When Tragedy Strikes

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A couple of years ago, news broke of a tragic shooting in Colorado. Saddened and distraught, I started looking for resources aimed at parents, like myself, who were searching for ways to help their kids process the news of this unthinkable event. So I searched. And I found a few good resources and put them together in a short post.

Then the next tragedy struck. So, again, I searched and I added a few more resources to the list. Then the next… and the next. In fact, every time news of a shooting in our country has occurred, more and more resources have become available and the list in this post has become longer and longer.

While it is wonderful that there are so many great articles, books, and videos available to parents, the length of this list pains me. Each time I revisit this post I find myself confronted by the ugly thought that perhaps one day I will apathetically skim past these breaking news stories and choose to no longer add to this list out of a sense of complete hopelessness. What other tragedies, I wonder, do I already neglect to make lists for, neglect to help my children process, forgetting that they may see my indifference as acceptance?  Most of all, I wonder if the world will allow my children’s hearts will be soft enough to feel the sting of senseless violence or if they will grow to no longer take pause if they continue to be surrounded by stories of children being murdered in their own backyards.

And so, I offer this list to you again, but this time with the recognition that our job is not to help our children become immune to the sadness of tragedy. Instead, let us help them feel secure with them knowledge that they are loved and cherished; let us model for them a reverence for life, and open their eyes wide to injustice, and also remind them to look for the heroes who bring us hope.

Tragedy calls us to show our children that we can and do work together for goodness and peace in our world and that there is so much power in even the smallest acts of kindness and love.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

 

Send me your suggestions for books, videos, resources, and other tips that you would like to share on this topic by emailing uuathome@gmail.com or add a comment below.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Stopping to smell the roses

It is funny how children can speed up and slow down your life all at the same time.

There are days that I scarcely remember; a blur of tasks: Get the kids up and clothed, fed and cleaned, out the door and in the car, back home, settled down and snuggled, read to and asleep. Before you know it, you are passed out on the couch (nursing that foot you injured stepping on those stinking toys) wondering where the heck your day went.

And then there are the days when you are forced to slow it down; your daily flight into “to-do list land” grounded, plans derailed, and to make it worse, there is usually puke involved. Or, perhaps, I should speak for myself.

Oddly enough it is on these days, when my time is spent sitting on the couch, snuggling with my sick kid, that I wonder why it is that I am so inclined to wait until I have endured a toy-inflicted injury to spend some time crashed on my couch. It is nice when there is a chance to slow it down… just for the sake of slowing it down. No puke involved.

I think that my daughter has made it her life’s mission to remind us to take it down a notch; this is a child who, from the time she was born, has always moved at her own pace. Sometimes to our greatest frustration. Shortly after she started to walk, we discovered that the days of moving our bodies from point A to point B in a timely fashion was a thing of the past. We no longer walk somewhere; we go on adventures.

I am convinced that if you were to research the origins of the phrase “stop and smell the roses,” that you would undoubtedly find a picture of my daughter with this caption underneath: “Flowers, bugs, small creatures, leaves, trees, and pine-cones be warned: if you see this child, you WILL be smelled, talked to, SUNG to, touched, picked up, hugged and collected. And parents, you WILL be late. You just WILL.  Go with it. *See related phrase: ‘Moving at the speed of Alex.'”

Even though there are times when I wish she would get in the car so we can JUST LEAVE ALREADY, in my heart of hearts I adore this about my daughter. Time and to-do list be damned, there is nothing more beautiful than watching the awe and wonder in the eyes of a child who is experiencing the magnificence of our earth with her whole self. I have truly never met a single soul who so naturally live and breathes her connectedness to all of existence.

She takes the time to notice what everyone in the room is wearing, and wonders why. She feels the wind on her face and wants to know where it came from. She remembers the exact rock to look under to check up on her favorite hill of ants, asks them how they are doing and what it is, exactly, they eat.

I would be heartbroken if this child, this insipiring being full of love, imagination and compassion, no longer found meaning in the beauty and wonder of all that surrounds her because I taught her that meaning can only be found in crossing stuff off a list and in racing the clock. She makes me wonder how much of my world I am missing out on while I am counting down the seconds until I HAVE to be out the door or when I am hyper-focused on reaching my destination.

What would happen if the rest of the world took a little time to “move at the speed of Alex”? Perhaps my daughter could teach us all a thing or two about embracing the journey and soaking in the beauty that surrounds us instead of anticipating the destination. I am finding that the roses along the way have quite a bit to teach me… almost as much as the three-year old by my side.