unthinkable. again.

Six months ago, I got up early to hide the NYC newspaper headlines before my kids could see them, before they could learn there was evil in the world great enough to harm two innocent children.

Four months ago, on December 15th, I turned off the television and hid the front pages again.

This morning I did it again, with the heaviest of hearts. Another child, eight-year-old Martin Richard, taken away from his parents for reasons that will never make sense to any of us.


As I typed those previous sentences, my ten-year-old looked over my shoulder at Martin’s photograph and asked me who it was.

“A little boy who really loves peace,” I said. How can I tell my sweet son, who cries over spelling tests (for which he knows all the words), about this strange new world that we live in, where children can no longer feel safe?

I don’t mean that I’m avoiding the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings myself. I’ve done nothing all day but look at pictures of Martin, of his family, and reflect on how the unthinkable could possibly have become their new reality. This from the boston.com metro desk:

At the Adams Corner General Store, Dotty Willett, a cousin of the boy’s mother, said that when she first heard the news that a child had died in the explosions, her heart broke to think of the poor family. “Then I found out we were the family,” she said, her voice choked with emotion.

Those of us parenting young children in 2013 can imagine that happening for any of us, all too easily.  David Wheeler, parent of 6-year-old Newtown victim Ben Wheeler, told us just last week:

It’s going to happen again. Every time, it’s somebody else’s school, it’s somebody else’s community, it’s somebody else’s town. Until one day, you wake up and it’s not.

It doesn’t make sense that this could happen, ever. But now it feels like it’s happening all the time.

I know I can’t keep all three of my kids in the same bubble. My five-year-old doesn’t have to know anything about this, and if I have anything to do with it, won’t have to. But that ten-year-old… I knew someone would be talking on the school bus this morning, and I wanted him to have some baseline version of the truth from me first.

“Something bad happened in Boston,” I told him this morning, after not changing the TV channel quickly enough when he entered the kitchen.

Yes, it was a bomb. No, they don’t know who did it. Hopefully they will find out. No, they don’t know why.

The whole time I was telling him, I was trying so hard to hold it together, to not show him how sad and scared I was. But even greater than my fear of scaring him was my fear that this would  fit into his developing world view all too easily. Over at The Broad Side, Joanne Bamberger wrote today about her own daughter’s seemingly nonplussed reaction:

I don’t know how to process the fact that our kids — or, at least, my kid — takes the initial news of a horrific tragedy like the one in Boston as something that is just a matter of course in her life as she knows it.

I couldn’t tell my son who this beautiful eight-year-old child was, and see the devastation on his face. I also couldn’t face the possibility of seeing any sort of acceptance in his eyes, that this is how we live now.

It just can’t be.

Have you told your children about what has happened in Boston? How do their ages affect what you think they should know?

Here are a few ways to support the Richard family- Bill and Denise, and their children Jane and Henry- in the coming days and weeks:

  • send a sympathy card to them c/o St Ann Parish Neponset, 243 Neponset Ave, Dorchester, MA 02122.
  • send a check to The Richard Family Fund, Meetinghouse Bank, 2250 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester Ctr, MA 20124.
  • leave a message of support on this Facebook page.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Leanne Chase April 17, 2013 at 3:35 am

Yes – while we were not in Boston (first time in years) for the marathon, we lived 2 blocks from the finish line until 2 years ago. We now live about a mile from it. Our favorite running store got blown up – we have been in that store countless times. We have watched the “average joe” runners finish from those locations year in and year out. We will need to go to the Boston Public library (across from the blast site) to return books soon. My kid will hear the tales of two of her classmates parents who ran the race when school is back in session next Monday. There is no avoiding this one (much as I’d like to). We are a extremely lucky. We know that. But our lives and our neighborhood will never be quite the same. And we are talking about it. For now just the basic facts. But there will be more, for sure. My child is 7.


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