Although we are not in an actual war zone, our children are very much affected by what's currently happening in our country.
We do not watch any news on TV in their presence. We hardly listen to the radio while they are around. But they do hear and see and imagine things. And with a house full of "refugees" they are confronted with other aspects of war- like what it means to leave ones home.
I and my husband need to work, so we do not necessarily have more time for their needs- maybe even less.
I can see the change in their play. The water"guns" (do not look at all like guns… maybe water-pumps is more accurate) turn into rocket-shooting things. Simple wooden blocks in the daycare turn into a defense system against the rockets.
They ask questions about the "iron dome" (Helen calls it the "golden dome") and how this defense system works. Helen was very sad/ disturbed because one of the families had to leave their dog behind- but the father of the family will bring the dog today after he will finish his turn on tending the cows there. That calmed her a bit.
Neomi is asking who is trying to kill us and shooting rockets at us. We explain her that the rockets are shot from Gaza by a group called Hamas. We explain her that not all people in Gaza want to kill us- and yes- our army is dropping rockets in Gaza that are causing a lot of dead people and destroyed houses- and yes- we would like to have peace too…
It's no easy task to explain those things to kids. We try not to go into too much detail and too many explanations. We try to figure out what they know and try to put things into an order. We try to give them a sense of security. "The soldiers are protecting us". I think it's important to keep things fairly simple. Otherwise it can lead to more insecurity.
More than ever I see how important it is to have a fixed daily routine. It helps the kids to feel safe and gives them a sense of stability. That has been missing a bit during the last week with the arrival of the families from the South. Instead of coming home to a quiet surrounding after daycare- there are suddenly many more kids running around. Instead of doing something with the kids (go to the swimming pool, craft, read stories etc) or instead of them playing something for themselves, we got sucked up into quite chaotic afternoons and dinners and the kids went to bed way later than usually. Yesterday it just got too much. Helen started to cry hysterically because of something small and could not stop- she even started to be very aggressive until I had time to sit quietly with her on her bed, hug her tightly and talk to her. Neomi started to be very rude with me and I just felt completely drained out. We took the kids to the grandparents for dinner and managed to get them to bed a tiny bit earlier.
I need to focus much more on the kids needs and feelings in the next days.
So what, if the apartment is messier than ever and dinner is a fast thrown together meal. I also hope that the families in our house will settle into a routine. Almost all kids started to be integrated into the Kibbutz day cares in order to give them some stability back and be in contact with other kids their age. Of course we hope that they can soon return to their homes.
That was a long post....