The Israel-Hamas war is thousands of miles from my daughter—and on her phone. I can’t keep her from the world’s sorrows.
As we drive to school, the first streaks of pink and orange spill across the horizon. Cars change lanes beside me, and in this madly spinning world—everyone and everything moving—the expansive sky looks still. I turn the radio down and catch my 12-year-old daughter’s eyes in the rearview mirror.
We’re on the way to her middle school, and she’s sitting in the back seat, blissfully unaware of the fresh grief unfurling in the Holy Land on this October morning. It occurs to me that there are only a few letters separating ignorance from innocence. Wanting both to last a little longer, I let the space between my words stretch out. “There’s something I need to tell you.”
I am in a brutal bind. Tell her too little, and she’ll be caught off guard when—not if—she hears of the Israel-Hamas war from some source other than me. Tell her too much, and I needlessly rush her toward the end of childhood.
I fumble forward, words spilling out of my mouth despite my reticence. I tell her about the attacks in Israel this month and the rumors swirling as Israeli troops prepare their response. But I don’t tell her about the grandmother whose murder was livestreamed or that babies were reportedly burnt and beheaded. I don’t tell her that Hamas uses civilian Palestinians as human shields or that, because the Palestinian population skews young, hundreds of children have already died in Israel’s response, and that more will die even if Israel does its best to abide by the laws of war.
I’m telling her this news, I explain, because I want her to be careful—aware of what might be coming next when someone casually hands over their phone and says, Hey, look at this. …