It was my two little sons tonight lying in the thistles and dirt by the side of the road, their father shielding them with his body, while the sirens wailed and a rocket was intercepted overhead, loud booms shattering the night like thunder.
My husband needed to run an errand and even though it was past their bedtimes the boys just couldn't sleep, they were so excited their dad was finally home from work that he reluctantly agreed to take them with him. Just a quick run to a local shopping centre to pick up a few things. The ride in the car was lulling the boys to sleep when the siren caught them on a rural local road driving home from the shops.
We're far enough from Gaza that my husband had a whole 90 seconds to unstrap them from their car seats, grab them from the vehicle, make a dash for the verge overgrown with thistles while carrying half-asleep 2 and 4 year-olds, try to lay them down as safely as possible without the boys hurting themselves on the prickles and lay himself down over them for protection.
This is what my husband recounted to me a few minutes later when my phone call reached him still face down in the brush with our little boys, waiting the recommended 10 minutes after the siren and booms to make sure there was no falling shrapnel. My heart skipped a beat knowing how that could have ended but for the grace of God and Iron Dome.
I was home with my oldest, our resident bookaholic. When the siren went and I started dashing to our shelter I realised that she was still in her bedroom where I'd sent her to change in to her PJs. I yelled my lungs off for her to come, worried that maybe she somehow hadn't noticed the blaring siren.
I am generally very calm in such situations, but for a few seconds I was worried. She is the unflapable child who has read the Home Front Command "What to do in an emergency" booklet from cover to cover multiple times, I know that she better than anyone knows exactly what to do when the alert goes, she's been fantastic at helping to herd the boys into the shelter and drill them in what to do, so where was she?
She finally appeared after what seemed like an age, but was only about a minute, her head in a book, the siren continuing its eerie wail. Sitting in our stiffling windowless shelter I rebuked her, trying to be stern but calm without letting my worry bleed through too much. "You know exactly what to do during a siren, where were you?"
"Oh Ima, I couldn't find a book mark and I was worried I'd lose my place"
Sometimes she is so sensible about these things that I forget that she is still only a little kid. And then she does something like this to remind me.