On the way to school this morning, the news reported on the latest Texas inmate to be executed. Thor listened along and then asked, “Would anyone do that to kids?” I asked what he meant, wondering if he was asking if children could face the death penalty, and he said, “Would anyone shoot kids?”
Whenever there is a disaster or tragedy, there are news shows with tips on how to explain things to your kids. What should you tell your child about Columbine? What should you tell your child about Katrina? What should you tell your child about Iraq? What should you tell your child about Norway? I tell mine the truth, and then I tell him my disaster prevention and disaster recovery plans.
I don’t shield Thor from the truth about the world at large, obviously he listens to and watches the news with me, so he is exposed to what is happening locally and nationally. What I try to do is break it down so that it isn’t horrifying. There are days when just dropping him off at school is enough to send me into a tailspin of worry, and I am a fairly reasonable adult. He is six and is still afraid of mirrors at night. I don’t want the world to be a walking slasher flick for him
This morning, I turned the radio down and said, “There are some bad people in the world who would hurt children. Yes. That is why Daddy and I–” and here I listed the precautions we take with Thor, reinforced why he doesn’t play outside when I can’t see him, why his school teaches Stranger Danger, and why his pediatrician reminds him that it is only okay for her to be examining his private areas because she is the doctor and I am in the room with them. For his own safety he needs to know that there are bad people out there, but for his own peace of mind he needs to know that we are proactive to keep him as safe from harm as possible, and he needs to know that he has autonomy of his own to object, run, scream, and tell what he might have seen or experienced.
There is a lot of meanness in the world. It is inevitable that Thor will encounter some level of it. My hope is that his personal experience runs only to the garden variety meanness of junior high.