Like everybody else, I woke up Saturday morning horrified to hear about the events that transpired in Colorado. The hate or derangement that fueled the assassin is something that I simply cannot fathom. My heart broke as I was watched the television, and I became transfixed on the stories of the survivors.
I turned the channel to cartoons as
soon as Robby woke up because I wanted to shield him from the random violence
that was being replayed on television. If I can't wrap my head around
what happened, I knew that it was unrealistic to expect a six year old
to make sense of it!
Despite my efforts, Robby learned
of the story. I came into the living room yesterday and he was watching
CNN. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and told me that "a bad man
killed people at the movies." I knew that we had two options: I could
turn off the television and try to dismiss the story, or I could take
the opportunity to discuss and teach. The latter was the more difficult
choice, but I also knew that it was the right thing to do.
packed up Robby and we drove for ice cream. For some reason our best
heart-to-heart conversations seem to flow easiest when we both have a
cone in hand. Sitting at the picnic table at the ice cream stand, I
took a deep breath and started to talk.
I began by
asking Robby to recount what he saw on television. He explained that a
man went into a movie with a "really big gun and shot people dead." He
also pondered that it was a Batman movie but that Batman wasn't there
because he would have stopped that bad man.
I took the
lead in the conversation and tried to explain that sometimes bad things
happen. We don't know why the man killed those people, but he is in jail
and can't hurt anybody else. I stressed that he is safe and that we
will always try to protect him. He seemed unimpressed and focused on his
ice cream cone throughout my well-rehearsed speech.
a moment he looked at me and asked, "Momom, what day did those people
die?" I answered that it happened on Friday night when he was in bed
sleeping. "Well Momom, if they died on Friday, what day will it be when
I die?" He looked at me intently and was waiting for an answer.
I was anticipated questions, but I was not prepared for this one.
Lacking any wise insights into how to respond, I found myself stumbling
for words. I don't remember my Mom ever struggling to explain anything
when I was young!
Robby finished his ice cream cone and
crawled onto my lap. I kissed his head and told him that he didn't have
to worry about dying for a very long time. He asked again what day it
will be when he dies. I knew he wanted an answer, so I finally told him
that it will be the day he gets to fly with angels.
the mere reference to flying was enough to turn the topic. He seemed
satisfied and began to chat about the flying dragons and wanting a new
kite. I know that he won't always be this easy to calm and distract, but I'm relieved that in this case it worked!
My heart breaks for
the victims in Colorado. I can't fathom the pain and anguish that is
being felt. My maternal instinct is to pack up Robby and Scott and run
to a safe place, somewhere away from society where nobody can harm us.
Of course, this isn't a realistic option. All I can really do is shield
him from all of the evil that seems to be reported on a regular basis,
arming him with love and trying to make his little corner of the world
safe and happy.