My husband and I make it a point to not watch the news while the girls are up. If we do watch it, it’s typically the 10:00 or 11:00 news. We feel they are just too young to be exposed to all of the violence and sadness that inundates the news programs. We recently had company and over and the TV was on in the background as we were talking. It was just background noise. Or so I thought, until my daughter leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “Why’d the people get killed?” Thinking that I misunderstood her, I asked her to repeat her question. Nope – I had heard her correctly. It took a few seconds but I realized that she had been watching the news as the rest of us paid no attention to it.
In this moment, she totally caught me off guard. It was a legitimate question I had no legitimate answer for. It’s impossible to make sense of the senseless. I was so unprepared! Luckily something distracted her and she moved on rather quickly. Whew! I dodged that bullet…for now at least. This time, it served as a reminder of just how observant children really are, even when you think they are not paying attention.
I want my children to grow up noticing the good in the world; to not suffer from all the fears and worries that we adults do. That can wait. Although I enjoy being in the know about current events, there are often times I avoid watching the news because it tends to be totally centered on such horrific things taking place on a daily basis – school shootings, sexual abuse, kidnappings, domestic violence, hate crimes, animal cruelty, and the list goes on and on. Depressing is an understatement.
Please don’t misunderstand me though. It’s not that I refuse to talk with my children about some of the more serious subjects. In fact, I have already had conversations with my preschooler regarding stranger danger (not going anywhere with someone you don’t know unless they are a police officer or a firefighter) and what is considered inappropriate touching in regards to their private parts (and that their vagina is called a vagina and boys have penises). These conversations usually consist of very general explanations without going into too many details.
I’m not naïve (okay, maybe a little). I know there will be many difficult questions and topics that my kids will want to address in the future; topics that I will be obligated to explain and provide answers to. When the time is right, I will be as open and honest as I feel is appropriate and necessary. For now, I just want them to enjoy being kids.