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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Morning Surprises

The morning routine in our house is a fairly predictable thing.  I wake up... get the coffee going... set out food and drink on the breakfast table... and then I call up from the bottom of the stairs for the kids to wake up and start the day.

Yonah - our youngest - is usually downstairs before I've gotten through yelling the short list of names (if he isn't already downstairs of his own volition). 

Gilad - our middle child - is a bit of a slug in the morning but has mastered the fine art of responding perfectly to repeated calls for his presence at the breakfast table, without ever coming fully awake.

Ariella - our oldest - is almost as sloth-like as Gilad in the morning, but she hasn't been able to master her brother's trick of remaining asleep while answering that she's awake.  Being the only girl on the kid's floor she often closes her bedroom door for privacy, which further frustrates attempts to wake her up from the main floor below.

This morning started like most others.  I finished brewing the coffee and was just beginning to call up to the kids when Yonah came hopping down the stairs in his rumpled pajamas, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. 

Gilad responded to his name with clear-voiced "I'm up!"... giving me every reason to believe just the opposite. 

Ariella didn't answer.  No surprise there.

After giving Yonah his good-morning hugs and kisses and getting him settled at the table, I went back to the bottom of the stairs and called up to Ari and Gili again.  Gilad repeated his standard "I'm up", which wasn't all that convincing given that it was slightly muffled by his pillow. 

And still Ariella remained unheard-from.

The next step is usually for me to actually go upstairs shouting "OK, I'm coming up there... you'd both better be out of bed!".  Gilad managed to be standing on wobbly legs next to his bed by the time I entered his room (this is another of his patented tricks and will certainly serve him well during his army service).   

However, I was surprised to see Ariella's door standing open with no sound coming from inside.  She's a sound sleeper, but she's never slept through two wake-up calls and my announcement that I was coming upstairs!

I walked into Ariella's room and my world suddenly tilted on its axis.  I was shocked to see that her bed hadn't been slept in, and she was nowhere to be found! I looked from her bed to her desk to her overflowing hamper in dumb expectation of answers... but my mind refused to work. 

As the panic began to rise in my throat I turned to ask Gilad if he'd seen his sister.  But before the words could leave my mouth I suddenly remembered.   

Zahava and I had given Ariella permission to take a 'mental health day' from school, and she had slept over at my parents apartment in Jerusalem last night (Gilad took a similar 'mental health day' last week).  Heck, I'd actually dropped Ariella off there myself... but without having had my smart pill coffee yet, it'd slipped my mind that she wouldn't be in need of a wake up call this morning.

As I stood in Ariella's messy room waiting for my heart-rate to return to normal, I couldn't help but laugh out loud at my silly forgetfulness.  I was a little self-conscious about what Gilad might think at the lunatic laughter coming from Ari's room, but really... how do you forget that your own child isn't at home in her bed?

And then it suddenly hit me that this must be exactly the kind of thing that sneaks up and clobbers unsuspecting parents who have lost children in terror attacks months, or even years, after there is nobody there to wake. 

Only without the laughter, of course. 

Posted by David Bogner on March 9, 2008 | Permalink

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Thought provoking post today. I was chuckling having done the same thing many times myself... right up until the last lines.

Definitely, no laughter, and a smile wiped quickly from my face. I can't wait to get home again to hug and kiss my children.

Posted by: Jethro | Mar 9, 2008 2:16:45 PM

What is even more upsetting is that this is also what happens when you haven't heard about the attack yet, your kid hasn't checked in, and the morning goes from banal to unbearable with one phone call. In the States, we take the silent room for granted. You never can.

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Mar 9, 2008 2:56:10 PM

OMG! Exactly! I woke up on Friday morning and Shabbat morning thinking there are 8 families missing a child this morning. My sister didn't know what to do with me. But how could I go on living my own life so casually knowing that not so far away someone was waking up and being struck anew with the reality that their child is gone forever?!

Posted by: tmeishar | Mar 9, 2008 5:02:35 PM

Jethro... Mission accomplished. The smile fell off my face just as fast when I made the connection.

jordan Hirsch... Parents everywhere go through this endless state of vulnerability form birth until... well, until they die. I don't know any parent who has ever fully stopped worrying about the safety and welfare of their children. Here it may be security concerns. There it might be [G-d forbid] an abduction/kidnapping or getting hit by a car.

tmeishar... I figured I couldn't be the only one who had this thought.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 10, 2008 12:04:06 PM

And then it suddenly hit me that this must be exactly the kind of thing that sneaks up and clobbers unsuspecting parents who have lost children in terror attacks months, or even years, after there is nobody there to wake.

OMG...I'm not even a parent but I'm speechless...

You have an amazing way of getting the point across. Thanks.

Posted by: SaraK | Mar 10, 2008 4:06:48 PM

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