A Police Officer serving a warrant was shot and the news feed was following the ambulance to the hospital. I took a break to pray for his safety, his family, and to remember that without these public servants, we would all live in complete criminal chaos.
And then, as the questions started filtering in from Katie, my 4 year old, I started to wonder how I should answer them.
The basics were easy.
“Mommy, is that a hospital car?”
“Why is it going so fast?”
“It is taking a man to the hospital.”
And then I knew that the next set of questions would bring up a dilemma I have fought with since becoming a parent. How much of this reality show we call life should I let them see or hear about and what portion of it deserves a real, honest answer, instead of a fluff fib?
“Mommy, why is the man hurt?”
Thinking quickly, not necessarily smartly, I answered her honestly. I told her that a Police Officer was shot with a gun and they were taking him to the hospital so that the Doctors could make him better.
A whole new round of questions began. And those too, I answered honestly.
I don’t know if I should have.
Is she old enough to understand what is happening? Did I just plant ideas in her head that she should not have yet? Will she now ‘play’ like she is shooting her sister and taking her to the hospital?
Or will this just go into her memory bank and recalled next time she sees an ambulance?
It is so hard, this decision of what to share with my kids. Harder than I thought it would be. I do not want to raise kids that are too sheltered, too hovered over, and too coddled and protected. But I also don’t want to scare them unnecessarily, give them ideas before it is time, or cause them to be fearful of life and unknown situations.
But the reality is that no matter how much I try to shield them from the bad of life, they are going to see and hear things that I am going to have to explain. And explain well. In terms that they will have to understand and have to be able to file in the correct place in their memories.
And I am going to have to be OK with that. And pray that the answers come naturally to me.
Or this reality show is going to be a bomb.