My youngest daughter, known more for her free spirit than her affinity for cuddles, climbed up into my lap on Wednesday, still noticeably ‘off’ since Tuesday’s late night siren.
“Ima, are there going to be azakot (sirens) tonight? I don’t want them.” Shortly after, I heard a squeaky voiced wooooo wooooo coming from the girls’ room. “Whatcha doin’, booboo?” I asked. “I’m showing my dolls what to do during an azaka.” She was making her lower bunk bed into a play bomb shelter.
My eldest daughter, who often vacillates between being a nearly 8 year old and a 30 year old, seems to be relating to everything about Operation Protective Edge in her typical character. She was one of the “lucky ones” to experience the ever dreaded shower/siren scenario during a July 10th siren. At first she was able to laugh with neighbors about being carried in a towel, dripping wet, into the stairwell. “Hey at least we had enough time to get a towel, otherwise this could have been embarrassing!” As the minutes wore on waiting till the all clear, I saw her composure starting to crack and just held her. Later of course, in the privacy of our home, when reality had time to set in, she broke down.
As someone who already sleeps so little, I have found myself lying awake at night, instead of my typical passing out before hitting the pillow. There in the relative safety of my home in Jerusalem, far from the constant barrage of sirens and rockets the families in the south experiences daily, I sit and I worry.
I worry about the children. I worry about their parents. I worry I’m not doing enough to try and help where I can. I worry about the future of a country I love so. I just worry.
I’m admittedly one of the many people who find themselves functioning better by trying to know as many of the details as possible. Simply the knowing, even if the news is not the greatest, seems to help me. I continuously think of all the children in the south and wonder how they are coping. How is Operation Protective Edge really affecting them? How much do they understand? How are their mommies and daddies coping while trying to help their children cope with all that is going on?
As I was lying awake, I found myself scrolling back to 2012 and found an old message I had sent during the last operation in Gaza.
In November 2012, during Operation Amud Anan, I got “caught” outside, with eldest daughter, during a siren with nowhere to go. After lying on top of her for a while, we finally decided it was safe to get up and hurried on our way.
Later that evening, after noticing her “contemplating face,” I asked her if something was on her mind. My big girl being the precocious child she is, went into rapid fire questions about the matzav (situation), making me realize she understood way more than I had thought. To most of the questions I was able to find some sort of answer. But when she asked, “Why are they shooting at regular people?” I was the one who needed more information to answer her question properly. So, I asked her what she had meant.
“Our chayalim (soldiers) are trying to shoot at where they hold their tilim (rockets) right?” “Right”, I confirmed. “Well, do we shoot at their people?”
I did my best to explain “…only the people trying to shoot at us. Sometimes by accident others get hurt, but the soldiers really try their hardest to aim at the mechablim.” (Sad that my child knew the word terrorist at age 6.)
“So then why are they shooting at us and not at our army? Wouldn’t that make more sense? Not that I want them to hurt the chayalim G-d forbid, but I’m just saying… Wouldn’t that make more sense?”
How was I supposed to explain to a 6 year old the intricacies of Jihad and the goals Hamas holds so dear?
I decided to go with what my child could understand. Right and Wrong. I took a deep breath and started out on my best attempt at an explanation. “You know how Ima and Abba do their best to teach you to do the right thing? Well, the Hamas parents teach their children differently than we teach our children.”
“Ima, I feel sooo bad for them. Ya know, that their Ima and Abba teaches them to hate, instead of to love. Wow, Ima that’s meod chaval (very unfortunate)…for everyone.”
I had completely forgotten about this conversation from nearly two years ago. Suddenly earlier this week, my big one said out of the blue, “Seems like Hamas is still teaching their children the wrong thing.”
Too true, Kiddo. Too true.
“Hey, but don’t worry, Ima. Since all OUR Imas and Abbas keep teaching us the right thing, we’ll be ok.”
Ok, so I won’t stop worrying all together, but maybe, just maybe, I can worry a little bit less.