I will not describe the brutality of Marathon Monday, or discuss any of the grim details. Lord knows, you can find enough of that by turning on your TV, computer, or radio. Instead, I'll share my thoughts on good guys vs. bad guys, with a huge emphasis on good guys, and offer an activity I think might help your kids feel a little bit safer this week.
A brief word on the bad guys: I wish I shared the belief that things will be better once we get to the bottom of who did this and why. I keep seeing messages in the media that justice will be served once we find the villain(s). We’ll get the bad guys and give them what they deserve. I personally don’t find this to be helpful, although it certainly needs to get done. Whether it’s a domestic person with crazy thoughts or a foreign terrorist with a political agenda…I’m not sure it matters. What happened was horrific, and the news of a capture can’t ease what happened to the victims and their loved ones; or the fear and chaos we all experienced on Monday; or the sorrow that once again we have to try to explain to our children (and ourselves) that the world really is a safe place. So by all means, find the bad guy(s); I just don’t believe it will repair me much emotionally.
What does help me is the sun shining this week and focusing to the best of my abilities on all of the amazing generosity of spirit showcased this week: runners who ran to hospitals after the marathon to donate blood for the victims; strangers who brought coats and Gatorade to runners who (thankfully) got stopped before getting to the finish line; offers from locals for runners to stay at their homes until travel plans got resolved; people (and not just first responders) running INTO the explosion to help the injured. And then there is all the love that is not only felt but expressed to one another after something of this magnitude.
Here's something else I've been thinking about: Last week, I taught a writing workshop for my daughter’s third-grade class about superheroes. I had each child in the classroom create his/her own superhero, describing the alter-ego (everyday personality, like Clark Kent) and then the superpower. The superheroes they came up with were hilarious and surprising and fantastic—everything from “Super-shoe” (which runs at lightning speed to the scene of a crime to help) to “The Eraser” (which erases the evil thoughts in the brain of villains). What I love so much about this exercise is that each child came up with a symbol of protection from their own minds that made them feel safe. I'm sharing how I led the lesson in case it's something you would like to do with your child this week.
My first step was having kids don an invisible Superwriter costume: boots (for stomping through one's imagination; goggles (for seeing ideas with clarity); and a cape (for protection from anyone else's judgmental thoughts). If you're home with your child for school vacation this week, you could even have your child create a Superwriter costume (see pic above).
Next, I had each child describe on paper (in a list, not an essay) in plenty of detail the alter ego and superhero qualities that their character possesses that helps make the world safer. Afterwards, I told the kids that if they chose to share their superhero with the rest of the class, they would get super-snaps from each one of us for being courageous enough to share their ideas. Needless to say, every kid shared their idea. Who doesn't love receiving super-snaps, right? Note: It's important not to get swept up in the fun and try to add to your child's character or offer suggestions - it belongs solely to your child.
Perhaps follow the activity by talking about the real heroes we are surrounded by everyday—and who we witnessed in their full glory on Monday right here in our state if you too live in Massachusetts. It is up to you which acts of heroism you feel are appropriate for your child to know. There will continue be bad guys in the world but there are millions more heroes walking around all over the place in their alter-ego disguises keeping the world safe and good.
I am a journalist, filmmaker, author, wife, and mom to an 8-year-old daughter. My most recent project is I Love Mondays: And other confessions from devoted working moms. Other projects explore raising only children, happily ever after, raising strong girls, and hot topics for Jewish women.
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