Thursday, December 14, 2006

An Interesting Meeting

We had an interesting meeting yesterday at MacDonald's. You can say a lot of bad things about that place but IMO it makes for a great place to meet other families with kids - international too. A couple of years ago, standing in the line at the big M, we met a wonderful family from South Korea. We got really close with them, and spend a great 2 weeks getting to know them and travelling across Israel with them.

Anyway, fast forward to yesterday... We finish having our meal, then head over to the indoors play area there, which is really nice, with tunnels and things. I sit there with my husband, and our kids (now aged 3 and almost-5) take their shoes off and get inside, not to be seen again for a while lol. No other kids there at that point, but a few minutes later, a father and his two kids show up. They're Arabs and I notice how his boys are the same age as ours. I asked him, and indeed they were 3 and 5 (and totally sweet too!). So, they get inside and the three of us are sitting there, playing with our cell phones (another international trait, I guess).

A few minutes later, my five years old, Ron, gets out of some tunnel and approaches us. "Mom, can you teach me some English please?". I figure he must have gotten real bored inside, and is looking for some attention.

"English? now? wouldn't it be better for you to play inside now?"

"But, mom, there's a boy inside and he's blocking my tunnel. I tried telling him to move, but he only knows English".

At which all three adults started laughing. You see, he couldn't even tell the difference between Arabic and English. So, the nice dad next to us tried teaching my son how to ask the kid to move, in Arabic. Quite a challenge for my boy, but by then all kids crawled out to see what the fuss was all about lol.

So we kept sitting there, the kids went back inside, and we started talking. It was a fascinating talk and it made me think about how distant we are, and how little we know about each other, when they live only 20 minutes away from where we do. There was a lot of curiosity, on both sides. About the simple things, about who we were and who they are. About what it's like living in an Arab village and a Jewish town. And also just about what it's like raising two boys of these ages.

We tried getting the boys to play together, but his sons don't know Hebrew, and our sons don't know Arabic and while they were smiling and generally friendly, there was no way for them to actually play together, due to language barriers.

Amazing, really. A family, a mirror image of our own family in some ways. The mom joined us later on btw. A mom and a dad and two boys. Eating out at MacDonald's, shopping for clothes for the kids. Living but 20 minutes apart, yes we know so little about each other's respective lives...

One thing that came up and was a prominent subject was the new Arab-Jewish school that is actually located where they live. It's a complicated issue, and one I plan on addressing in a seperate post. We are currently looking into schools, especially ones with kindergartens attached to them and this one is one of the schools are are looking into. Big issue though, lots of implications.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a link to the Arab-Jewish co-education Center.

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