I got the phone call shortly after I dropped the girls off for school.
There was a bomb threat and a threat of violence to several schools in the county, and everyone was on lockdown until further notice. Little did I know at the time, but that “further notice” was going to come five excruciating hours later. My preschooler and first-grader were locked in a classroom, and I didn’t know if they were scared, had any clue as to what was going on, or when they were going to be able to go home. I felt helpless and scared.
Once the school finally released them, I don’t think I’ve ever hugged my girls as hard as I did in that moment.
“We had the longest lockdown drill today,” my oldest daughter said.
It was then that I knew she had no idea of what transpired during those five hours — and we kept it that way.
There’s a lot of bad that goes on in the world, and my children are completely oblivious to all of it. I’m not sure if sheltering them from it is the answer, but right now it feels like the only choice I have.
Of course, I know that my youngest two aren’t old enough to comprehend what’s going on. But my oldest daughter is six and she is beginning to understand. How long can we shield her from the reality that is going on around her? How long should I shield her?
As I prepared for my journey in motherhood (as much as you can really prepare for this sort of thing), I expected the long sleepless nights, the crankiness from teething, the tantrums on the floor because they didn’t get what they wanted. But what I didn’t expect was questions asking why there are several policeman at her school for days and why she had to unexpectedly get out of school early. The questions asking me what a bomb is or why they have to hide in a classroom just in case “a scary man enters the school.”
These are the actual questions I’ve gotten from my daughter.
We don’t watch the news anymore when the kids are around. We can’t. There’s too much negative content that’s too graphic for their eyes. My husband and I have filtered our conversations on world events while the kids are with us or just save them altogether for when they go to bed.
I’m living in uncharted territory. Not only is our world being turned upside down, but mine is, too. It’s our job as parents to protect and shield our children from everything. We have to keep them safe. But sometimes that feels nearly impossible when we have no control of our surroundings.
When is it okay to lift the cover from their eyes and allow them to see our world for the first time, for what it really is?More On