In the last few years, perhaps a bit less, there's been a shift of sorts in the relationship I have with my children - some for the better; some for the worse. Some of it is a natural result of their growing older; some a natural result of others coming into their lives so that in growing closer, my children are redefining the relationship they have with their father and mother.
Some of it is a natural result of living in Israel. I came to Israel 21 years ago...I have lived through the Second Gulf War which brought days of tension but no attack to Israel; then years of horrible and barbaric terror attacks that still cause me to stop and listen when I hear an ambulance siren.
Back then, one ambulance meant a woman giving birth or someone becoming ill. Two meant there had probably been a car accident. Three meant something had exploded somewhere and ambulances were racing to the scene. More than once I heard the sirens and rushed to listen to the news..."come on," I would beg the normal programming, "what is happening?" And then, within seconds, the program would stop and a voice would come on, "we're getting reports of an explosion..." On a bus, in a mall, in a restaurant, on a crowded street.
We lived through the Second Lebanon War - when rockets rained down on the north and we lived through more than a decade of rockets being fired at our southern cities until the Cast Lead "Operation." That one and the next were
even more personal because Elie was there - first in Cast Lead, then in Pillar of Defense four year later. And then, this past summer, there was Operation Protective Edge (and yeah, it's still a dumb name). We came here after the First Intifada, lived through the Second, and have been experiencing the third or the threat of a third for more than a decade.
Some say the Third Intifada only came now, in the last few months. If the First Intifada's weapon was rock attacks, the Second Intifada's weapon was explosives and the Third Intifada offers knives, axes, stones, and vehicles as the weapon of choice.
Years after the Second Intifada, I still listen for ambulance sirens, still wait to see if it is just one...or two...or three or more.
A few days ago, as Aliza and I took the bus home together, we heard an ambulance...and then another. A short while later, as we walked from the bus stop to the house, we heard more.
"I hope it's not a pigua [terror attack]," she said as we started walking up the stairs to our house - sirens in the distance.
In the end, we didn't hear any news of an attack, though there were reports of a bus hit by a firebomb.
But what bothered me, yet again, is the thought that in a normal world, fifteen year old girls don't hear a siren and think of a terrorist attack. I know, I know, we don't exactly live in a normal world. Or rather, normal is defined differently here.
Aliza will fuss over her hair and what she'll wear. She'll borrow clothes and want to come home later than I want her too. She'll complain about helping with dishes or laundry and spend hours on her phone with her friends...and when she hears a siren, she'll listen and wonder.
She's 15 and yet she's been caught outside during a missile attack twice in her life. She's 15 and had two brothers serve in the army. She's 15 and knows her youngest brother, at 19, is in the countdown to the army. She's 15...