At a holiday party this weekend, my friend, who has a 6 year old, was telling me about how her daughter was fixated on the news they watched all Thanksgiving weekend. My friend was in unfamiliar territory. Like all of us, she attempts to control the media her daughter sees. She balances telling the truth at all times with safeguarding her child's innocence. She weighs the pros and cons of each PBS Sprout program before allowing her children to watch it. But current events throw our carefully orchestrated systems of parenting out the window sometimes. Incapable of turning off the coverage of the Taj, my friend wondered whether she should let her daughter see the graphic footage of carnage and death, how she should explain it, and now, over a week later, she is dealing with how to field the constant and myriad questions the images provoked in her daughter.
Why are the men smiling Mommy?
Is that a baby?
What is happening in that hotel now?
Who cleaned all of that up?
"When she asked me if the terrorists' moms are mad at them, I had to leave the room so that she didn't see me cry," my friend told me.
We were at a Christmas party at a tiki bar. It was a pretty surreal setting for the unsettling conversation, and "Guns and Roses" was playing in the background. We both took sips of our drinks and I felt grateful for the small fact that, when my 3 year old asked me about the coverage of the attacks, I was able to tell him that it was a bad movie and that Fireman Sam was coming to save everyone and that the good guys win in the end.
My kids don't understand these things. Yet.