Tough Questions from Kids Toughing It Out

Michael Lawrence

We have already spent too much time this week sitting on the stairs between the two floors of our home with six kids aged five months to 10 in various states of sleep, panic and confusion.

I’m afraid of a few things — cockroaches and heights — and now, failure. More specifically, it’s the failure to get six sleeping children from three different rooms to that staircase in the 90 seconds it takes for a Gaza missile to reach the Jerusalem area.

We’ve had our eldest daughter join us in bed at 4 a.m. physically trembling with fear. She’s slept in our room for the last three nights. Today our 8-year old son, a soccer genius, found himself alone in the park when the siren ruptured a summer afternoon and after hiding himself away in the nearest bus shelter, turned up at home white as a ghost and traumatized.

On Twitter and Facebook this week, hashtags #ProtectiveEdge, #IsraelUnderFire and #GazaUnderAttack dominate the battle away from the battlefield.

In light of the very surreal (but far too real) events of the last month, I'd love #ThingsRocketKidsSay to do some trending around the social media neighborhoods.

How does one answer those questions that children ask when their worlds turn inside out? How, as a parent, do we answer honestly, responsibly — trying all at once to calm our children, protect them from pain, refresh their sense of personal security, and educate them as committed, responsible Jewish and Zionist citizens of Israel?

Here are a sample of questions that together with those sirens, keep my wife Lisa and me up at night:

Will the missiles ever stop, Abba? - Haleli, 6
The rockets can’t reach us, right, Abba? - Or-Shlomo, 8
If God is really protecting us, why does He let it happen at all? - Gila, 10
I was playing and then there was a very scary noise, so we went to the stairs to be with Ima - Noa, 2, reviewing her previous hour before bedtime
Will Adina our cousin be OK in Yad Binyamin? - Gila, 10
The noise, the noise is so loud. - Elya, 4
Ima, is it good that we're high up in the mountains? - Gila, 10
Will there be more sirens in the night? - Elya, 4

I pray that there will be a day soon that these questions will be part of history, scripted in past tense, and that all children in the region (and for that matter, globally) will be spared exposure to the fears and tears of conflict. God willing, quiet will return to this land and eternal peace for all peoples who seek it.

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