More Mundane Details of War

17 Jul

After 10 days of war, I don’t have any new insights to share.

Things have been quiet for the most part here, thankfully. We are eternally grateful for the safe room and iron dome. Yet, the kids have meltdowns because of anxiety they inevitably usurp from us and everyone around them.

Despite the occasional fit, my 5-year-old says he likes the sirens. Before he went to bed one night, he said, “maybe there’ll be a little siren.” It was a variation on “I want just a little chocolate”, or “I want to stay in the park a little longer”, when this savvy negotiator bargains for something he can’t have.

Why? During one of the sirens, when he was dragged out of bed, not yet asleep, we found his favourite cartoon for the first time in English, “the Octonauts”, including lots of new episodes. We could stop watching the same four short ones in Hebrew, joy! I congratulated myself on my sharp maternal instincts: what else can one do with two sleepy kids in a safe room? Sometimes we skype with Bubby in Montreal. This has a dual function: it occupies the kids and calms my mother because she can see that we are safe.

Our safe room, ready for action

Our safe room, ready for action

Our 22-month-old didn’t fare as well. He didn’t fall back asleep after the sirens and the intensity of his vociferous toddler tantrums has amplified exponentially since then.

So, I try to stay calm and cling to routine. Only when they’re asleep, I watch the constant Israeli news reports, which are informative but skewed and depressing. It’s addictive. It’s hard to turn off. Then, there’s Facebook and the endless debates among who’s right and who’s wrong and who’s moral and who’s not – as if this war didn’t have two sides trying to kill each other, too blind and weak to find a better solution.

We have not experienced the intensive barrage of rocket fire that residents of the South and now also Tel Aviv have been enduring. Still, I plan every outing meticulously, determining in advance where to hide if there’s  a siren. Our pool has two safe areas, and miraculously, while other public events have been cancelled, this week my kids enjoyed an outdoor performance there of the Jungle Book.

Our regular hangout is the park next door because I estimate I can grab the little one and his bimba and run with the older one to the bottom of our building’s staircase (i.e. safe space) in 90 seconds.  The older knows he can’t bring his bike these days because I’m alone and that would upset the balance of carrying and running.

A surreal moment to conclude: It’s Saturday night and I’m hanging laundry on our balcony overlooking Israel’s southwest. The TV news inside tells us that Hamas is threatening to launch a massive attack on Tel Aviv right then. Aharon has been away on a dig for the past month, so when he joins me outside it could have been the most romantic moment we’ve had in a long time.

“Look!”

“What?”

“It’s the iron dome!”

And there it was. A thin light rising into the sky, a small splat of light and some booms. Two over Tel Aviv and one over Ashdod.

Aharon cheers as if we were watching the World Cup game about to start. The news tells us what we already knew: Interceptions over Gush Dan and Ashdod.

Then there was a siren, and we rushed two sleeping kids into our safe room.

Hamas must have been listening to Elton John.

 

Now, I’ll sign off to take advantage of the humanitarian ceasefire to buy groceries.

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