Last night, Yitzchak gave Shlomo a bath, read him a book, and put him into his crib (which, thank G-d, he has not tried climbing out of yet). Then I went in to give Shlomo a hug, and we left him to fall asleep. He didn’t. So I went in again, gave him another hug, and left. He still didn’t fall asleep – he just kept whining. So, I went back in, after about ten minutes. And when I picked Shlomo up to hug him, I noticed that he wasn’t relaxed.
I sang to him for a few minutes, and then it hit me: It wasn’t that Shlomo wanted to play. He was tense; he was stressed out. My little 20-month old was stressed out, because in addition to the fact that he’s getting a lot of teeth right now; in addition to the fact that his mommy hadn’t felt well all day (migraine and just general weakness); in addition to all of this, there was something that he didn’t understand, and that something was scary.
It hit me suddenly, like a ton of bricks. And I didn’t know what to tell him. He wanted to be held, not because his gums were still hurting him after the gel and the painkiller (Acamoli) that we’d given him, but because something scary was happening and he didn’t understand it. But how do you explain war to a toddler?
So, I did the best I could. I told him that there were mean people trying to hurt us, and that the people in charge of the country tell us when it’s not safe (‘dangerous’ is a word that he associates with punishment, so I avoided it). I told him that when they tell us it’s not safe, we go down to the safe place, the bomb shelter, where we went earlier. I told him that Imma (Mommy) and(Daddy) are worried, because we like to worry, and we’re good at it. And since we’re so good at worrying, he doesn’t have to do any worrying himself.
I told him that Abba was worried because we weren’t with him earlier today when we were told it wasn’t safe, and Imma was worried about Abba, because Abba wasn’t at home when I found out that it wasn’t safe. (I avoided using the word “siren” or “that noise”, because I don’t want him to be traumatized when he hears it.)
And I told him that none of this had to do with the pain in his gums, or the fact that I didn’t feel well today. I said that, hopefully, tomorrow morning (i.e., today) he would have lots of new teeth and he would feel all better. (Yeah, right. It doesn’t happen that fast.)
I told him that we were both going to be at home, and that after he went to sleep, we would go to sleep. After a few minutes of these explanations, he started to relax. I kept explaining and comforting him for about half an hour before he was ready to be put back in his crib. Then he went to sleep.
This morning, he woke up at 5:40 am, and Yitzchak decided to go back to sleep, and put Shlomo beside him in bed. And – for the first time in many, many, months, Shlomo did go to sleep beside Yitzchak in bed. (He doesn’t usually, because, you know, big people go to sleep by themselves (so we have told him since day one), and laying down beside someone else is boring (he’s a toddler, people), especially when there are other things you can be doing.)