Monday, February 2, 2015

Innocence Project

Lately, I have been listening to Serial like the rest of the world did a few months ago. My husband and I started it together but after a few nights of listening he lost interest. I had to hear the rest of the episodes but haven't had much time since I am limited to times when my kids are not awake, or my husband and I aren't watching something else on T.V. I am learning to squeeze in listens on headphones at odd times. When I am making lunch for my daughter, cooking, and getting ready for bed. I figured out that if I turn it up loud enough I can hear it while using my electric toothbrush. Thats two minutes right there.

I sometimes question, what would be ok for my son at two and half, could hear since he only understands so much. I can still play talk radio in the car for short periods of times because I think most of it goes over his head. I thought about listening to Serial with him around but I am not willing to take a chance that he absorbs any violence, plus he wouldn't let me enjoy it. The window has closed for my daughter to listen without understanding. She picks up on a lot these days, and has a lot of questions which brings me to how innocent she actually is right now.

At six and half, she can understand a lot. She has pretty deep conversations with us and there are quite a few things in the world around her that aren't pretty that she is aware of. I realize though how much is kept from her too. She knows a lot about the sad in the world but very little about the bad. She sees her fair share of homeless people and knows that they don't have a place to go at night that is warm, and that they are likely hungry. She is thoughtful, sensitive and giving when people are needy around her and often encourages us to share food or money when we can. She knows a bit about natural disasters and what has happened to people when disaster strikes. She knows about Martin Luther King and knows that racism existed before he came and fixed it all. She doesn't know it still exists. She knows sometimes life isn't fair and that people don't always get what they want. Well, maybe that last one is a work in progress, but she understands it to be true at least.

She doesn't know about hate crimes, school shootings, suicide bombers, 911, the holocaust, Bosnia, Rwanda, the KKK, Skinheads, ISIS, and many many more. This past week when terrorists walked into a meeting at Charlie Hebdo and murdered a room full of satirical cartoonists it was all over the news. Saturday when I took the paper out to read she sat down next to me. Her love of reading is amazing to us and opens her up to the world. Most of the time this is great, but this time, I wanted to keep her sheltered. The front cover showed a picture of a fire caused during the aftermath reactions and during the hostage situation. She began to read the headline and I insinctvly pulled away the paper. I gave her the real estate section with pictures and asked her to look for a house. She didn't want to play along -- she wanted to know about the fire. Like most humans, she was attracted to the taboo shocking stuff. I somehow deterred her, but soon enough she will learn and she will know.

Our little boy likes foxes. He can't pronounce the x sound though so he says "fuck" which is hilarious to us of course. Twig will laugh along and also repeat it, which already sound more disturbing coming from her mouth than his. She is of the age where some of her peers are aware of curse words, again she is still innocent in this department, and again not for long. I clearly remember learning about some of the violent acts that took place in our history. I remember specifically seeing pictures of lynchings in the south and also when I watched footage from the holocaust. I remember sitting with my dad and the weight of it shocking me. I remember standing up because it was to much to bear sitting down. I asked him repeatedly as I watched thin naked bodies being buried in piles, how could anyone have let this happen. How did it get so far?  At times my ignorance today isn't that far from my daughter's, because if we walk around thinking things like the holocaust don't still exist than we are all in the dark.

I pray that the world grows more peaceful as my children grow up but history shows that the world as beautiful as it is has some awful dark sides too. None of us truly know how to make it better, but we do what we can and try. For now, when I go in to kiss my girl goodnight I have to pause the Serial coming in to my head until I walk back out again. I want her to remain innocent as long as possible. Once she learned all of this, the world will always look different to her. What she will do with this awareness will be interesting to see, but I am going to keep that at bay as long as I can.


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