My kids know about the Boston Marathon attack and the manhunt that ensued. While I live in a Boston suburb, we were not personally ever in direct danger, more than anyone somewhere else in the country. The kids and I were cleaning out their drawers and listening to classic rock when WZLX cut to WBZ for full coverage. My kids listened and watched as I ran down the stairs and interrupted my husband’s conference call to tell him what was happening. We put the TV on. For the rest of the day, they saw footage and heard reports as we finished cleaning the drawers and they played. We talked about how it wasn’t like the pretend cannons like we’d seen go off earlier in celebrating Patriots Day at the Old North Bridge in Concord. They didn’t have questions, but all remarked any time injury numbers increased.
A few days later we were in the car and talked about not mentioning the explosions to their peers and how it was important not to start or retell rumors that they didn’t know as facts. I had them tell me what facts they did know. They didn’t relay many details, and I didn’t offer much additional information. Sharing this event was a decision we made based on my kids and their ages and personalities, not an opinion of what is right for every family.
I have sifted through a lot of media, watched a lot of news coverage and seen many comments on this event, as I’m sure most people have done (at least in our local area). Some stories may make a person question the motives of a higher power; some stories may strengthen a belief. Some stories may give a sense of pride, admiration and camaraderie, and other stories portray actions that are downright shameful.
I can’t rationalize the evil actions, motives or hurtful words surrounding this event. Human intent to harm other humans goes beyond accident or natural disaster. Part of the heartbreak and confusion is wondering how a human spirit can fracture in such a way. I’m not going to try to rationalize or make sense of it, and I would hope that this would never make any sense to most people. So I’m left with rationalizing the aftermath.
The Washington Post had an article today about the enormous task the authorities had sorting through all of the photographic, material, technological, and verbal evidence in the search for suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. It explained how the media, the internet and social technology can really get in the way of and impact decisions made in investigations. There was a sentence that stuck out to me as a good explanation of what our society has become and one of the lessons we should try to teach our children.
“It is an object lesson in how hard it is to separate the meaningful from the noise in a world awash with information.”
I want my kids to walk through life knowing how to sift through and find the meaningful and let the noise wash away.
Here are a few of the relevant things I hope they can sift out:
Do not believe everything you read online.
My kids should know that for the most part, they are safe wherever they go, and wherever they go, there will be someone who will help them if they need it.
Sometimes bad things happen, they can be small and look like paper cuts, letting the ball into the goal, losing a library book, not being able to fall asleep, or being left out. Sometimes the bad things are a lot bigger, and that can come in many forms too. With work and time, we can heal and adapt to whatever comes.
We can be vigilant, but not to the point that we are hiding, avoiding or not completely enjoying things that makes us happy.
Do not sterotype. Do not cast judgments without evidence. Treat everyone as an individual. Two grapes may look exactly the same and one will be sweet and one will make you pucker. And anyone who says all grapes are sour (or sweet) leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.