How do we talk about tragedy with our toddlers?

 

I can't explain the tragic state of our country to my two small toddlers, but I can turn these current events into teachable moments for our entire family. 

I can act as an example of graciousness and generosity, having them sit with me as I donate blood tomorrow for the victims of Las Vegas. I won't shield them from needles and blood but have them witness just one small way we can help by giving of ourselves to those in need. 

They can help me go through our closets and find our best items - those things hanging new with tags- and box them up to donate to the hurricane victims who lost everything. We can go to Walmart to pickup the items needed most like tampons, socks and underwear. We can do with less, and provide more.

With tears in my eyes, together we will collect all of our hotel toiletries from our many stays, discuss the joy of shared experience, and recall that not everyone has the blessing of travel and some may find a simple hot shower the escape from reality they need to make it through another week. 

As we eat our lunch and I wonder about the world we are living in, we can make cards that share the contagious hopefullness of their toddler innocence for those who have faced moments of despair that only months ago seemed unimaginable. We can put stamps on them and mail them to redcross volunteers who are leading us through the darkness. 

With full bellies we can dance out our sillies before naptime, simply being present together, without judgement. 

At school we will provide gratitude for the teachers who care not only how these little minds progress with their ABCs and 123s but how they play and treat others who may look, sound, or seem a bit different. Teachers who act as role models and tirelessly mold the hopes for our future. 

We will spend our afternoon walking home slowly together so we can appreciate each flower, the clean air and cool Fall breeze, and remain in awe of Mother Nature whose beauty is abundant despite the beastly nature of hurricane season this year. We stroll hand-in-hand as we know we never need to walk alone in our journey- big or small, tragic or mundane.

Before we shut off our lights, we will sneak a look at pictures of mommy & daddy getting engaged in Puerto Rico - and be thankful that we have lights to turn on in the morning, power to fuel our refrigerator, and access to modern conveniences we never imagined members of this American family would live without in 2017. 

And finally, as we lay our heads upon our pillows, we will tirelessly pray each and every night, "God Bless America, Land That I Love. Stand Beside Her, and Guide Her." God, we need your guidance now more than ever. Please stand beside us.

I won't talk about hatred, guns or death with my 1 and 3 year old little girls. I don't envy those of you with older children who have to navigate these delicate conversations. 

When the daybreaks, I hope to teach my girls about heroism, gratitude and perseverance though both prayer and action. 

In reality, it is I that have learned from their innocence, hopefulness, and willingness to find love in every moment and tomorrow I vow to practice what they have taught me, letting my actions speak volumes for the tragedy I can't put words to. Love is a language we all understand at any age.

Hug your littles tightly, America, let's learn from the future generation together so history stops repeating itself. And if you have any other ideas on how we can talk to toddlers about the world we face today, please share. I am listening..