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Joys & challenges of raising the littlest ones

November 2012 Posts

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Toddlers & Preschoolers
Blog Entry

Booms and Sirens

posted by Devorah Reiss, NJP CommunityTuesday, November 20th 2012 @ 11:55 AM

When I made aliyah six years ago, I knew that I was moving to Israel and taking the good with the bad.  More often than not this means dealing with ridiculous bureaucracy alongside having strangers on the street truly care about your wellbeing, or dealing with assimilating into a new language and culture while at the same time having a million helping hands in the process.

At the back of my mind I knew that this also included war, terrorism, and just generally having the whole world against me and my beautiful homeland.  Unfortunately, I am now getting a taste of what that truly feels like.

I have never, in all my years here, felt in any danger or been afraid for my safety - even when other things were going on, they were always far away from me in different cities or different areas of the country.  Never was anything close to home and never was anything a real danger.

This time, however, is different.  This time rockets from Gaza are reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, well past my little town (okay, small city) of Rechovot.  For the first time ever, my home doesn't feel like a safe haven from the outside world.  For the first time, I am getting a small, teeny tiny inkling of what everyone in the south has been living with for a decade and more.

Our apartment building is one of those old ones, built before the law mandating that each house and apartment have its own protected room came into effect.  This means that we have no protection in our building.  Even the stairwell, generally considered a good second-best option, has windows to the outside that make it pretty iffy as a safe space.

What do you tell your children?  How do you explain to them the strange behaviors of everyone around, the constant fighter planes overhead and the frequent booms?  We have been lucky enough to not actually have any sirens sounded in our neighborhood, but it could just as easily be us.

My child just turned two last month, so she really isn't even picking up on any of this - although she would definitely pick up on the sirens.  I just keep thinking to myself how I can explain it to her in her terms and how I can get her to cooperate in an emergency in order to keep us all safe.  

This is one of the parenting challenges that, thank G-d, I think most people in the world don't really need to worry about.  Most people don't have to be worried about rockets falling from the sky while they walk their children home from school or daycare.  Most parents don't scout out all the buildings on the route between home and school in order to see which ones have unlocked stairwells just in case, G-d forbid, they are caught outside when the siren sounds.

This is my own small test of patience, calmness, faith, and staying strong.  Just like animals, small children can sense fear, stress, and pretty much every emotion that you have.  In theory, if the parent remains calm then the child will, too.

This is also one of the times when I am very, very thankful that my toddler and I still have a breastfeeding relationship.  I know that in a pinch, as long as we're together I have a surefire way of calming her down and giving her a sense of security that the sound of the sirens takes away.

We are lucky enough that my husband will not be called up for service since he wasn't in a combat unit, but so many other friends and family - too many others - have been called in to serve their country and their nation.  All we can do at this point is pray for their safety (and our own), help out the families whose husbands and fathers have been called away, and have enormous amounts of faith and trust in Hashem.

May we all merit safety, a speedy recovery to those injured, and swift justice with regards to those who keep trying to wipe us off the map.

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