Monday, December 17, 2012

Talking and listening

I'm not against talking to my kids about the tragedy that happened in Connecticut on Friday. I want to let them know I'm there for them and want to reassure them that they are safe and want to answer questions they may have. They are of varying ages and the conversations need to be very different. I've talked about it with two of them so far.

We don't really watch the news in our house, but kids hear things. They see the newspaper sitting out on our dining room table. Other kids will share details. They might hear something being said on the radio or overhear a conversation between adults. We all know that if you ask them to take out the garbage, they can't seem to hear you, but when you whisper something that you don't want them to hear, they seem to have supersonic audio skills. We have no way of controlling every bit of the content that goes into their ears.

My oldest son just graduated from high school and he watched some of the initial footage on television with me. Really, there wasn't a long intense conversation. We were both stunned.

I think sometimes in sitting them down and giving kids the feeling that there has to be a big serious conversation about something puts more fear into them. I'm thinking casual conversation is more the way to go. Every family is different and will handle it in their own way. I'm still trying to figure out what the best thing is to do here. And have I already waited too long?

I said to my 11-year-old today, "Did you hear about what happened it Connecticut on Friday?" "Yes," he answered. "How did you find out?" I asked. "When we watched wrestling last night there was a tribute to them," he said. I felt some relief that he learned of it by seeing a televised tribute to the victims rather than a dramatic news account with disturbing images and 9-1-1 calls playing in the background. He saw the good part that comes out of it, like you can even link the word "good" to anything about the tragedy. But what he saw was people coming together in remembrance. I'm glad that's what he saw. "What kind of idiot would go and do that and shoot people in a school?" he asked. I don't really have an answer to tell him. I have to be honest and say that I don't know and that there are a very small number of people in the world who do bad things that we just can't explain. I feel like I should have a better answer, but I leave it at that. I ask him if that's why his stomach isn't feeling well today. He says that's not why. I wonder.

There are more conversations to come with the other children, but the one I just can't imagine having is with my youngest one, my 7-year-old. Several of the kids who died were his age. It just makes so little sense. And nothing I can say to him is going to make any more sense of it.

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