Typically when I have a day off, I do not listen to the radio or watch television. After seeing a few cryptic Facebook posts about the Boston Marathon, I decided to make an exception. I first went to CNN’s website to find out exactly what happened, then turned on the television.
I told my son that I wanted to watch the news for a few minutes before I helped him get ready for his evening shower. Together, we watched the sports segment on our local news. It showed many of the runners at the beginning of the race. “So many runners!” my son exclaimed. “Are you in that race, Mom?” I said no and explained that the race happened today in Boston. (We went to Boston last fall so he has some kind of familiarity with it, although not a lot.)
When the national news came on, I asked my son to sit on my good leg—I just wanted to keep him close. We watched for a few minutes, heard the basic facts, saw so many horrific images in just those 180 seconds we watched. My son repeated nearly everything he heard….”there were three bombs….two went off….dozens of people hurt…body parts everywhere…” The only question he asked was why. Neither my husband nor I had an answer. We just said we didn’t know.
In those three minutes of television, I squeezed my son and tried, unsuccessfully, not to cry. He told me I shouldn’t watch anymore. I agreed and we headed to the bathroom to get him get cleaned up and ready for bed. On the way, my nearly 6-year-old little boy takes his right arm out of his sleeve and says, “I was in a race and lost my arm.” I didn’t know what to say, so I just let him ramble and pretend play while he slowly got undressed.
Once Bri was in the shower, I stayed in the bathroom while he talked to me. “Is the news still on, Mom?” I told him it would be over by the time he got out of the shower. “I never want to watch the news again!” he shouted.
For the last hour before bedtime, we didn’t talk about the race or the bombing or the news. Instead we focused on reading books, sounding out new words, and Briar wondered if he would catch a glimpse of the tooth fairy tonight as she placed something beneath his pillow. I can only hope that my boy will have no recollection tomorrow of a race with bombs and bleeding people, but tonight will have sweet dreams of fairies or flying cupcakes or walking on the moon.
Let him have these dreams for a little longer.
As a parent, I often feel completely inadequate and continue to make mistakes every single day. Perhaps letting him watch the news tonight was one of them. I just hope I am fortunate enough to have many more years with my son to try and get it right.