“Mommy, who is bin Laden and why is he killed?”

Translation: “Mommy, did you forget that I can hear NPR as well as  you can? That every morning, every evening, and every time we get in the car these last few days you’ve had it on? That they repeat ‘kill’ and ‘bin Laden’ over and over and over, just like my favorite songs do?”

Honestly, no, I hadn’t realized how much she was picking up, although I know full well that she has amazing recall, especially with information that is repeated and repeated and repeated.

We’re only now really broaching ‘stranger danger’ with her, and I know we’re behind with this, lulled into false sense of security because she’s rarely out of sight. It’s true, too, that I tend to see the world through her eyes, and to her, everything is candy colored and everyone is a friend.

Her question shocked me into realizing that not only is this very, very wrong, but it’s very, very dangerous.

We talked a lot today. I explained that bin Laden was a bad man, who hurt many people. I told her that he’d been hiding instead of accepting his punishment. That he was killed in a fight with soldiers who were taking him to jail because he hurt people.

I have no idea where on the scale of idiotic answers that one lands. It was extemporaneous.

But I was most, most, most careful to explain that this all took place far, far away. That she is safe. Bad people are scary, but moms and dads and teachers and policemen keep bad people away.

As much as I wish the world didn’t have any bad people in it, it’s my job to accept that it does and to help her deal with this truth. Fundamentally, my little girl has no sense of personal danger; she’ll walk up to anyone, accept anything, share everything. And it breaks my heart to have to dispel this notion, at least in part because it still breaks my heart that the world is not exactly as she wants it to be.

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Published in: on May 3, 2011 at 8:18 PM  Leave a Comment  

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