It seems that more and more frequently I have to have one of those conversations with the kids. The kind of conversations that become more and more difficult the older the kids get. It doesn’t help that the senseless shootings and victims of hate crimes affect kids who are close to my own kids’ ages, and sometimes, committed at the hands of those who are supposed to be protecting them.
These conversations are hard because for several years, we were part of the police family. We back the boys in blue, and enjoyed being connected to the fraternity of men and women who risk their lives daily. A lot of events have opened the door for conversations between the kids and my ex-husband, especially when they don’t understand if they should honor the police or be afraid of them.
Terrorism strikes in France. Terrorism strikes in Africa. And Terrorism strikes in Chicago.
I try to raise my kids with a sense of adventure and desire to explore the world, but it’s difficult when they have friends who live overseas and are living in a state of emergency and shelter in place at their home in Belgium.
Because of terrorist threats.
So now the terrorism is close to our hearts. Really close. And we have to have a conversation about it again. One that will begin with a prayer for our friends, the police, and the friends and family members of anyone in danger. And my hometown, Chicago…
So I ask them to pray without ceasing. But honestly I don’t what else I should say.
And the most recent conversation brought me back to a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago after tragedy occurred in our country. Keep reading.
Look for the helpers.
The popular quote from Mr. Rogers still rings loud and true. But after the news events of this week, I can’t help but wonder why we have to keep saying it. Monday’s events at the Boston Marathon and Wednesday’s events in West, TX have put a downer on news watching. It is sad, but to me, what it sadder is the conversation that I had to have with the Three Amigos.
It was a conversation that I wasn’t quite ready for.
Me: “I know said this two days ago, but I need to tell you again. When tragedy strikes and you are in a situation and I am not there, look for the helpers. The police, the firefighters, anyone who can help you.”
Jada: “What about the EPA? I would think they would be helpful in times like these. Especially since you said the explosion in West, TX was caused by a plant. Was it as big as a tree…or small like grass?”
Me: Pausing and being thankful for childhood naivete. “A synonym for a factory is sometimes called a plant, so it was a factory, not a plant like you were thinking about.”
CJ: “Jada, it’s kind of like a Nuclear Power Plant. You know about those right?”
Jada: Rolls eyes.
Tyra: “That plant had fertilizer in it, not weapons. Fertilizer is a compound of minerals and poop that help the soil.”
Jada: “I’m glad you told me about it. I was confused.”
CJ: “Do you want to learn about the Nuclear Plants too? I can tell you about those.”
Me: “Not now. I just want to talk about the helpers. Can we talk about the helpers?”
We arrive at school #1 and Jada says her goodbyes. I’m now alone with the middle schoolers.
Tyra: “Momma, I didn’t want to say this while the Little One was in the car, but I know what happened.”
Me: Thinking to myself, what little one? You are all one year apart. “What do you think happened?”
Me: Silently wishing the moment of naivete would come back. “Really?”
Tyra: “Yes. The terrorists did horrible things in Boston and they snuck into that plant in West, Texas. They thought we wouldn’t make the connection, but I did.”
Me: “Tyra, you are using skills to deduce things. That’s good. I’m interested in seeing what’s on the news tonight about the causes. Let’s talk more about it then.”
CJ: “Tyra, you are not the only person who makes connections. The CIA and FBI are already checking this out. I’m telling you this is about nuclear weapons.”
Me: “We will find out more as the day unfolds. You guys have a good day.”
CJ: “I’ll research the nuclear connection, ok?”
Me: Grateful for the desire to research, but still wanting the naivete to return.
And still today, even though I’m at a loss for words, in addition to praying, I find myself saying, “Always look for the helpers.”