Hard parental discussions are framed in my head by children than are ages 10 years old and older. I figure my crowd, the under 5 crowd, should be filled with questions about where candy comes from, when can we ride a tractor and when can I get married. Can I get an amen on this one?
Things I didn't bargain for? A 4.5 year old that is far too perceptive and inquisitive for his own good. So perceptive, in fact, that he asked me yesterday morning in the car why there were so many flags out. Seriously? This is where my commitment to be honest about all the things to the point it's appropriate seems questionable (I'm looking at you Mom, Ms. I-don't-know-what-bastard-means). Turns out 9-11 is a tricky thing to explain to an anxious, perceptive, sensitive kid.
Time will tell on if I gave the right, or enough, or too much, information. I told Ell that some bad guys killed a lot of people because they didn't like our country and that the flags are the way we can remember them. He accepted this, we moved on to discussion of Goofy throwing up in my car. . . until this morning.
"Mommy, why do some people have to die before us?" Death is a common source of questions in the mind of a 4.5 year old, so I answered that we are all going to die someday and no one knows when that might be. "Why did those bad guys have to kill all those people? What happened to the bad guys?" Twenty-four hours later and his wheels still turning, trying to make sense of the unreasonable. Raising children in a world of uncertainty is tough, but the world is no more uncertain than it has always been. The question is how to balance protection and honesty, to raise bold & brave children not cowed by fear of coulds and might happens? Right now my answer is simplified honesty. I don't know that it's right, but it's right for right now.