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The day of the Boston Marathon bombing, Owen and I were at the gym, doing family swim. I came out of the gym to a lot of texts wondering if I was okay, and I spent our ride home frantically calling multiple people in the hopes they could tell me that my friends running it were okay.
Owen was 5.
I knew as it was happening that he was entirely too young to witness my fear and shock and worry. But I couldn’t help it that day. And we told him about the bombing, because he asked, and we did watch the news that night. And then we spent months afterwards talking him through what happened, trying to help him process it.
Since then, whenever we go somewhere and the news is on, he’s sucked into it and all questions. What happened? Why are they showing pictures of [insert whatever awful story is on the news]? Why did [insert perpetrators] do that to [insert victims]?
We try and tell him the truth as age appropriately as we can when he asks, but because he gets so focused on it, we basically avoid all news programs when he’s around. Which is easier on us, of course. I can’t explain so much of the awfulness that is on the news to myself – how can I explain it to my son?
But yesterday, when we were watching the Patriots game with friends, a commercial for 60 Minutes came on, which was about Paris.
Owen asked, What happened in Paris? And his best friend said, My dad told me. Dad – tell Owen what happened in Paris.
His dad was in the middle of a conversation, so it was never talked about.
But it struck me then – we’re not doing Owen any favors by ignoring current events and hoping he never has to see them, either. We need to explain what’s going on.
I don’t know. I want him to have a childhood away from pervasive media, but I don’t want to make it off limits, either.
So here’s where I ask you all for advice.
Do you explain current events to your kids? If so, how?