When my youngest daughter was in first grade, her teacher decided to organize a class bonfire and kumzitz (sing-a-long) for Lag Ba'Omer.
The previous year, my eldest daughter's fourth grade teacher organized a class bonfire, but it did not seem as if any of the other kids' classes were doing anything this year.
So, a bonfire with the first graders seemed just right. My older kids were not yet in youth group. And the timing was right -- early enough that we could finish before all the mega-bonfires burned down the city.
The next year, for second grade, the kids had the same teacher, who once again organized the bonfire in the same place. My older kids had a good time the year before, so they gladly joined us again.
In third grade, my daughter's new teacher decided to continue with the tradition. That year, we had a joint bonfire with the first graders who now had our kids' old teacher.
The third grade teacher continued to teach the kids' class in fourth grade. In a radical move, the teacher decided to make the bonfire in Hurshat HaYareach (The Moon Park), instead of Gan Sacher. That worked out well for us, since our son was going to do a bonfire with his class that year, and they were also planning to do it in Hurshat HaYareach. While I bounced back and fourth between my two younger kids' bonfires, my eldest was completely on her own.
By that time, my eldest was no longer interested in celebrating Lag Ba'Omer with her family. She was totally into her youth group by that point. Though I did put my foot down when she called me at 2:00 in the morning. "I don't care if everyone else is staying up all night," I called into the phone, "you are coming home"... and she did.
This year, I was talking to my youngest's teacher (she is the same teacher who organized my eldest's class bonfire in fourth grade, and my son's class bonfire last year) and I mentioned this class's longstanding tradition.
It is unclear who exactly put this year's bonfire together, but most of the kids met yet again in the Hurshat HaYareach.
Now, in the past, all the parents, and many younger siblings, participated in the class bonfires. But by fifth grade, neither of my older kids were interested in their parents being at their bonfires. So I was not sure what would be at this year's bonfire.
Once again, my eldest was going off with her youth group. This year, she made it clear that she was planning to stay out all night. I did not like the idea, but consultations with other parents led me to the conclusion that I should let this one pass.
*** Is there anyone out there who insists that their children come home, irregardless of what "everyone else" is doing??***
My son went to a friend's house for a bonfire/bar-b-q with half his class (the other half went to a different friend from the class).
So, I took my youngest, and decided to stay for as long as I felt welcome. At first, it seemed as if only one other kid's parents were planning to be there. But, at the end, there were several parents who stayed. Despite the presence of several parentst, the kids ran the show. They made the fire, prepared the food and even organized activities.
It was a really nice evening. Though not everyone came this year, most of the class did participate. The kids really get along well and work well together as a group.
It was fun hanging out with them.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,