My Childhood Brush With Historical Re-enactment Fame
I Can Haz Cat? No I Cannot Haz Cat.


So this has been quite a week, no? I'm just...ugh. Boston. 

Tuesday's post had been scheduled months in advance, as most sponsored posts are, and I admit it was nice to stick my fingers in my ears and just post the blogging equivalent of LA LA LA LA LA LA ANYTHING ELSE. LET'S TALK ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE. 

But it's been hard coming up with the next thing to say. Maybe because there just isn't anything to say. 

My brother lives in Boston. Jason's brother lives in Boston. My nephew, his niece, our sister-in-law. They are fine. I feel stupid even bringing them up because they weren't anywhere in the vicinity of what happened on Monday, know. It's the first place your brain goes. 

The second place my personal brain goes is right back to the morning of 9/11. I was 24. Stuck in traffic on a bridge heading from D.C. to my office in Virginia, listening to the awful news unfold on the radio. Suddenly seeing black wisps of smoke in the sky on the horizon, down the Potomac. Realizing it was from the Pentagon. Realizing that nothing would ever, ever be the same again.

First Newtown, now Boston, both events with victims near the age of my own child, both events that leave me almost trembling at the daunting task of keeping my babies safe, of all the years ahead and all the terrible randomness of it all. And of course it won't ever stop. Eight years old or 29; that's still someone's baby and I just can't. I just can't even. 

In the days following these things I get inundated with emails from "experts" pitching articles or offering interviews and tips on talking to your kids about what happened. The Mister Rogers "look for the helpers" quote (which I reread and repeat for my own grown-up sanity, actually) makes the rounds on Facebook.

My kids are all still at an age where...well, we just don't talk about it yet. They don't know about Aurora or Newtown or Boston, or any of the news stories that cause me to put my hand on my heart and turn away from the laptop screen. Noah still repeatedly asks if there "really is such thing as ROBBERS," because stealing is about the worst crime he can currently fathom. They don't know about the bad things that can happen, that can happen to innocent little kids, that mommies and daddies and policemen can't stop from happening. They watch my brow furrow as I thumb through news coverage on my phone and ask what game I'm playing. They indulge my need for extra hugs and laugh because "you're squeezing me too tight, Mom! let gooooo!"

Some day they'll have the moment that I did out on that bridge. That moment of shocking, mortal clarity where you just realize...everything. All of it. Just like that. 

But not yet. Not this week. Not on my watch. 



I am with you on not talking to the kids about it. I see links to posts on how to talk to your kids about the most recent horrible world event and think, NO! I am not telling my six- and four-year olds about this, just as we don't discuss any number of non-age-appropriate topics. Not on my watch, indeed.


Yes. I'm watching my one-year-old son napping, and reading the news, and I can't even stand it. While I used to feel like I had to read about this stuff so I wasn't ignoring the suffering of others now... I just can't. I can't even bear to think about him learning about this horror one day. I really did rip out a piece of my heart and let it loose into the world when he was born.


It doesn't take a parent to feel gutted by a tragedy that takes the life of a child, but once you are, it certainly hits on a new level. I think of all the late nights, bouncing the babies to sleep, the babyproofing, the care we take with every element of their diet, their care, their surroundings. Then I think that something so random could take away this person we love more than life itself. I think of the mother in Boston who's fighting for her own life after having lost one child with her other one wounded. Where does she find the will to push through?

Like you, Amy, I'm just so grateful that my toddler is far too young to think that there may be evil in this world. I hope it's many, many years before she knows otherwise.

Megan @ Mama Bub

It's probably the thing I'm most grateful in the face of all of this, that the one thing I can still protect is their heart. For now, anyway.


My kids are older than your boys and the ability to shield them seems to be decreasing way too damn fast. My oldest wants to discuss the bombing in detail, is now concerned about her safety, her proximity to the White House while at school. My middle girl wants to discuss but only on a just gimme the facts kind of level so that her happiness cloud is not tarnished with ick. I'm trying to do my best, I am. Sometimes I suck and just say not right now, can't talk about it right now. And then there are times the 3 yr old walks in where daddy is watching CNN and points and says, "Why is she crying?" and just...damn.


I told my 6 (turning 7 in a couple of weeks) year-old a little about Connecticut. I felt like a had to because they are doing drills in his school. They had all of the kids go into a closet and be quiet for a period of time. He naturally wanted to know why...I felt like he needed to know about listening to his teacher if anything bad ever happened at school - fire, crazy person or any emergency.

But when the bombs in Boston happened - I just didn't say a word. I just don't see the point in him hearing about it yet...


And today it's West, Texas... and I realize that it'd impossible enough to even try to make sense of tragedies that aren't caused by someone doing something evil. I think for me, if I can't even explain it to myself yet, there's no point in trying to really explain it to my children. I'll never understand how anyone could do something like that, so there's no possible way for me to try and help them understand either. We all make sense of the world and its evils in our own way and eventually we all have to become aware of it, but yeah... there's much to be said for innocence.


On Monday, as I was reeling from the shock, I thought "What is happening to the world? This kind of thing never used to happen when I was a kid." But then I thought, maybe it did -- not THIS stuff, but other, similar, horrifying stuff -- and my parents were kind enough to protect me from the horrors of it, to keep me blissfully unaware. I, for one, am thankful to my parents for extending that kindness to me.


My son experienced grief early in life, last year when he was 7. He lost his father to a sudden cardiac arrest. No warning whatsoever. Brought the subject of grief and death to a whole new level, and I've found that I can't really shield him from it as much as I'd like to anymore. He sees grieving people on TV and relates it to his own grief. His questions about world events have taken on a much deeper philosophical bent, and he can empathize so much more. Is this a bad thing? No. Do I wish his personal tragedy hadn't happened? Yes. It's very, very difficult to be a parent and watch your child be forced to mature a little faster than you feel they are ready for due to outside events. Sarah's comment above is so dead on - they truly are a piece of you let loose on the world. Parenting is the most wonderful, scariest thing I've ever done.


My very observant 8 year began questioning why the flags on the drive to school are half mast. I told him something sad happened-this quieted my 5 year old, but my older son said he wants to KNOW MORE about the sad after school. Not sure what to do about it.....

Jenn S

we live maybe about 3 (?) miles from where the bombs went off. we weren't anywhere near it (my son was napping around that time), but there was so much panic trying to figure out if all of our friends & family (who mostly live in the Boston area) were OK, since a lot of them run/volunteer at the med tent/spectate. i am still shaking at the thought that...that could have been us, or our loved ones. sometimes i want to wrap my son up in bubble wrap & just keep him "safe" in the house...but realizing that that's no sort of life at all, we venture forward. GAH.


Beautiful post Amy. We have never talked to Michael about it either, although he must have heard about it at school, because he asked me about bombings on Wednesday and then asked if the "robbers" got killed.

Sarah Lynn

The time comes all too soon when you have to say something to a child because of the wild things he or she will hear from other children. Terri's 8-year-old will want more information and I'm sure she prefers to to present it her way, rather than have someone at recess tell some graphic and confused version. To know when you have to do this is a real dilemma, but it's one any parent needs to face.


I'm considering a news black out for a couple of days. Not because that makes anything better, but because I feel scared and sad. I can't breathe quite right and I'm not sleeping well. And there is nothing, nothing at all in my own life to explain that pervasive anxiety. It has to be the news. Boston, Waco, everything that's preceded it... I think I need to take a vacation and just be in my own life for a few days.


We had a school shooting here in southern France last year, and the killer was on the run for several days afterwards. During this time, every school in the town had armed guards posted by the gates, so we had no choice but to tell our children a watered-down version of the truth.

My 6 year old and 10 yr old were told that a bad man had hurt children, but that the school and the police had put measures in place that would keep them and their friends safe. Both seemed to accept it without any obvious long-term negative effects, although both were nervous and asked for reassurance for those days.

It made all of us, parents and teachers, sick to our souls to have to destroy their innocence. What a sad world we live in indeed.


When 9/11 happened I knew I wanted to protect my fourth and first graders from the news. What I did not count on: that the school bus driver would listen to the news ALL THE WAY TO SCHOOL...we were in Colorado so the timing worked that way for first reports. That the school would bring in counselors to talk to the kids and manage to schedule each of my kids' class meetings for the half day when there was a substitute instead of their own teacher. That some parents let their kids watch tv and talked about people jumping. That the substitute and counselor in the first grade class let the kid go on and on and on about the jumping (I showed up for a volunteer session in to hear it and recognized the kid as one the regular teacher would have shut down immediately and talked to privately). We simply did not turn on the television once the boys were home for weeks. Our older son asked to see the front section of the newspaper (we had put it away), looked at one picture and said "I see why you don't think I should see this in the morning" and walked away.


We've protected our 6 year old son from these incidents as much as we can. Although the other night we were at a Mexican restaurant and the news was on with the explosion pretty much on repeat so we told him there had been an explosion but not that someone deliberately had caused the explosion. To hurt people. On purpose. Because, I don't want to tell him that we live in a world like that. Not yet.


Yep, my kids don't know about any of that either. My 7yo plans his moves for "if a thief comes into the house," which is the worst thing he can imagine. (Despite the lock-down drill they had at school. I'm not quite sure how the teachers worded that but I'm eternally grateful that they didn't spook him at all over it.) We've supported his Dad running the Boston marathon in past years, which just made this all the scarier for me.


Columbine is the first tradgedy I remember hearing about at the time that it happened - I was 12. Two years later it was 9/11 and remember my 9th grade math teacher saying "it's not a big deal". I know now that she was probably the same age that I am now and honestly didn't know what else to say to 30 scared young teens, but I was so pissed off at her at the time.

Springsteen fan

Perfectly said. This post is why I love reading you so so much.


I am almost in Tears because, that. Exactly! My peanut is only 14 months so far from being able to comprehend any of this mess but I just can't fathom explaining any of this to her. My heart goes out to all effected but part if it also has to stay here and squeeze my baby while she still allows it!


Thanks Sarah Lynn. You are right- I need to talk to him, he will get grisly misguided details if I don't. He is just the kind of kid that will keep asking and asking, it is hard when you just don't want to tell the horrible truth..

Sarah Lynn

Very, very hard to tell the appropriate "truth." At 9/11, my daughter and granddaughter were living with us. We thought so hard about how to give that 4-year-old an appropriate understanding of the events, and we thought we had done so well. One day when she was 9, she heard about 9/11, and said "Wait, you mean all that stuff was done on purpose?" So, we hadn't quite done as well as we intended.


Yes, and yes. I have been feeling all the feelings and this post articulates them perfectly.

Sue C

God bless Boston and all those who are suffering. Today it is my neck of the woods having to suffer. I have been to West, Texas many times. I had a roommate in college who was from Abbott, right next to West. My neighbor is down in West now, cooking for those in need of a meal. Bless them all. A difficult week for many.


I realize I may well be the in the minority saying this, but I believe we have a responsibility to talk to our kids about this stuff -- just like we have a responsibility to talk about "bad touch" and how to escape a house fire and just a whole host of other things we wish they didn't EVER have to think about. I have a six year old and a 15 month old; the younger one is too yound for explanations, but the six year needs at least the outlines. Kids talk at school. Grown ups are worried. And while we didn't have the radio on (we don't really watch TV) the day of, we can't block out news or information or pictures (because my lands the pictures are everywhere.....) forever. And we couldn't block out Newtown. And we can't even really block out 9/11 so we have needed to talk about that too because it is part of our country's history and it still gets brought up ALL THE TIME and thus the older one at least is already exposed.
So I view it as my responsibility as a parent to arm her with the basics and add layers as she gets older. I then back that up with more hugs and snuggles than she probably thinks is ENTIRELY necessary, but still....
Kids are SO much more observant that we give them credit for. We think we are covering up our fear or anxiety and they know something is up. They may not say it explicitly, but they KNOW. And being kids and inherently ego-centric, it is important for them to know the worry is not about them (while it is FOR them, it is not about something they have done).
Plus, as much as I wish my kids didn't NEED these skills, since I can't change the fact that they do, then it is my job as their Mama, to make sure they have them. So that they are not left quite as bereft the first (or second or third....) time they are dealing with these types of events on their own.
I do believe that every kid (and every family) is different and that there is no one script, or any one conversation style, that will work for everyone. But we each need to find a way to have a version of that conversation.....and then keep having it in pieces, here and there, not in one big lump -- because we don't have these experiences as one lump, we have them over time. And that is an important skill to learn too.


I told my three boys (9, 9 & 5) briefly the morning before they went to school. I now regret it but I felt like I wanted them to have some basis for what they were likely to hear in school. I should have talked to the older boys separately because my littlest is my worrier (no longer interested in going to Grandpa's beach house because of concern about tsunamis...). I wish I hadn't given him this to worry about. It nearly broke my heart (and blew me away) when he said (knowing only that 3 people had died and lots were hurt) that "maybe the people who died were the bad guys who had the bomb."


It's definitely a balance. Too much information = traumatized kids. Too little = vulnerable kids.

C is for Cape Town

I totally agree and just posted about this too. My girls are nearly 6 and 3 and I don't elect to talk to them about any of this. We live in South Africa and there is so much to worry about in our society at present, but that can't be their worry. Not yet.
I really believe the longer children can believe the world is good, the stronger their foundation will be when it comes time to learn the sad lessons that sometimes it isn't.

Marie, a different one

I'm right with you. My four year old is peacefully ignorant of all the violence and well, terror, going on on the fringes of our world, and I'm happy to keep it that way. I've never been happier to NOT have a tv in the house. She almost caught me in tears a couple times after Newtown, but I faked it like it was no big thingie. Allergies, you know.

I'm relieved that her worst fears thus far are imaginary. My fears are worse, but I don't want to infect her with my cynicism. I think it might be something you have to learn for yourself. But my own mother didn't even tell me about 9/11 when I saw her that morning. What was that about? Maybe her habit of keeping unpleasant things from me prevailed, even after childhood. Like she imagined I would not find out? *shrug* I'm seeing it from multiple perspectives now.

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