Sunday, January 17, 2010

Get Up, Stand Up! Stand Up for Haiti!

In the early days of Motherese, I reflected on the November shootings at Fort Hood.  Many of the emotions that filled me then resurfaced this week, with perhaps even greater poignancy, in learning about the earthquake in Haiti.
I feel like drawing the shades, locking the doors, turning off the television, the radio, the computer. I want to hold my children close to me - close enough that they will never know the violence that exploded yesterday afternoon at Fort Hood or the unspeakable crimes that befell a 15-year old girl at a homecoming dance in Richmond, California or the slaughter of 16-year old Derrion Albert on his way home from school. I look at them, their wide eyes, their smooth cheeks, and I despair - not just because I am afraid for them in this land of easy killing and thoughtless dehumanization, but because I don't want to think of them going out into a world where such things are possible. Can't I just keep them forever in the land of bears sitting on chairs, where the only wild things are the kind that devour out of love rather than depravity?

I think this morning of the parents of the victims of these crimes. I think too of the parents of older children who may see the news and ask questions. I know I am the lucky one - to have my babies safe and too young to ask "Why?"
And this morning I think of natural disaster.  Of parents missing their children.  Of children missing their parents.  Of cries for help that go unanswered. 

And I still want to wrap the boys up, spinning a silky cocoon of protection around them.  Keeping the world and its realities away from them.  Away from children everywhere.

How do you talk to your children about things you cannot yourself comprehend?
Please go comment on Friday's post - each comment means another $2 for Partners in Health's relief efforts in Haiti.  And please make sure to visit Kelly Diels and her Help Haiti Blog Challenge post for a list of bloggers organizing to help the victims of the Haitian earthquake.


  1. There are no easy answers. There's no possible protection from what life has in store for our children, except the array of coping tools we give them, along with a foundation of love, respect, space, ability to question, and sense of stability in a parent who will always be there. And we must send them out into the world, because the world will find its way to them no matter what.

    As for answers to impossible questions, I guess we muddle through when we must. We unearth words that soothe, even as we grapple with the incomprehensible ourselves. My kids were in elementary school when 9/11 occurred - in the media center, watching television for something. They saw it all, before the thousands of replays. There is no good explanation, once they are of the beginnings of an age "of reason." Just as, the day JFK was killed, there was no explanation I could comprehend. Only fear and bewilderment, even as a child.

  2. I feel lucky TODAY that my kids aren't old enough to warrant an explanation. But "tomorrow" when they are... I don't know how I will handle it. I think it's so important for our kids to see confidence, security and strength in our eyes as we explain difficult things to them and if I not only don't have those things but also have fear and sadness added to the mix, it will be difficult for all of us.

    Hannah has just begun asking too many questions about death and dying. I'm grappling with what are the right words of explanation for her at her young age. Again, it's something that scares me, confuses me and saddens me but at least it's something NORMAL and it is expected so that should make explanation easier. Inexplicable tragedy... impossible to grasp for me.

  3. If we only could spin a cocoon around them and keep them protected forever.

  4. When things like this happen, I realize my heart beats outside my body in all the places my college-aged kids are. If something happened in one of these places.....
    Stuff like this makes us realize how little is really in our control. I used to love when everyone lived at home and was in bed at night, and I felt like everything I loved the most was right here. Now it's all over.
    Wonderful post.

  5. It always helps to be able to point a finger at a cause - a bad person, bad actions. But there are still those innocent people dying without warning - whether killed by an earthquake or by a gun.

    I tell my kids that every life has a beginning and an end and none of us knows when that is. I also tell them that as human beings sometimes we have to learn to live with the words "I don't know."

  6. I don't try to shield my kids from things. If it is difficult for even me to comprehend then I relay that message. So far it only my 7 year old who can understand these things. The 1 and 2 year old are still fortunate enough to be oblivious. But when the footage of Haiti came on the news Saturday morning, and I sat there wide-eyed and in awe as reporters walked through crowded streets and past dead bodies, I actually asked my oldest son to come and watch. I think that as hard as some things are, to shield our kids will not help them in any way. And for them to understand that life is bigger than them, than us, than our own little world, that is incredibly important. And for them to see tragedy, real tragedy, even if they don't quite understand it, that will serve it's purpose with every year that they grow older.

    I am teaching my children how to live in the world--a place that has no rules--and not just in my home (a place that has many rules). And I am ever confident in that.


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