In all my discussions of Israel with the kids, I have (conveniently / lazily?) never really mentioned the fact that most of Israel's neighbours want it gone...and, in the right mood, will go to great lengths to ensure that it is (gone). The fact that we've always won (a debatable fact, given the huge chunks missing on political maps of this country) is never going to deter them.
So, given that peace is not here, just a shaky ceasefire, why haven't I warned the kids yet? Don't they have the right to know this about their new home, as much as we grownups do?
The truth, as the older kids know, is that I have not only not told them this; i have deliberately shut down discussions in front of the little kids that were heading in that direction.
But not the older kids; alone with them and no kiddies around, I am and always have been happy to face hard facts. Not when they were little, but for sure now.
Trying to remember what I told them when we came here in 2009, while Gaza was actively tossing bombs on Sderot and the rest of the South (not being up on the right terminology, I will just call blowy-uppy things all bombs, and you, complicitly, will nod and pretend I just said the right word). I'm sure I said something, but I'm not sure what.
Maybe I didn't have to because they already knew from school, but if so, why wouldn't they have expressed any fear or hesitation?
I may have said that the bombs were very far from the part of the country where we'd be staying (true; we were heading for yerushalayim, which was unaffected that year). But the truth is, there is no part of this teeny tiny country that is far enough away from an enemy to be safe.
Case in point, this merkaz klitah where we will sleep ever so cozily tonight (really; no sarcasm, it is wonderful!) was - ahem, worried family members can stop reading now because there's really nothing of consequence to read beyond this point! - bombed in 2006 during the Lebanon war.
But everywhere you go, up here in the north, was bombed in 2006 (apologies if I got the date wrong; there's no wifi in our apartment... But it's still wonderful! ). If it's not in the north, it was bombed some other year. If it's yerushalayim, it was also pounded from within during the intifadas. Okay, and if you head far enough east, some places were torn down by the jewish government, but that's another tragic story of the lengths we'll go to for a peace our "negotiating partners" don't really want.
The point here is, I have told my kids none of this. I don't even think they know that their good friends, who spent 6 months in Yerushalayim last year, spent a small but doubtless scarring part of that time in shelters.
It's a bit like "the talk", finding the right (non-terrifying but realistic) tone, letting them know that they will most likely be safe, but also how to protect themselves, because sometimes it's not safe.
Typing all this out, or rather, tapping it painstakingly on my tiny tablet, has given me some clarity around this discussion, at least. Yes, it must be said, and soon. But just as with "the talk", too much, too soon can dull the impact of the message.
But as new citizens of this teeny tiny fragile country, we will, some horrifying day soon, be issued our first gas masks. And the day before that happens, it will not be too soon to mention what's going on. Whether it's too much, well, it may well be, but it's up to all of us to cope with the sunshine and rain, the dvash and the oketz, of everyday life in eretz Yisrael sheli.
Meanwhile, any hints from parents who have been there, done that... I need your wisdom here. Please leave a quick comment with any tips and suggestions, if you can.