This past week, while the kids were off from school, we decided to take care of some errands in between the various parties and familial obligations. After buying the kids shoes, and before meeting friends, we thought about where to grab a bite to eat, and decided to go to the food court at the nearest mall.
As we were walking in, my ten year old turned to me and asked, "Ima, what is a food court?"
I looked at my kid in amazement; I couldn't believe that he had to ask such a question. It made me stop and think, and I realized that the mall is an almost completely foreign place to him. He's been taken there once or twice to the movies, and here and there to a restaurant, but that's it.
This led me to think about my kids' general experience, and I came to the conclusion that my children are living a small town, 1950's lifestyle - in 2005.
My kids walk to and from school because it is right down the street. They come home to find mom at home. Since we know everyone in our yishuv (village), they ride their bicycles wherever they want, and go to friends freely - I've never had to make a "play date". The library, basketball court, Bnei Akiva clubhouse and grocery store are all within a short walking distance. When they do leave our yishuv, it is usually to go to their grandparents for the weekend. All in all their exposure to the "big city" is negligible - and I wouldn't have it any other way.
My kids' lifestyle is a product, of course, of the choices that we have made as parents. I am a "country mouse" down to my toes - although where we live is probably better described as suburban than country. (My husband takes exception to the "country mouse" image, and has a more pointed description. Native New Yorker that he is, he says that we are raising "a bunch of hicks!").
I infinitely prefer the sound of the wind in the trees and birdsong to the noise of diesel engines and blaring horns. The air is clean, and in the spring the wildflowers are beautiful.
The lure of the city (and the malls) will come soon enough. Right now I am happy that I have to explain such things.