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Mama talk

April 16, 2013

While I may be protective of my son, I try my best not to keep world events from him or lie to him (“I’ve never met the tooth fairy/easter bunny/Santa on her/his rounds but s/he is all about the spirit of giving without expecting anything in return, which is a good thing don’t you think?”). I have always told him about world events that will touch him (like the Sandy Hook shooting…his school now does emergency drills…to think as a kid the worst thing I had to prepare for was a fire or tornado) or upsetting events that he will certainly hear about like yesterday’s events in Boston.

I do it because I want him to hear the facts from someone he trusts and not hearsay from his friends.  I do it because he needs to be aware on some level that bad things do happen in the world.  I try not to tell him about the gory details, like one of those killed yesterday is a child a mere two years older than him or the specific injuries such as “traumatic amputation” (which sounds more frightening to me than saying they lost a limb!) .  After Sandy Hook, I actually had another mother tell me that she wasn’t going to tell her child anything, which I thought was horrible.  Why would you want your child to learn about these things from someone else?  If these are frightening and upsetting events for adults, why would one think they are less so for children?!  So why would not want to regulate what they hear or how they hear it because be sure, they will hear about it.  Our culture one that revolves around the internet where information is readily available in factual and speculative information.  Children will hear things from their friends, from the radio, etc.  so tell them in terms they can understand without the gory detail.

On the other hand, I still need to be very careful on what I tell my son and how.  He is like me in that he has very vivid dreams.  I try not to give him such details as provides fuel for his dreams.  It is a difficult, fine line to tread.  Do I wish I could not tell him anything at all?  Yes.  Yet it is my job to prepare him for the real world, which is also why I always try to answer his questions and fears honestly.   After we put him to bed last night, he got up a little while later to say he was scared…scared of bad people doing bad things to him/us.  I stared at him, at a loss of what to say.  The chances of something happening are slim, but yet much better during this day and age than when I was a child.  I was at a loss of what to say that would comfort him and yet still be honest.  We have races (bike, foot, snowshoe, etc.) that occur in and around our small town…what is to keep it from happening here?  I offered platitudes because at that point there was nothing else to offer.  Life doesn’t come with guaranties.  I told him we live in a small town, far a way from anything important so there was little reason for it to attract the attention of someone who wants to make a media splash.  Which is true for what it is worth.  Yet we spend a fair amount of time in Denver which isn’t so small and anonymous.  I can’t guaranty him safety there or any where really.  But this isn’t something you tell a 6 year old who needs his sleep.  I told him, as I tucked him back into bed, that the best thing he could do was pray to the gods and tell them his worries, then to let them go and go to sleep.

Inadequate?  Most definitely, but I don’t know what else I could have said.  I know that I’m not a great mother.  I’m short tempered and make more than a few mistakes on a daily basis.  My job is to raise him to be a quality adult with as few bad qualities (especially my bad qualities…be more like your dad, I tell him) as possible.  I want him to be realistic but not a fatalist.  I want him to have a strong spiritual base so that he can face whatever fate, karma or chance throw his way with his head held high.  All I can say to him as he grows up is yes there are bad people in the world who do terrible things yet look at all those that rush to help.  Look to the helpers.  Be one of the helpers, for it is the helpers who make humanity better, who bring solace the troubled.  Be willing to help your fellow up, instead of knocking him down.  (Yet never be afraid to defend yourself or your beliefs…however that is a separate lecture for another time…)

Is it enough?  I don’t know.  All I can tell you is that he slept without nightmares…for that I am thankful.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. J_Agathokles permalink
    April 16, 2013 10:15 AM

    I agree that it is important to tell him such things, in a way that he’ll understand. I think our culture in general should stop belittling it’s children and try to keep them ignorant of bad things for as long as possible, and instead should treat children like intelligent human beings. They’ll learn about the bad things anyways, so it’s better to prepare them.


    • April 16, 2013 10:25 AM

      My mother often accuses me of talking to my son like he is an adult. I don’t but neither do I mince words, baby talk or use pet names for things. He (and all children) tend to understand more than they let on or even know how to express. If he doesn’t, he asks. That is the important part, if a child asks, then s/he is ready for the answer. Don’t skip around or prevaricate. Answer the damn question.



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