ways. But eager to take part in this world, and to be accepted like everyone else.

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I do not believe that they belong to us. I believe that they are entirely independent creatures; that have just been parceled out to those already living here, for us to help them adjust, and care for them, until they’ll be able to care for themselves. Sometimes, they’re very similar to us… and this is a blessing, because we can imagine ourselves as little children, starting over in life. But this is just imagination… for they are never identical to us.

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And sometimes they are very different from us, and we have to be extremely careful, not to give them advice or guidance that would be right for us, perhaps, but wrong for them. We have to take care, in any case, not to insult them, not to belittle them, not to be insensitive, not to think of them as objects, or toys, or possessions.

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I have friends, who don’t like to hear me say that life is a series of tests. But that’s the way I see it. And I believe, that when raising children, the scores we get are connected to the independence of the children we’ve raised; whether they are self sufficient, whether they are happy in life, whether they’re able to deal with the difficulties and the hard times.

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Of course, it’s not so simple. Because each of us has free choice. We can make mistakes. We can be tempted down a path that is dangerous or destructive. These poor choices, are not the fault of the parent. And some of us, come to this world with disadvantages. One is born a hunchback, and another a cripple. One with a hair-lip, and another with very little intelligence, or blind, or deaf. We are not all born equal. We are all born different. I’ve heard that even exceptional beauty can be a disadvantage, or exceptional talent or strength. And when a parent is given a child that is disadvantaged in some very difficult way, parenting becomes a much harder job. Often, it changes the life of the parent completely.

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Years ago, I was studying the story of the beginning, in the bible. How man was created in the garden of eden, where he was not obligated to do anything but enjoy life. And then he eats the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and is tempted by the snake… and eventually finds himself thrown out of the garden, and having to work to provide for himself, and his woman bears children in pain. It occurred to me that this is a parable on childhood, and the exit from our parents’ home. How wonderful it is to be taken care of and provided for. But we have that innate curiosity. The desire to understand the world around us. And that is the tree of knowledge. Sometimes, our parents try to protect us from some difficult subjects, turning them into pleasant fairy tales… bending the truth a bit.

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And then, as we grow older, passion awakes in us. We have sexual desires. The snake stands up, and tempts the woman… not so much with the pleasure of his company, but with the fruit… the fruit of knowledge, the fruit of her union with her man. But then life moves on to the next phase. No longer children… no longer free to run around naked enjoying all the wonders of the garden of eden. Now we have to work for a living, and suffer the pain of bringing children into this world.

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This week, I spent time with friends, and with children and grandchildren. This holiday lasts a week. And this evening, we will begin the last day of the holiday, which like the first day, is similar to a Sabbath. Not exactly the same, but it is a day given to more spiritual focus. Perhaps one day, I will go into the subtle differences of holiness and holy days… but for now, my blessing to all my readers and friends, may we all find strength and renewal in these spring days, and happiness and productivity.

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32 responses to “grandchildren

  1. And dear Shimon today’s children are not like us in our childhood days… They are much more clever and they start to walk and to talk earlier than us and sometimes I think of this too, as if they come to this world by knowing so many things already… How ready for everything to learn easily…

    It was a wonderful written piece, your grandchildren are so lucky, I hope when they grow up they will read and smile… But you made me smile too especially when you said, ” …as if from another world!”… But these words meet my thoughts too, today’s children different… maybe their DNA improves should be something scientist can say…

    Who can say opposite of this, to be with friends and families and grandchildren is the most beautiful moments in our life… I am glad you had a nice holiday. Once again my wishes for last night of your holiday, Blessing and Happiness for you all, Thank you, love, nia

    • It could be that you’re right, Nia… that the children of today are different. But they are different from one another too. A generation ago, people used to put them in front of a TV, just to quiet them down… and today, they stare at a computer screen a lot. I would like to see children learn about work, and responsibility without too much pressure… and to discover the joy of learning new things. It is easier today than it was hundreds of years ago… but there are other temptations these days, that weren’t available back a while… Here’s hoping for a happier generation. Thank you so much for your comment.

  2. orlando gustilo

    Another year, another Passover… Our children, their new generations of human beings, are a universal topic for meditation. Raising them is a huge responsibility. How much of ourselves should we deliberately impart to these growing consciousnesses? How much of us is already in their genes? For me children and the younger generations present the greatest hope we have for evolution into something better than what so far we’ve made of our species and our world. They present perhaps our greatest danger, too, and our parenting does not appear to be all the influence there is in how children develop as they grow older. It’s the incalculable effect that one child has on our future that make them to me such precious parts of our emerging universe. We do our share as parents and elders but the future is in their hands! May they know what to hold on to and what to release, and know the value that possibilities have for everyone, thus tend their gifts and curses with care and generosity. growing consciousnesses? How much of us is already in their genes? For me children and the younger generations present the greatest hope we have for evolution into something better than what so far we’ve made of our species and our world. They present perhaps our greatest danger, too, and our parenting does not appear to be all the influence there is in how children develop as they grow older. It’s the incalculable effect that one child has on our future that make them to me such precious parts of our emerging universe. We do our share as parents and elders but the future is in their hands! May they know what to hold on to and what to release, and know the value that possibilities have for everyone, thus tend their gifts and curses with care and generosity. Thank you again for your thoughtful writing and images, Shimon.

    • Sometimes one person can change the direction of the world… sometimes a small group. We have seen that in history. But each young person, coming into this world, is a world in himself, or herself. I don’t believe that we can disregard all of the advances of mankind since the beginning of recorded history. It seems there has been a lot more good than bad. But I don’t expect that human nature will change neither in this generation, or the one to come after. Changes come very slowly. Thank you for your comment, Orlando.

  3. orlando gustilo

    I apologize for the unintended duplication. Mea culpa.

  4. Wonderful piece. Very thought-provoking. Raising children was the hardest, most consequential, most rewarding of all the jobs I have ever done–definitely a labor of love. If I knew leaving the Garden of Eden meant having my amazing kids, I would gladly do so. Thanks for a lovely post.

    • Thank you for your kind words and your observation, Naomi. It is a pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to getting to know you better. It is always very good to hear parents speak of the rewards of parenting.

  5. Thank you for your thought provoking words Shimon and for sharing your lovely pictures. I think it is sad that in our society now, so many children come into the world and before they know it, they are in child care somewhere, missing out on the early years with mum.

    • I agree with you Chillbrook. There was a time when the whole community had part in raising children, including grandparents, uncles and aunts and neighbors. And then there was mostly mum. And now, very often, it is all manner of institutions. I think this is one of the foremost problems of modern life. And I do hope that we’ll find some sort of solution before too long.

  6. Your reflections on the first accounts of human experience and those of now show how time does not render things ‘out of date’, or make something ‘ancient history’. We read and re-read because it is telling us who we are, regardless of what we think we’ve become. How precious these photos are.

    • Thank you Lance. These are a few of my grandchildren, and I have become very aware, over the years, that though they (and their cousins) are all my descendents, they are very different, one from the other. It is really an adventure, getting to know individual human beings. And I agree with you about ancient history… I have spent a lot of time studying it, and it has been continuously relevant to what is going on in our world now. Thank you for your comment.

  7. Beautiful grand-children Shimon!

  8. Raising children is a difficult enterprise, yet it is often the source of our greatest joy. Thank you for sharing this reminder to be careful in how we guide them.

    • I agree with you, yearstricken, it can be a great joy… and it seems to me that the more we are at peace within ourselves, the easier it is to deal with the great responsibility. Thank you.

  9. beautiful post Shimon, lots of food for thought. Lovely photos – thank you for sharing a part of your life filled with family and friends. They are beautiful.

  10. I appreciate the way you link one’s growth with the Genesis story – besides, I also appreciated your perspective on the Garden of Eden. Thanks for sharing your grandchildren with us!

  11. I have tears in my eyes as I read this beautiful and deeply profound piece. Somehow you gather together the strands of my many faiths and weave them together so beautifully I am in awe.

    I have never read a more moving exposition of the story of the Garden of Evil.

    Many years ago someone pointed out to me that in Genesis 2 :9 there were two trees in the garden of Evil … the familiar Tree of Knowlege and another, mentioned only briefly … the tree of life. And that Eve desired knowledge …

    That Eve desired knowledge seemed to me a wonderful thing. That she and all women would suffer for it is also beautiful. The vision of a lascivious woman extending a forbidden apple to Adam was suddenly excised. And the tragedy and glory of humankind’s journey through life seemed to shine through Eve’s curiosity.

    Thanks so much for a beautiful reconnection …..

    • Thank you so much, Nikki. There are many commentaries, and many explanation of holy texts, I have often been impressed that two very different points of view were both right. Because in this great big world of ours, there’s room for many different view points. What’s Important, in my eyes, is that we look for the good in life; for that which will illuminate our world. We can be aware of our limitations; and there is an advantage in realizing some of the negative aspects of human nature… but when I try to understand the way the world works, I look for the good.

      In my eyes, Adam and Eve are one. They are human kind. And if one part of us is unkind to another part, it just causes unnecessary pain. In learning to appreciate that we are one, we can discover the most beautiful miracle of our creation.

  12. Great shots – thanks for sharing!

  13. Being a good parent is a big responsibility and never easy. A wish a few people would read this post before having children especially when they are still children themselves.

    • I don’t know how it is nowadays. It might be more difficult than when I was in that stage, but I think that if one has the right attitude, it can be much more pleasure than pain. Thanks for your comment, GB.

  14. Beautiful photos and meaningful, sensitive prose–as always. Thank you Shimon.

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