Three / by Susie Lubell

Dear Tiny Tush McFlat Foot,

I'm two months late in writing you for your birthday. Two months ago we were in the midst of moving to our new home and the insanity sort of hasn't let up. But don't worry. On the day of your birthday we were surrounded by friends and family who came to help us bless our new home and I was reminded of when you were born.  On that very day we sold our house in California which opened up the real possibility that we would move to Israel. The day you were born began a new era and so we called you Idan (era in Hebrew) after your great grandmother Edythe. And we gave you a second name, Hillel, after your great grandmother Helen. It was our great wish for you and for the world that your being here would somehow usher in the era of Hillel, the great and wise rabbi who is known for expressing the golden rule or what I call reciprocal kindness: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."

I'm afraid, Babu, we haven't much figured that one out. You see, once we got the house set up and things were starting to settle down for us in our new place, the war started. We're fighting with Hamas. Again. And I haven't felt much like writing. It appears neither side has learned to treat the other as he would want to be treated. It seems so simple really but people feel a lot of hatred in their hearts for all the bad things that have happened to their families over the last hundred years. So we live on an endless loop of he did it / no, he did it and it's mine / no it's mine. Over and over again. It's like when you fight with your brother and sister, only like a zillion times worse. And with bombs. And scary tunnels.

But life continues despite it all. You still spend your days with Yulia, goddess of all caregivers. And you made a best friend this year. Her name is Omer and I hope you stay best friends for a super long time because I like her mom a lot and that's important. This year was a big year for you for so many reasons. You stopped wearing diapers! Kid, I can't thank you enough for that. You started sleeping in your big bed! Now you even have your own room! Although that was sort of short-lived since once the sirens started everyone moved into the secure room. We like to think of it as a summer slumber party.

You've become quite the conversationalist in the last few months, especially for someone who barely spoke until about a year ago. Your speech is often peppered with kaki and poo poo and pee peewhich doesn't much surprise me since my speech is peppered with crap and shit and pissed off. I especially like when you tell a story by saying the same sentence four times in four different intonations. Maybe you should pick up Mandarin, since you already speak Hebrew, English and Russian. (spasibo Yulia). You really are an expert at the art of narrative. And you've been able to express yourself and your concerns clearly during these tough times. Like after we were at the pool with all of our friends and two sirens went off. We ran over to the wall by the bathrooms and layed down flat like we're trained to do. I put my hand over your head and realized your own hands were covering your head. Then you and I talked about the weeeoooweeeooo for a while in various intonations. It's depressing that you're only three and already know how to duck and cover.

We have a cousin serving in Gaza now. He's your third cousin on your Grandpa Stanley's side. I met him when he was about your age when I first came to Israel. He has a twin who is thankfully already out of the army. I remember him as a beautiful, crazy, little boy just like you and now he's a soldier fighting an awful war. A war we could have avoided had the leaders on both sides made better choices over the decades. But now the war seems entirely unavoidable.

I wonder if we'll still be on the loop, fighting the same wars, in fifteen years when it's your turn to wear a uniform.  We're all fairly certain that your brother will be designing Iron Dome 2.0 and safely managing it's operation from behind a computer screen but I'm not sure about you. You were quite dovish in your twos, but now that you're three you've become fairly combatant. Only time will tell. For now I look at your beautiful, healthy little three year old body, so strong and agile and full of life and I thank God everyday that you inherited Grandpa Stanley's flat feet which hopefully disqualifies you from a range of combat positions. It's kind of sick but these are the things I think about.

I hope the big boys out there can end this war soon so no one else has to get hurt. Maybe they need to spend some time at Yulia's to learn about sharing and taking turns and compromise and not hitting or biting and saying nice things. We could probably all use a refresher.

all my love to you sunshine,
Mommy