Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What the News Teaches Me About Being a Parent

I planned to post something humorous today, but the news out of Oklahoma makes pretty much anything I might write in this post absolutely pointless. All I can think about is another group of young kids who went off to school and never came home. I know it's selfish of me, but I try not to dwell on the horrors the kids at Plaza Towers, and Sandy Hook, and Okawa Elementary School in Tohoku Japan must have faced. My heart breaks for all of the families affected by these tragedies, but when I let myself think about all of the horrible things that could happen to my kids (and that have happened to other people's kids), it's hard to keep moving forward.

It's bad enough to have a kid with a severe peanut allergy who could easily die if someone forgets to be careful or if she decides to sneak food without asking.  It's bad enough to have a kid whose ability to understand what is happening around him and communicate those things to others is impaired. Sending Sky and Pink P to school has always required me to suppress my anxieties and to believe that everything will be okay.  Stories like what happened yesterday make it hard for me to keep believing the lies I tell myself.

They make it hard to even breathe.

Of course, I don't tell my children any of this. Instead, we pray for the families who have been affected and thank God for keeping us safe. We make sure they know where the epipen is and how to call 911 and what to do if someone threatens them or makes them feel uncomfortable. We talk about our emergency plans in case of tornado or fire.

But, on days like today, it all kind of reminds me of the bousai cushion I had to make for Sky when he attended Japanese preschool.** The idea is that the cushion should be worn on the head in case of an earthquake.

And, I'm sure having a cushion is better than not having one, but I'm also pretty sure that in the case of a major earthquake and/or tsunami, the bousai cushion is totally useless. In fact, in my opinion, the only thing bousai cushions are good for is making parents feel a little less anxious about sending their children off to school. And, to be honest, I'm kinda glad the school tried to ease my worries, even if only a little.

Because, in the end, my only choice is to act like today is like any other. Of course, this morning, I prayed a little harder and held my kids a little closer. But, I also took a deep breath and dropped them off at school like I do every morning. After all, all we can do is love them fully and teach them what we know, and then we have to remind ourselves to let them go.

** This is not that cushion. It's one you can buy on the internet at http://store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/roco/bousai-cushion-pnk-s.html. I'm not suggesting you do this, by the way.


Ken said...

It seems to me, that in the event of a natural disaster, the last thing you would need would be a pillow helmet?

It's pretty easy to get consumed by the deluge of instant media that rolls in telling us how many bad things there are out in the world. At the end of the day, there will alway be infinitely more kids who make it home from the park safely or walk away from a bicycle crash with nothing more that need of a band-aid. All we can really do is the best we can and let the chips fall where they may.

Mom on the Edge said...

So true.

At least the cushions make for comfy seating.

Unknown said...

With all the horrible things that are happening in the world today, it's in every parent to worry about their kids especially when they are not in sight. But no matter what we do, it's a very sad fact that we cannot protect them at all times and we have no choice but to accept that. All we can do is to hope, pray, and trust in the Lord everyday to still see them okay at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ken.

We have such easy access to the news today that it tends to blow our view of reality a bit out of proportion. I am actually from Oklahoma. When a tornado tore through the same area and killed several people in 1999, I don't remember the media reaction being anything like it was this time around. CNN had live ongoing coverage from OK all day yesterday and they even had Anderson Cooper reporting in front of the debris. My mother is a teacher in the state and is growing depressed. There's only so many times you can see pictures of children being pulled from the rubble before you start to lose it a bit.

Anyway, I think it's perfectly fine to distance yourself from the media circus that rallies around every tragic event or disaster. Keep yourself informed, yet sane!

I would opt for a bike helmet instead of a bousai. I always thought those were strange. But, I like your explanation about how they make the parents feel safe. Makes sense.


Mom on the Edge said...

I agree with all of you. The only trouble is the peanut allergy and the ASD that definitely gives me a heightened sense of danger that I work to suppress on a daily basis. Mainstream media certainly doesn't help me.

Fortunately, I learned quite early that I was not really in control as a parent when a 3 year-old Sky (pre-diagnosis) darted across the street before I could even react. In that moment, I knew that I could teach them everything I know and they will still make their own, sometimes detrimental, choices.