No matter how upset you may be, try making progress through love and communication rather than showing anger. It just might work!
We live in a religious community with mostly wonderful people who do tremendous chesed (good deeds) and are constantly striving to improve their relationship with God and with their fellow human beings.
There are many lovely parks for small children to play in and some fantastic pre-schools.
But our community is very much lacking activities for our tweens and teens. We don’t have anywhere for them to gather in healthy and positive ways, such as a clubhouse, a pool hall, basketball courts, a soccer field, a swimming pool or a skating park.
Bored Teens Need Healthy Outlets
Unfortunately, bored teens with no healthy outlets turn to all kinds of problematic behaviors, such as drinking, smoking, using drugs and vandalism.
About a month ago, my 22-month-old baby fell on his hand at a park down the street from our home and got a cut that was bleeding profusely. I was sure a piece of glass went in. There happened to be a Hatzalah ambulance right nearby, so I ran over with my crying baby…The guy washed his wound, bandaged him up and told me to go to my doctor. My doctor wasn’t working that day. The doctor I took him to washed the hand, glued it and wrapped it up. I told her I was sure there was something in there and she adamantly disagreed. She said it looked worse than it was. That night ( the eve of the holiday of Shavuot), the little guy pulled off the glue and the bandage. The wound got totally infected even though I used antibiotic cream and bandages twice a day.
A few days later, his doctor prescribed oral antibiotics. After a week of antibiotics, I brought him back to his doctor who said “you’re probably right…go to emergency”. They did an x-ray and I, a complete layman, saw that something was obviously there. They applied local anesthetic and couldn’t get it out because it was too deep, so he was admitted for surgery. They told me it would last at the most an hour. It was 12:45 a.m. I was the only one in the waiting room, with pitch-black hallways surrounding me and not a soul in sight. My heart was palpitating like it never had before. At 3:20 a.m. (almost 3 hours later), the surgeon came out with a little jar and the piece of glass (the size of my pinky nail). Apparently, the glass had punctured an artery and two nerves, so they had to do surgery to boot and then he had to be on IV blood thinners for five full days.
My heart aches for my brave little soldier who sat with a shard of glass in his hand for two-and-a-half weeks and barely complained. My emotions range from rage at the first doctor – for undermining my very strong motherly instincts that something was in his little hand – to our bored teens who hang out in the parks drinking beer and vodka. Out of sheer boredom and thoughtlessness, these wayward youth go on to smash their empty bottles on the ground where little children play. And then my rage focuses on the lack of facilities to address this problem.
Speak Up when Necessary
I have lived here for almost six years and have accepted all these things like most other residents do, but no more! It’s important to speak up. No more complacency.
The other night, heading home from the supermarket, I saw a large group of boisterous teens, smoking and hanging out on the stairs by a park near my home. I walked past them and then decided: Nope, God is giving me an opportunity and I’m not going to miss it.
I approached the boys and wished them a good evening with a big smile on my face. I then proceeded to ask them if they ever indulge in a nice, cold beer or a refreshing bottle of vodka in the parks. They rolled their eyeballs at me. and one of them said, “No, we don’t drink at all, it’s so bad for us.” He laughed and rolled his eyes again. I didn’t let that stop me.
I asked: “Do you ever see anyone else drink and then break the bottle?”
“Yeah”, said the ringleader. “But I never do that.” His tone became softer.
I continued: “The reason I’m asking is because my baby fell on a piece of broken glass at the park and had to have major surgery.”
He became white as a ghost. I said, “You boys look like good boys,” although they totally looked and acted the part of beer-bottle-smashing-teens.
“I’m sure you guys are also smart and would know not to throw bottles on the ground, especially in a park where children play. But I’m asking you to help me out here. If you see anyone doing that, please remember my baby and tell his story.”
The ringleader was silent and looked distraught.
If I positively affected even one of those 15 teens to do the right thing next time, that’s a great start.
Cigal Gabay made Aliyah from Vancouver almost 10 years ago as a single woman. She is a child and family therapist, a wife and a mother of three small children, committed to living a life of truth, love and passion for the loves of her life: her family and her beloved country, Israel.