When I was growing up my father watched the 6:00 news every night. Maybe I have a naturally anxious disposition, but my limited understanding of the Cold War, various shootings, bombings, ethnic cleansing, kidnappings, AIDS, and weather calamities had me pretty certain we were all going to die, probably gruesomely and pretty soon.
Thanks to DVR, my children are blissfully sheltered from so much of the world’s ugliness. While I’m happy to get most of my news from Jon Stewart and Facebook, my husband and I usually watch the evening news after the kids are in bed. I think Luke would somewhat understand the current events unfolding on the news were he to see it, but Sally sees everything through her three-year-old lens of magic, pixie dust, and wonderful love rainbow tea parties.
The other night Sally came downstairs after bedtime with some ailment or another, it’s always something. I let her sit on my lap for a few minutes while we watched the news, because my husband and I had a sudden, silent standoff about who would bring her back upstairs. (I won.)
So, for the first time in her life, she watched the news.
She saw: South Korean soldiers dressed in camouflage fatigues patrolling the border.
Her interpretation: Haha! Look at those funny men. They’re all dressed up like cows. That’s funny that they’re all dressed up as cows. Silly men, dressed as cows.
She saw: South Korean soldiers peering at their North Korean counterparts, mere yards away, through the telescopic lenses of their deadly rifles.
Her interpretation: Look! That one is dressed up like a cow and pretending he’s a pirate.
She saw: Missiles launched into the sky with lethal potential.
Her interpretation: Oooh! Rocket ships!
She went to sleep that night with visions of rocket ships and cow-men playing pirate.
I’d like to keep her in this peaceful safety bubble forever, but the world is against me in this. All too soon she’ll be aware of war, of murderous madmen killing children, of rape and violence and sickness and all the other things that occupy the thoughts of this anxious mother while I lay awake at night, hoping against tragedy.