Dear those of you, those hundreds, thousands, (millions?) of you, who are writing me articles about how to talk to my children about Boston.
I’m not going to talk to them about Boston.
I’m not going to talk to them about 9/11, or Sandy Hook, or explain to them that there are people in the world who attack and hurt children. I don’t want them to know that people grow up to hate each other because of things they don’t understand. You won’t hear me indulging in their why’s, answering their questions, explaining away the unexplainable.
Call me naive since my children have barely been on our Earth long enough to learn to speak. Tell me I’ll change my mind when my children are older. When they are more aware. Or when they are more exposed. Go ahead. Tell me.
And you know what? You are probably right. You are probably older and wiser and more experienced in our world full of sad, terrible, painful, heartbreaking, unexplainable events that parents, ironically, have to explain. You have probably listened to the questions, explained the unexplainable, soothed the minds of little ones who just cannot understand.
For now, I choose to teach my children about good people. I choose to substitute stories of helpers and healers when we are talking about pain and sorrow. I will attempt to allow my children’s thoughts and hearts to flourish in the knowledge of our human nature to be, quite simply, good.
There’s an episode of Franklin that’s been running loops on Nick Jr. lately. The little green turtle who lives with his animal pals in the woods- know him? Anyway, Franklin gets all excited to play hockey. He puts on his gear. He goes out onto the ice. But then Franklin falls and I guess he scrapes his knee. I’m not entirely sure because I’ve never actually seen the episode, only listened to the audio (worse sometimes, but such is life). The rest of the ENTIRE episode is spent following Franklin’s fear of ever going out onto the ice again.
Throughout this whole audio picture that’s being set up in my mind, all I can think is how stupid. At first it’s a passing thought.
Then Lilly climbs up onto my lap and starts telling me she’s scared to play hockey, now. She’s scared to scrape her knee, now. She’s scared of falling, now.
What, the WHAT?!
Now I am thinking how incredibly stupid.
My fearless three year old, who loves hockey to her core because Daddy loves hockey to his core and she’s gotta be like Daddy, is now scared. She’s been out on the ice with Daddy so many times with never an ounce of fear. He holds her up the entire time, for pete’s sake, so honestly she’s in zero danger of ever falling. Which she knows.
But now, after someone has told her that there is a possibility that she may fall, that she may fall and scrape her knee- now she’s scared.
This fear is not innate. It is not a natural fear. It is unique specifically because it is a suggested transference of a feeling someone or something else introduced to her.
You see, I don’t care if my kids fall down on the ice. I don’t care if they scrape their knees. Hell, I don’t even care if they are scared or even terrified to do either of those things.
I do care if they are scared because someone else told them they should be.
I do care if they hate because someone else told them they should.
The natural essence of who my children are is about to grow and change right before my eyes. It is already growing and changing, every moment, as they are exposed to more and more parts of our beautiful, wonderful, scary, wide, wide world. That essence is about to be molded into something that is less and less natural and more and more learned.
We need to make decisions, not about how to talk to our children about Boston, but how to raise our children to live in a world where we don’t need to have talks with children about Boston- other than to discuss the Red Socks or Quincy Market.
So writers, f you’d like to write me an article about that,
I’m all ears.