In a few weeks, it will be the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. As you guys have figured out by now, I live in New York City, and we lived through it and saw the aftermath. We were fine, we were lucky (oh so lucky), but as it was happening, and in the weeks and months that followed, there were many questions from Kiddo. Some were just the basics of a hurricane, but also how evacuations work, what kind of destruction does flood water make, where do people go when they lose their homes. Right, many were just fact-type inquiries, but others were a little more emotional, like did kids get to keep their blankies and what about the pet fishes.
Since school was cancelled, and we had to stay indoors for precaution, we weren't able to avoid talking about what was happening. We had to figure out how to explain this rather scary thing - -and chat about all of the stuff that comes with it, like food drives, clothing drives, and the concept of homelessness.
Sadly, this isn't the first time we've had to deal with talking about the scary parts of our world to Kiddo. She was in Kindergarten when the shootings in Newtown occurred, and as they practiced "special drills" at school in the weeks after, we had to field the question of "Why?" She wasn't around for the events of Sept. 11, but my husband and I were...and she encounters its effects everyday when she passes by policemen with semi-automatics in the Times Square subway station. When the anniversary rolls around each year, I wonder if it will be the year we have to finally talk about it.
She's growing up in a world where she will have to always carry with her a bit of the truth that, sometimes, the world is scary, sometimes bad people do bad things (yes, that is a simplified way of saying it, I know). It's a hard fact, and one that I struggle with often -- how do I keep her safe and teach her to be safe, but also make her feel safe in a scary world, where, let's face it, sometimes I am scared too? Thank goodness, when Hurricane Sandy happened, we received lots of info from psychologists and professionals at her school on how to talk to kids.
The main thing I took away from that -- and use even now to gauge how she's handling the world -- is ask her questions, get her talking, as she may be thinking a whole lot in that mega-curious brain of hers, but may not be able to process it all...nor should she be able to at her age. I try to find out what she has heard, what she may be thinking and feeling about it. Talk about it with facts and as much or little detail that you think your child can handle...and always follow up with reassurances (like a gazillion of them) that she is safe, your family is safe, and that Finners the Beta fish is safe too.
How do you tackle all of this? It's a scary world -- how do we keep our kids safe, but not afraid?