This morning when I dropped Juliana off at carpool she made a comment about how there is a police officer at her school all the time. I have also seen the officer every morning and afternoon. I have waited for him to blow his whistle for the cars to open their doors and let the kids out into the area that he stands protecting. I nodded to her and explained that the police officer is there to assist with carpool.
She looked at me and said, “No mama, he is there the whole day. Why does he stay at the school all day?” Without a second thought I said “to keep the kids and teachers safe”. No sooner then I said it I closed my eyes. I knew what she was going to say next.
“Why wouldn’t we be safe at school?”
I felt my eyes fill with tears for the 100th time this week. How do I begin to explain to her? How do I tell my innocent, five year old daughter that there is evil in the world. That bad people do bad things. That the police man is there to protect them from anything and anyone he feels may harm them.
If you’ve followed me for a while you will know that I don’t sugar coat things for Juliana. I explain them in a way that she can understand them. But this morning in the car I sat silent. How do I explain the evil without creating fear inside her. I understand that in today’s world we need to be aware but for gods sake these are our children. Our babies! They are small and pure and while they know the difference between good and bad they don’t fully comprehend how bad the bad is. They can’t possibly comprehend it.
And I don’t want to break it to her.
I don’t want to have to explain to her why I don’t like to go to a movie theater. How the thought of sitting in a dark room with strangers frightens the hell out of me. I don’t want her knowing that when we are in the back aisle of the drug store picking up baby wipes I have mentally planned our best escape, god forbid we need to get out of there. She doesn’t need to know that I side eye every single stranger we pass on the street. Regardless of age, race or gender.
Because evil comes in all shapes and sizes.
It was my turn to pull the car up. I glanced back in the rear view mirror and saw her eagerly looking out the window. Her question left forgotten. She may have distractedly moved on but her words hung thick in the air. The whistle blew and she flew out of her seat. She hopped out of the car and started walking to the sidewalk. A quick glance back with a big smile and wave and she was off to start her day.
And while I know this conversation is not over, that one night as she’s falling asleep she will remember that I never answered, I am grateful for today’s interruption. I am grateful for the opportunity to plan my response. To think hard about the words I use as I know my daughter will take every word to heart and not soon forget my answer. I am grateful that today my pure, innocent, five year old gets to head into her new class without a fear in the world. While I know I won’t be there to protect her every day of her life I am grateful to have spared her the fear of evil this morning.
And PS. I am incredibly thankful for the police officers and all the teachers and staff members at our schools that keep our children safe when we aren’t there to do so.
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Have you had these conversations with your young children? I’d love to hear some of your responses in the comments section. Let us moms unite as we raise our babies against all the world’s evils. xo