Two recent conversations are leaving me wondering How much do we share? How much do we talk
about what’s going on?
In light of the current events in our country, in
light of world wide fear, the ever present anxiety that seems to be pressing on
so many of us— how much do we tell our children?
All at once our world is a place of broken hearts and a place of exquisite beauty.
How do we explain that
to our babies?
How do we show our little ones that they have the power to
repair the broken—to add to the beauty?
I assume they know it intrinsically, but maybe they don’t.
When do I start talking to them about the
importance of our thoughts, words, and deeds?
For better or for worse, I started the other day.
My son is
5 and my daughter is 3, so of course, I feel the need to shield them from the
actual horrific things that happen to people, I want them innocent as long as
possible. But the concepts behind fear, hatred, and violence—perhaps we can
start addressing those earlier. I’ve
decided I will. Having honest conversations that explain as much as I can to a
5 and 3-year-old seems to be one powerful way I can combat the hatred seeping
through the hearts of many people these days.
The first conversation happened about a week ago. The kids
were fighting. Not just arguing, which I can handle, but fighting.
Cruel words, angry kicking, purposeful attempts to hurt feelings. This—I can’t handle.
Arguing to make a point, or disagreeing on a topic, or debating until
compromise is reached are all skills I want them to have. When these sorts of ‘fights’ break out I let
them go without getting involved. But when it turns mean it triggers me. I can’t deal.
I have little patience. Less
than a little. None, in fact.
Purposefully mean fights are a rare occurrence in my home,
thankfully —but yes, one broke out last week. With my newsfeed and brain filled with nonsensical violence
around me, I simply could not handle a single moment of it in my home. Stop it! I
shouted. You are being MEAN. Mean. Stop
They looked at me like I was a nut (which I probably am) but
with a look that said “Mom, we are kids, kids do this, what is the big
I know it doesn’t seem like big deal to you guys. I know kids fight. I
know you don’t understand why this means so much to me. I’m going to try to
explain. People in our world can be very mean.
(Why mom? Why are they
I don’t know, you guys. People can
be mean because they forget the love in their hearts and it gets filled with
mean, instead. But people can be mean. People hurt other people. It is very
important to me that my family is filled with kindness. That we don’t forget
the love. That we add to the love in our world by being kind and loving to one
another. If we are fighting and being cruel, that means we are allowing hate
into our house. And I won’t have that. I just won’t. It’s ok to argue. It’s ok
to not agree. It’s ok to have different opinions. It is not ok to hurt each
other. To call each other names. I have no patience for it. None. Do you
“Yes, Mommy.” I heard.
I have no idea how much they actually
understood. But it opened a conversation.
A conversation that, hopefully, will continue with curious questions and
honest answers. At these ages, I’m
thinking this is the place to start.
The other heavy-for-small-people conversation happened last
My 3-year-old daughter, my Grace, has a heart with no filter. When
an emotion passes through her, it gets expressed. There is no other way for her
empathetic being to function. The kids watched The Little Mermaid for the first time yesterday afternoon. The
movie ended with Grace in sobs. In heart wrenching, shoulders heaving sobs.
“But why did Ariel leave her family? Will she ever see Flounder again? Is she
alone? Why is Ariel gone? Why did they explode Ursula?” she wailed. We tried to
explain it, attempted to tell her that her daddy and her sisters could visit,
that it was what Ariel really wanted, we tried to explain it all. She finally
calmed down, but I’m not sure she believed us. Later that night, she made a few
comments that alluded to the idea that she was embarrassed for having cried so
much about The Little Mermaid.
Grace. I told her,
holding her, looking right in her eyes. Do
not ever be embarrassed for how you are feeling. Your heart is one of the most
beautiful things I know. The way you love your family and your friends and
everyone around you is one of the best things in my life. When something sad
happens to someone else, you feel it. There is nothing wrong with that. That is
a special gift. Your kind and loving heart can help heal a world that hurts. We
need people like you.
At this point, I had tears streaming down my face
(obviously…I mean…we are an emotional family!) so I’m not sure how much sense I
was making. But I know she at least heard a bit of it. She hugged me tightly.
told her again to never ever change.
I hope she heard more than a bit of it. I hope she felt what I meant. I hope she knows the importance of being a feeler and a healer like she is.
In a world filled with hate, we need all the beings of love we can find. I don’t want the sadness and pain in the world to ever break her relentlessly kind and generous spirit.
Falling asleep last night I was replaying these
conversations in my mind and in my heart.
Was it too much? At this age, can
they understand my point?
I’m not sure. But it is important to me, as the mama
to these vibrant little beings to begin these conversations. To share why I get emotional about fighting, why it hurts me when she is embarrassed
for feeling so deeply.
I’m going to hide mass killings and police shootings and
snipers killing officers for as long as I can.
But I feel compelled to start the
To talk about the concepts and the ideas that eventually
culminate in hate and violence. We can
start discussing these things now.
We can open the lines of communication
within my family, so that when my small people become big people they have
words for concepts and the ability to discuss rather than fight.
have all the answers for our broken world, but I’m starting the conversation now.