Monday, May 02, 2011

This one isn't easy

Being a parent is no fun when you have to explain "adult things" to your children.

I remember as a child there was a serial killer in our area. He had murdered several people within an 50 mile radius of where we lived and it was all over the news. One of the young women murdered was a teacher, another was the older sister of a friend, and the attorney that prosecuted the case was a family friend. It was all very close to home.

There was also the earthquake in San Francisco in 1989, I was almost 11. My grandparents had large exposed beams in their family room, and ever since I remember making sure that I was always lying between the beams so that if there was an earthquake I wouldn't be trapped beneath the huge pieces of wood.

There was also a stabbing, fires and attempted kidnappings that I vividly remember hearing about. All of these memories have made me very aware of keeping the nightly news of doom and gloom at a minimum when the kids are around. As a parent, you want to protect your kids from scary things, from the boogie man, you want them to feel safe and secure but how can you avoid the evil and the natural disasters that happen daily? You simply cannot.

In Holden's world, especially in Asia there has been some pretty scary things that we have had to explain. Tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, more tsunamis and nuclear fallout; and that's just the "natural" disasters!

So when this day of reckoning came. When the news broke that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, that justice had been served and he would meet his Maker, we yet again had some explaining to do. "Who was this man, what did he do, why are people so happy he is dead?"

I will never forget "that day," really, no one will. I was paralyzed that early morning in Boise when my roommate and I sat on our blue faded sofa and watched things unfold live. I was still an idealistic college student and until that day, all the world seemed safe. American soil seemed safe, we didn't know any other reality. I couldn't go to class that day, or the next, or even the one after that. I had just moved home from Washington DC and it felt too close to home. I am still moved to tears thinking about the images of that day that changed America. Of the plane hitting the second tower, of the people jumping from the flaming windows to their death, of the towers crashing down and the thick cloud of smoke that chased people down as they ran to escape.

Explaing something so traumatic that so wholly changed the world to my seven year old child is not easy. So with tears in my eyes I just told him that a few years before he was born there was a very bad man who hurt a lot of people and for all these years (almost 10 now) the US military has been looking for him, and they finally found him so there are a lot of happy people now knowing that he won't be around to hurt anyone else. But in truth, I know there will be more people hurt, I know that this is not the end of terrorism, in fact it may just be the beginning and bad things happen every day. Soon enough he will have his own moment of change when he knows things will never be the same. He will conjure up images of the horrible things that have happened in his lifetime but for now I just want to keep him safe and secure in his blissful bubble of childhood. I wonder, what will be his reality of "lying between the beams?"