Every once in a while, something happens that makes you wonder what you did to get it right as a parent?
My son gave me one of those "somethings" today. Part of his schooling at his special ed high school involves some degree of vocational training. Some of this is extremely basic and is designed less as vocational training than training on how-to-follow-directions-without-debating-them, how-not-to-negotiate-the-task, and showing up on time and cleaning up after one's self.
However, one of his friends is working across town doing something more interesting, so Josh and another friend asked if they could check it out. They went with their teacher and looked at this program, and my son is enthusiastically endorsing it as an alternative to the basic vocational training.
He is a volunteer. Two days a week. Working with the elderly poor of Jerusalem.
He ASKED to do this. C'mon, this is a teenager....hanging out with friends, talking on the cellphone, going to the Mall, playing computer games and similar self-absorbed activities are the hallmarks of adolescence these days. I'm sure the fact that his friend is there is an element, but he called me from the bus and told me that he liked the work and it made him feel as if he was doing something special. He didn't use the word mitzvah but he clearly "got" that helping elderly, poor people was a much better use of his time than what he was doing before.
I'm very, very proud of him. Proud that he hasn't taken the easy way out, proud that he hasn't turned his back on a segment of the population that is often ignored, proud that he is willing to travel across town to help people, proud that he saw a need and feels he can fill it, and in filling it return something to his community by caring for some of the more frail and helpless members of it.
I'm also worried sick that he's taking the bus, but I'm just going to have to put that in G-d's hands and pray....
There is a symmetry here that I like also....one of the career things his mother is proudest of is starting an Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Prosecution Unit that really kicked some criminal butt. Now my kid is looking out for them, albeit in a different way.
Way to go, Josh!