For the last few weeks, I have been trying to be more “present” for my kids after school. I shut off the computer, turn off all the screens and phones and really try to connect with them and talk about their day. I know, it only took 9 months to do so, but it is never too late is it?
Ask any parent who is grabbing onto their child in Oklahoma today, afraid to let go because of their incredibly close call. Or heaven forbid those parents who lost their beautiful children yesterday without even a warning – without a real good-bye or a hug. The terror, the pain, the anger they are experiencing is so raw that most of us can’t fathom it.
Yesterday, since we didn’t have any social media going on at our house, we didn’t know what was happening in Oklahoma until right before dinner. This is when I allow the girls to turn on the TV so I can prepare something edible and perhaps healthy (Mama ain’t always perfect).
We now have parental locks on the boob-tube since there’s too much crazy on it for a Kindergartner and 1st grader to see; plus my 1st grader (Munchkin #1) has figured out how to DVR programs and delete them and what not, so I know she could be pulling up porn if her wacky sister talked her into it. Hence, the parental lock code.
Munchkin #1 turned on the television and the news with the Oklahoma tornado (2013) devastation appeared in full view. They were talking about the school being leveled and sending in dogs to look for missing children. Excruciating. It only took 5 to 10 seconds for me to get to the channel my kids wanted and to unlock the code, but a lot of visual and audio information had permeated their brains during that time.
I put the show on pause and said, “Did you see that?”
Munchkin #2: Yeah, I have a friend who has relatives in Oklahoma.
Me: Do you think they are okay?
M2: They have a basement. So they are good.
Me to Munchkin #1: What do you think about the tornado? Your friend just came back from Oklahoma this weekend. Do you think she is scared?
M2: I don’t know. But I’ll be real nice to her tomorrow and then ask her if everything is good with her family.
Me: That would be a nice thing to do.
M2: Maybe some of those kids need some of our toys. Should we get a box? (My kids aren’t saints we had just said we were going to fill some boxes of toys for Good Will – but still sweet, right?!)
Me: I’ll help you find one after dinner. You have any other questions?
M1 & M2: Nope.
They continued to watch their cartoon show, and tearfully I worried about the Oklahoma condition while preparing dinner. I wanted to turn on the TV and watch the news to see what had happened, but as a parent, it is my job to protect my children.
Just as those parents in Oklahoma were doing – running through empty fields where schools or houses used to be, screaming out the names of their kids until they had them safely in their arms – I had to protect my girls from the thought that every tornado will do this to them.
Children need to be well-versed in safety measures, and I mean repeat it over and over like a broken record, so when they are in a panicky situation they instinctively know where to go and what to do. Just having these safety talks once is not enough; but also, you need to make sure not to make them afraid, but feel empowered because they know what to do.
I don’t want my girls living in fear that every time it rains, a tornado will come and destroy their school or kill their friends or family. Young grade schoolers aren’t mature enough to process the “big picture.” This is why they must be shielded from the barrage of media footage saturating the airwaves.
All that happens when young children watch sensory beatdown, is they either become immune to it (like it’s a video game) or the other extreme, they walk a fearful and anxiety filled life.
And that instilled fear will take a lifetime to erase.
God Bless you all for reading, for caring and I have put up a link to the American Red Cross on my sidebar. They are always needing blood donors and LOTS of funds, to help this community survive and rebuild.