Growing up in a country that has been in a political instability for a long time, children get inevitably forced to experience chaos and traumas that are outside of their parents’ control. Among the incidents that I remember when the tension in the country started to grow very bad and there were various crimes going on around the country, is the first time I heard a grenade go off up close and personal.
We were sleeping at night and from what I learned later some shootings had been going on for a while when I was woken up by a grenade that landed in our compound in the backyard just a few feet away from our house, the noise woke me up to realize that I had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the hallway that led to my bedroom. Unbeknownst to me, while sleeping earlier that night, my parents had moved us away from the windows and door the moment they heard chaos in the street and noises from neighbors screaming and crying for help. I remember hearing what sounded like a brief hailstorm as all the windows and door glasses shattered on the concrete cement floor of our house. That is the first time that I can truly say that I was frightened to the core. What I will never forget from the incident, however, is how my father was still containing his fear in front of us; he immediately stood up right there in the middle of the hallway, heading to the rooms, he crawled on the floor of the room and grabbed a mattress from the next bedroom which he then put it on top of us a little like a blanket. I remember looking at him in awe as he maintained his calm through the whole craziness. I can truly say that that vision of him was and is still today one of my “dad is a superman” moments for me. He then whispered to us that this is a fortress, that through the mattress nothing can get to us. That little gesture reassured my small mind and for a long time I thought the mattress can protect you from bullets and grenades. This sounds like a funny thing to say right now but at that time, I needed a fortress, a safety net and my father gave me one. This was a very well silly and unpractical solution given the situation perhaps but it was enough to make me feel safe and secure in the midst of the chaos that was going on in a world around me that he could not control.
The reason am telling this part of my story is because I am a strong believer that parents have the opportunity to create a sense of security for their children at home no matter what the outside world is going through. It is true that children will encounter things beyond the parents control at school, from friends and unsolicited advisers but making sure to create “a fortress” at home will always make them feel untouchable. That moment in my childhood gave me an assurance that I needed to cope with what my surrounding was throwing at me, that nothing going on outside will compare to the “fortress” that my father can create in the middle of the hallway of our house. Every time I will hear of something bad coming or happening from my friends at school or even by eavesdropping the radio (another thing that my parents didn’t let me get my information from), I would quickly remember “my refuge” and it helped me maintain a little bit of normalcy in my childhood amidst what seemed to be a boiling pot outside.
Now that I am a parent myself I know that no matter what the world around me is going through, my child will always find strength in knowing that I will do anything to create a fortress at home, I always remember that however I handle what is happening, I have a responsibility to act as a filter from the world around her. She watches how I react to any event no matter how small or big it is and that will mold her opinion, reaction and view of the world around her.