April 15, 2013

Monday, April 15 was anything but normal,  but as it goes with those who don’t live in the center of the abnormal but have small, current-event-oblivious-children, it was totally normal in Sluiter Nation.

We worked. We had daycare. We had a rampant case of the Mondays.  We came home and tripped over each other while dinner was  made.  It was…typical.

Cort was in the kitchen making chicken. I was trying to occupy Charlie so he didn’t turn into a hungry dictator before dinner was ready and Eddie was playing on the computer busy writing his “stories”.

The news was on because obviously.

We never thought about the news being on.  It is always on this time of day.  Charlie has never cared about TV and Eddie has lately been having his screen time while dinner is prepared, so the news is on because it’s not a kid show, but it’s also not something that will slip foul language.  It seemed neutral.

Until Monday, April 15.

“Mom, what is that ‘splosion?” he asked over my shoulder.

I turned to see Eddie looking intently at the TV coverage with a puzzled face. “Did someone drop a bomb? Did those people running get hurt?  Are they helping people?  Did someone go to Heaven?”

The questions came fast, but calmly. He sat next to me on the floor never taking his eyes off the TV that I was willing to just shut off by itself.

It didn’t and even though I felt like a total mom fail for allowing him to see this sort of tragedy, I tried to explain.

“Yes, buddy. It looks like someone let a bomb explode by all those people who were running a race. And yes, it hurt people. And yes, some of them died and went to Heaven. And YES, those people you see running? Are trying to help the hurt people.”

“That’s good. We need people to help people.”

And then he went back to what he was doing.

Dinner was soon ready and the local news had moved on to weather and sports and less heavy topics.  Eddie brought up the ‘splosion a couple more times, but didn’t seem scared or fearful.  In fact, knowing that people were helping people seemed to be what was most important to him.  That and that those who died went to Heaven with God and his Papa and his cat.

He is three.

He brings up death a lot, but not in a fearful or worried way.  He seems to just want to know about it.

And because communication is important to Cort and me, we encourage our boys (well, Eddie right now), to ask us anything at all that they may be thinking about.  This has come in the form of how seeds grow to why plants and trees die to why girls have a vagina and not a penis.

Someone recently asked me if Eddie is in the “why” stage.  I guess yes and no, but he mostly makes observations and then asks “what? where? when? how? who? and why?”  He asks all of them

I don’t feel like I spend a ton of time answering just “why?”  We mostly have conversations.

On Monday he didn’t ask why someone would bomb other people, but when we were having the conversation about it Cort and I did say the bomb hurt lots of people and to us, it seemed like a really awful thing to do to someone else.

Eddie agreed, “yeah, because hurting people is so so SO mean, right guys?”

Right, bud.

So maybe I am a mom fail for letting my son see the news, and we did our best to limit it the rest of the week.  But in the end, he felt comfortable talking with us about it and wasn’t afraid or worrisome.

I’m not sure that I could call it the right thing or claim some parenting strategy here, but I will say that his reaction to the whole thing helped me know we are doing something right with our parenting.

He asked questions, he told us what he thought, and we had a conversation that left him satisfied, but not afraid.

I’m still sorry that he saw it and that he now knows about that level of evil, but I’m proud of him for asking questions and responding the way he did.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. I think in this case, for his age, it was the best scenario. That he’s aware, he asked, and you answered. That’s good stuff right there.

    • And really, looking back, I am not as upset that he knows about it. Although I am very glad he didn’t see the graphic images that came out right away. I don’t need that burned into his brain, ya know?

  2. I agree you did the right thing. You gave him answers that were simple and to the point, you showed him all the good people and minimized the bad ones. Not that you minimized the tragedy itself but the fact that despite the tragedy good still overcame and showed up and showed out.

    • You know, reading these comments makes me realize I’m not as upset about him knowing about it as I thought. I am relieved he didn’t see any of the graphic images, but it was a good way for him to exercise his communication and asking skills with us.

  3. I don’t think it was a Mom fail at all. My parents had the news (and t.v.) on ALL the time when I was growing up and I was never scarred too badly by anything. I do remember the first big news story that REALLY affected me was when The Challenger exploded, partly because we watched it happen live, while in my classroom. Ugh.

    Anyway, you did good with talking to him about it. It’s hard to explain to kids when you cannot even wrap your own brain around it…

    • I remember the Challenger exploding too. It was horrifying but looking back I realized it was hard for me to fully process at that age too, ya know? I will say I am glad Eddie didn’t see anything graphic. That is a legit concern these days with the news. But I don’t think having the news on as a bad thing since he hears Cort and I discussing current events ALL the time–which in the long run, I think will be positive.

  4. I don’t think it’s a mom fail, I think you handled it very well. I handled it in a very similar way with my son, also 3. He saw it on the news and we talked about it.
    I really don’t agree with the mom “experts” who say to shelter all things like this from our kids.
    Sure, they shouldn’t see the graphic pictures, but I do think they should be aware, on basic terms, of what happening in our world and that good and bad and love and hate and life and death exist.
    Like you, I want my son to always talk to me, about everything. And I think that starts now.
    You are a great mom.

    • You know, I don’t agree with the “experts” either. Our kids hear Cort and I talk about current events every day during dinner. I do worry that having the news on will expose him to the graphic images, but that is usually not the case. If we have the news on, we are pretty good about paying attention to the images.

      And thanks for your encouraging words, Julia 🙂

  5. I don’t think this was a mom fail at all. It happens, we try to shelter kids but can’t always. I think you handled this beautifully.