The morning after…
After another terrible news reality hits another school, a different town, a different state altogether . . . I can’t hide behind a feeling that it won’t happen to us. It’s not unimaginable.
I can very much imagine it — vividly.
And I feel it . . . even though it hasn’t happened to my own little family. I still feel it.
Not only the empathy for others hurting, but I feel the possibility of it hitting us. And it wrecks me. I try to keep that wrecking hidden from my kids.
Last night I decided my eight-year-old needed to be clued in to a very terrible news event for the first time in his life. I can no longer shelter him, as he’s old enough that he may hear the news from his peers at school this time.
I told him in simple words about what happened at another school in our country. And I assured him that he’s safe. He’s safe at his school. And he feels safe. I agreed and let him believe what he says about his school having “maximum security.”
Rationally, I trust the security measures my son’s school has already been taking. But irrationally, I still hold fear in my own heart, quietly raging. But, is it even irrational to do so at this point?
Later in the night, I cried myself to sleep — needing to release my tears of stinging fear as my kids slept curled up in their beds . . . my mind dreading the next morning’s school drop-offs.
This morning after tragedy . . . I dropped my son off at his school — reminding myself to breathe calmly in the car. I put on my brave face and tried to appear as if it’s just another school day for my son. Just another safe school day. We’re safe. He’s safe.
I need him to feel a sense of safety in this ever cruel world. But it feels like I have to trick myself into feeling it for him.
A half-hour later, I’m in my room gathering my clothes for the day. I hear police sirens.
My breath catches. I hear my own heart beating. My world halts.
I listen for more sirens. My mind panics and wrestles with itself to calm.
The sirens stop. I breathe. Remember to breathe. He’s safe. We’re safe. But how long will this go on? It feels so unfair that we’re raising our kids in these days.
I don’t have any new, profound wisdom to share. There’s no way to put a bow on situations like this. But I will share a couple of resources from a therapist and child development experts on how to talk to our kids about scary news. I hope these help, and I hope you know you’re not alone in this secondary trauma we’re feeling.