Parents - Enough of That!

From making do with two annual visits to the school to attend parent-teacher meetings, parents have become the executive committee of the school system, and to a certain extent also the alternate commanders of the IDF.

This was a terrible blow, one of the worst that had landed on our heads in recent times: Israel Railways decided to stop allowing Israel Defense Forces soldiers to travel free on some of the lines, for three hours a week, so as to let civilians travel in an appropriate fashion. The scandal erupted immediately - mayhem! There were headlines in the newspapers, heart-wrenching confessions on the part of women and men soldiers who were forced to travel by bus, a declaration on the part of the chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Shaul Mofaz, who is competing for the the Kadima party chairmanship, that he would stop the defense budget with his own body until this disgrace was ended, and heartbreaking close-up pictures of a soldier buying a train ticket, Heaven forbid! No one protested about the alcohol he had bought for himself the night before.

This public outcry of course did not exclude the soldiers' parents, who were much more furious than their children. Their little Haimkeh would not travel by bus and no court would help. In our day, we used to stand in line for hours trying to hitch a ride, but Haimkeh would not take a bus. Some of the parents even demonstrated at the Tel Aviv Central train station, and one of the mothers shouted: "We will not allow them to banish (! ) our soldiers from the trains. Oh, the trains, once again the trains (and being banished ) as part of the history of the long-suffering People of Israel, and IDF soldiers once again in the role of the victim.

Parents are not what they once used to be. From making do with two annual visits to the school to attend parent-teacher meetings, they have become the executive committee of the school system, and to a certain extent also the alternate commanders of the IDF. As baseless and crazy as it was, the parents' protest was just one more link in the chain - a long and sick chain that begins in the nursery school, and it is doubtful whether it ends in the military service of our babies.

Parents, some of whom have caused the most fateful and irreversible damage to their children, have in the past few years enlisted in a decisive struggle against the authorities, the nursery school teachers, the school teachers, the coaches, the youth movement leaders and army commanders, supposedly on behalf of their children. They will not hold their tongues if the eurythmics teacher seems to them to be insufficiently supple, and will not remain mum in the presence of a school principal who is not acceptable to them. Every parent and every teacher is aware of this: the irate telephone calls in the middle of the night, the complaints, the rebukes.

They organize petitions, appoint teachers and dismiss them, they interfere in the syllabus and the enrichment programs, they threaten the coach of the soccer team who dares not to put their little jewel in the first team, and they also telephone commanders in the IDF to complain. A grotesque pedagogical poem starring dear Mom and Dad.

Even the modest parents' committee of previous times, which would organize an end-of-the-year party, is now known as "the parents' executive," with an activist in due course as an active chairman. In this way, the parents feel that they are carrying out their duty, in this way they cover up their failures and actions at home as well as the guilt feelings that accompany them. Parents who barely devote time to their children, waste their time getting organized futilely, interfering and inciting without any point. Stay at home, dear parents, relax a little bit, spend time with your children instead of with the members of the "parents executive."

Of course, parents' involvement, interest and awareness of what is happening with their children is in itself a praiseworthy phenomenon. But when they breach every boundary, infiltrate areas that are not intended for them and should be left in the hands of the professionals, the situation becomes insufferable. Teachers who are fearful of the parents and act only to placate them are bad teachers. When this also affects the commanders in the army, the picture is even more distorted. A soldier in the IDF, who sometimes has to decide about the fate and lives of people, is supposed to take care of his own rights without the intervention of his parents. Their intervention is required only in the most extreme cases.

On Sunday this week, a noisy tempest raged but the parents did not feel depressed. The fuss, of course, calmed down quite soon, all the soldier-children reached base safely, and thousands of citizens enjoyed a relatively comfortable ride on the train. But before the parents go out on another futile struggle, they must be told: Do your job at home. That will influence the fate of your children to a far greater extent than a train ride. Or, in other words, you "involved" parents are getting on our nerves.