“Mom, did some police officers die?”
Her question caught me off-guard as I rummaged through my purse. I looked up at the same time as another woman sitting in the waiting area at the hair salon did.
I could feel both sets of eyes – my daughter’s and the woman’s – fixed on me as I opened my mouth to answer.
“Yes, sadly three of them did honey. They died protecting the people and the community where they live.”
I looked at her to see if my answer would prompt any additional questions. It didn’t seem like it so I went back to trying to find what I was looking for in my purse.
“Were they shot?”
I tried to hide my surprise as I looked up again. What was prompting these questions? The waiting room was silent and we had not exposed the kids to anything going on in Moncton over the past week. As I glanced around the room quickly I noticed a pile of newspapers on the bench about a foot away from her. Suddenly it clicked – our seven-year-old was reading the front page story in the Globe & Mail.
“Yes, it’s very sad. They were all shot by the same bad guy. Their friends from work and many other police officers worked very hard and caught him so he’s in jail now and can’t hurt anyone else.”
In a stroke of luck, her name was called for her hair appointment and her focus quickly shifted to how many inches she wanted cut off and whether she could have it curled before she left.
As I sat and watched her through the appointment, my head was spinning. Up until very recently she was only reading in French. I’d never really thought about everything she would be exposed to now that she’s taken an interest in English reading and has basically taught herself to do it. We’ve made it through many scary world things up until now – Boston bombings, Flight 370, Kenyan Mall attack – without really having to prep ourselves for conversations with the kids. Now that she can read – it’s a whole new ballgame. Headlines are everywhere – it’s not as simple as just not turning on the news.
My eyes have suddenly opened to all of the messages she is now being bombarded with. In the five minutes it takes to check out at the grocery store, she’s now reading magazine headlines about so-and-so cheating on so-and-so, someone losing 50 pounds with a pill and someone being pregnant with someone else’s baby. I looked at the racks yesterday through the eyes of a child who is seeing it all for the first time and it was completely overwhelming. As adults we know to filter it out – our kids are taking everything in at face value.
There’s no shielding her from it – it’s now about having the right age-appropriate answers to questions, slowly teaching her to be media savvy and limiting unnecessary exposure (as an example, I still had an old Sandy Hook shooting People magazine hanging around).
It’s amazing eh? Just when you think you’re done with the child-proofing years they come right back at you in a slightly different way. Everything truly does come full circle.
Deanna is a Mom of three, wife, marketer and blogger – lover of travel, morning coffee, family time, belly laughs, good friends and uninterrupted showers! Follow her on twitter @DeannaCMiller