Let Them Be Little: Sheltering Children During TragedyBeth Anne Ballance
There is a lot of information swirling around the internet about the Boston Marathon tragedy and as always, it is raising up questions and post about the exposure our children should have to these events. I’m going to be honest…I haven’t read a single one. Not because I don’t think they are probably well-thought and well-written pieces, but because they simply do not apply to me for the next several years.
I was 11 years old when I first learned that the world was not a beautiful place. I sat in my sixth grade classroom and watched footage of the Oklahoma City bombing. To this day, the picture of the fireman carrying out the little girl in his arms is burned into my mind. I remember the article I read about the mother, who had an oil painting done of the picture and kept her daughter’s room as a shrine. I thought it was strange, but in that tragedy, I also learned that people mourn and process differently.
My parents didn’t shelter me from the Oklahoma City bombing because they knew I was old enough to process the information while still feeling secure in my own home. I was old enough to shoulder the responsibility of knowing evil existed in real time. And I was mature enough to sympathize the pain and learn the bigger lessons from watching it (i.e. that people mourn differently). I learned those lessons again after Columbine as a 15-year old and again in college on September 11th. I’ve continued to watch and learn throughout my life and my mother told me today that she hurts for me, that I’ve seen so much pain in our world.
But for now, my son is not old enough. He’s only 3 1/2 and he still thinks that My Little Ponies really exist and that monsters under the bed are the scariest things. So on Monday afternoon, we played outside until the sunlight faded and the only television we watched was an episode of Ponies. We didn’t turn on the television or flip through our phones or give any inclination that we were sad for that day.
We let his innocence live on a little longer and hopefully he will be much older before he faces the truth.
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