One of my girls was released from Juvenile detention and put in a placement home, but it didn’t work out.
She then went to her Mom’s. That was even worse.
Now, she goes from here to there, spending a night in one place and the next night in another place.
One evening we had a gathering of our re-entry program, “Out and Up.” A group of us went to see a play together.
After the show we went out to eat.
It was late, and this girl said she needed to arrange a different place to stay. The girl whose house she stayed at last night is pregnant and she goes to sleep early.
“Don’t worry,” she tells me.
She makes a few phone calls and arranges somewhere else to stay.
“Are you sure it’s ok?” I ask.
“Yup,” she shrugs eating the pancakes we got at IHOP.
“Isn’t it hard sleeping somewhere else every night?” I ask.
I am saddened.
I tell her we need to find her a place, a place to go to every night, a place of her own.
“You will not be able to move forward if you don’t have a constant place to put your head.”
“I’ve never really had a home,” she said.
This girl has been in and out of foster homes since she was 4 years old, in and out of incarceration since she was 14.
I just spent three weeks in my home.
The place I love.
This trip was the hardest ever.
Everyday I woke up with a broken heart, so happy to be home; so sad I live so far away.
Israel is where my family is, where I have close, close friends. Where my heart is happy.
When the girls I work with in Juvie are released, they are sent somewhere the court sees fit.
What the girls think is “fit” and what they want, desire, is very different from what the court thinks.
To be honest, many times what these girls want is totally detached form reality, an illusion of something that doesn’t exist.
So, they end up very quickly being kicked out, leaving, sometimes running away, left to drift in any direction the wind blows.
They have no strings attached to anything.
They meet someone; they then crash at this stranger’s place, in their car, in their garage, or on the floor.
There are no memories, no roots.
When I looked out the window as I drove through Israel, I felt my roots pulling me in all directions.
I have so many deep meaningful memories.
Some silly memories, yet some are so important.
The street I had my first kiss.
The restaurant where he left me.
The corner she picked me up after he left me.
My first job.
The stage where I got a standing ovation.
I have a deep connection to this land.
A connection from trips I took in the youth movement.
Hours and kilometers I walked when I served in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), a place where sadly I lost too many friends to the long bitter fight over the land.
“Do you know where you are going?” I asked her.
“Yup. I kick it there a lot,” she answers.
(Kicking it means hanging out.)
Her “kicking it” from place to place with her homies - is far from creating roots. It is actually what usually gets her in trouble.
A home should be your anchor.
This one is in desperate need of an anchor.
“You need a regular place to stay,” I say again.
“Yeah,” she said. “That would be nice!”
“Sweetheart, it’s so much more than nice.”
I look at her, no bag, and no purse.
She holds her phone in her hand. I am suddenly worried about ridiculous details. How will she brush her teeth? Will she take a shower? Are the sheets clean?
OMG! Could I be more of a Jewish mother?
I am curious where her clothes are.
I think she might sense my thoughts.
“It’s okay,” she smiles. “It’s safe. This friend has got my back.”
“You must stay out of trouble!” I tell her.
She just turned 18 and from here on it’s real jail and no more Juvie.
“I know,” she says.
We wrap up the leftovers.
She takes everyone’s leftovers.
She looks at me.
“Where are your kids now? Where did they go?” She asked because they had been with us at the show.
“They went home. They are sleeping.” I said.
“It’s late,” I add.
“When do they usually go to sleep?” she asks.
“Between 8:30 and 9:30” I tell her.
“That’s early,” she says.
“Not really,” I say.
“It’s nice to have bed time.”
I laugh, “My kids would disagree.”
When the plane takes off in Tel Aviv to leave for LA my heart is pulled so hard, I can’t hold back the tears.
I cry, a little, then sobbing.
My youngest who is sitting next to me, kisses me, tells me she loves me, and then adds:
“I know Israel is your history Mommy, but just think, now, you are making new history.”
She turns and whispers to my other kids that I am crying and they wrap me with love.
Ahhh, my children too, have become my roots.
They keep me grounded. And we all laugh at something silly.
Amazing how my daughters who are pre-teen girls have the capacity to be so sweet just at the right time.
I look across the table at this young woman, so lost, not a single root to keep her steady.
“We need to make you a new history,” I tell her.
Without missing a beat she says, “That is good, ‘cause the one I have sucks!
In the new one, I am going to have a bed time.”
Oh how my children would howl if they heard this.
I smile, and send her in an Uber to an unknown place, a place I pray is good, clean and safe.
“Text me when you get there” I yell out to her.
“Why?” she shouts back, confused.
“’Cause we are making you a new history,” I say.
She blows me a kiss and is off.
25 minuets later I am home. I check in and kiss my sleeping girls.
I get a text.
“I’m here. History in the making, Ms.”
I smile to myself, and can’t resist texting back.
“Do you have a toothbrush?”
“I used my finger,” she texts back.
I text her back a ‘thumbs up,’ and go to sleep hopeful.
So, as 2017 unfolds, let us all find some hope in the simple things.