I don’t have any more answers than any other mom.
My two older children had heard the news by the end of Friday. The swirling, facts-sometimes-not-straight, horrific news about children and teachers slaughtered next to their brightly colored math posters, their bulletin boards of everyone’s birthdays.
We talked about it, a bit. How sad, no one can understand the whys of the situation. But I asked them not to say anything to Bulldog, who’s only eight. And a half, he would remind you, as if the extra six months could do anything to mature his mind to handle this information – information each American doesn’t want to absorb.
Each time the news came on, on TV or in the car, I turned the station. We slid through the whole weekend that way.
We got to yesterday evening with Bulldog’s blissful ignorance in tact. But at dinner Daddy asked the big kids what had been said at school “about the shooting,” and Bulldog’s eyes immediately rivaled the size of the plates. “What shooting?” he asked.
I’m not mad at DB. Bulldog was going to hear about it sooner or later, and better from us than other kids on the playground. But it had to be discussed.
He wanted to know how many kids were killed. Then he asked what every child everywhere wants to know, wants to be reassured about – as do their parents: But it won’t happen near us, right? His mind (thank God) couldn’t even come up with the phrase all the older kids and parents come up with: to us.
I reminded him about the security guards already at his school, retired policemen who are sweet with the kids. I have watched as they scan each car at drop off. I have been annoyed at the closest door to the parking lot being locked, and having to walk around a quarter of the building to get in. I have been annoyed at having to sign in each time I arrive at school, even though they know me. In Newtown they probably knew a teacher’s son as well. I will try never to be annoyed again.
DB reminded him of how many millions of kids there are in the United States, and how incredibly rare this is (but not rare enough, I thought).
The conversation quickly turned to other things, and I was glad because I believe in meting out only the information the children ask for, about this and many other difficult topics (usually more pleasant difficult topics, like where babies come from). But I’m sure the topic will rise again and I am no more prepared to talk about it the next time than last night.
We tried to reassure him, but we were also just reassuring ourselves.