Talking With My Daughter About The Bombing

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Yesterday morning, I told Roozle about the marathon bombing. Here in Boston, it isn’t so much about should we? it’s a whole lot more of when and how. This time, it’s too close. This is our home. Roozle was just in that neighborhood on an adventure to visit Make Way For Ducklings a few weeks ago. MCB is there almost daily for work. Everyone is talking about it. She had to know. She had to find out from us. Thankfully, the kids in Boston have this week off. We had time. So I waited. I waited until I stopped feeling nauseous. I waited until my eyes stopped burning. I waited until my voice stopped cracking. I waited. And I told her.

My plan was to start with what she knows. She knows nothing about what happened as she’s had no exposure to the media and we’ve been quiet around her. She doesn’t know what a bomb is. She still doesn’t even know what a gun is. But here, people are talking. Bags are being searched. There are police and ATF and SWAT teams everywhere. I tried to think about what other preschoolers might say about it. That they would likely use the term bad guys, so I should too. I needed to meet her where she was at and make it as simple as possible.

I told her that there was a big explosion at the big road race, the one near the tall Boston buildings. I told her that the explosion hurt a lot of people.

She interrupted. She asked me to see a picture of it.

I tried to tell her no, that it was big and I didn’t want it to scare her, but she insisted. So I hid my phone and quickly found a photo that was appropriate, if there is such a thing. Together, we looked at the photo. We talked about the police officers and all the people you can see running towards the explosion. How they were all running to go help the people who were hurt.

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I told her that a bad guy made the explosion happen and that it can make us feel scared that sometimes people can make such bad decisions to hurt so many people. We talked about how it’s okay to be scared and to talk about feeling scared when something happens that we don’t like. We also talked about how there are these bad guys, but how there are always so many more people who are there for helping.

She listened and went back to the Lego house she was building. When she finished the house, she put her big hat over the house. She said that it would protect the house from the bad guy. A few moments later, she announced that the bad guys got into the hat! They were going to hurt the people! Let’s call the workers to come help! We both smiled as we pretended that a long line of workers came to help. Teachers, doctors, parents, and police officers.

As parents, we never want to have to have these kinds of conversations with our kids. The world really shouldn’t be like this. Our home shouldn’t be like this. But it is. And it’s our job to carefully give them a frame of reference to connect what they may hear outside the home with what they’ve heard from us.

Here in Boston, if you’re looking for the helpers, they’re easy to find. Around here, the helpers are everywhere. And that, though this is impossibly hard, does make it all a bit easier.

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8 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this. I think you handled the talk very well. She understood and had the chance to process it. I tried talking to my 9 yr old about it and her response has been to gloss over it and pretend it never happened.

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  2. I love that she processed the info through play. That’s the best possible outcome you could hope for for a 4 yr old. Yay, play therapy!

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    • I was really worried that she would either be scared or ignore it, both of which I really didn’t want to happen. Seeing her play it out was so perfect. I didn’t plan it this way at all, but I think it helped that I started talking to her WHILE she was playing (instead of while in the car or during dinner or something).

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  3. Wow, Casey. I don’t think it was possible to handle that discussion any better. I’m so sorry that you had to have it in the first place. Love to you and your family and your city.

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  4. Wow, Casey, I’m going to use your explanation as a model for future discussions with my kids. My 5-year-old has seen the news but hasn’t said anything, and fortunately, my 2 1/2-year-old is too young, but I know that, sadly, this is not the last public tragedy the kids will see. Thanks for making me feel prepared.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad it went well with Roozle.

    We told Peter on Monday night and he didn’t seem frightened although it’s always hard to tell how he processes things. He wanted to see the pictures too. He has lots of questions (as always) but nothing to seem to indicate that he felt unsafe. Probably the sweetest thing is that he knows his old preschool teacher Claire runs every year. We were telling him about how so many people rushed in to help the people who were hurt and he said “Claire would be one of the helpers because she is a teacher.”

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  6. It sounds like you handled it in the best way possible, and it sounds like she came away from it with a helpful message. Sometimes bad things happen, but there are always lots of good people out there doing the right thing.

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  1. Lockdown | Life with Roozle - [...] we have told Roozle about the marathon bombing, we haven’t told her anything about this and don’t plan to. …

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