watching the news with your kids

I don’t do it, as a rule. In New York City, you can get the weather every ten minutes “on the ones” on the local news channel; I flick it on to check what time it’s going to start raining (since it seems to be raining pretty much every day), and then quickly off again before the cable box switches to :02 and the anchor moves on to the latest double stabbing on Staten Island. 

Yesterday, though, as 7-year-old Connor and I stood waiting for the city bus to take us home (in the rain), he asked me if I’d heard anything about some miners from Chile.

“Have you?” I asked, surprised. Turns out his classmate, whose parents are from Chile, had been talking up the exciting rescue of the 33 miners during playdeck time.

“Tell me about it,” Connor said. “I want to know everything.”

So I told him everything I knew, like how one miner’s wife was pregnant, and he thought he’d never see the baby, and they only had a spoonful of tuna every other day for three weeks, and when he came out this man got down on his knees and prayed.

Turns out Connor had more second-grade type questions: Who gave them those sunglasses? When people were putting stuff in the tiny tunnel to send them, did anyone send some gum? Did they poop in the same place as they peeped?(That, you must admit, is a good question.)

We stood there talking for twenty minutes, in the rain, with the bus not coming, at which point we gave up and walked a mile home since we were wet anyhow. We talked the whole way about the miners, and how everyone thought they’d fight a lot and be mean to each other but they really didn’t, and how maybe other people aren’t as bad as we sometimes think they are.
It was a great conversation, and it made me realize that Connor is ready to understand more about the world, to discuss current events and what he thinks about them.

To a point, that is. How can I control the news he hears, so it’s about rescued miners and the triumph of the human spirit, and not hate crimes, and pedophiles roaming city schools? How do I expand his intelligence while maintaining his innocence just a little while longer?

I’m thinking about it.  Did you discuss the miners’ story (or any other recent news event) with your kids? Do you let them watch the news? What works for you?