The counting game
6:14pm. The shelling has been ongoing for some time, then it suddenly occurred to me to begin to keep track, for no particular reason other than to actualize these episodes for myself. 6:18pm. 13 shells. I lost count after that. but what I did remember about this particular bout was that Yousuf, for the first time, told me that he's "afraid".
Usually he'll just say "yamma" in a rather animated way that children do, (it means "oh mommy!"). But today, he associated fear with the earth-pounding noise-which he thought was coming from the kitchen because that's where he was when he heard it ("khayif..hinak!", "afraid..over there!"). You can't explain such an incomprehensible existence to a 2 year old. You just try and normalize his reality. That's why I love the film "Life is Beautiful" so much.
He'll only get as scared as you do, sometimes. And sometimes no amount of re-assurance can convince him that this loud and recurrent thud he hears every day is innocuous (so far). One Israeli friend who emailed to check on us even suggested I make a counting game out of it-how many shells can we count today? (not a suggestion I'm likely to adopt anytime soon). I sometimes think of Rafah's children, and how their lives must have been during those night under constant Israeli seige; how their lives will continue now; whether they can continue with any certainy at all. Being a mother puts a whole new spin on it.