Trying to make sense of it all.

My daughter and I went shopping today, and as we’re both introverts we got overwhelmed after a while.  I stopped in a nail salon I’ve been to before and got us both pedicures, and while we were waiting for our toenails to dry (hers purple with white-petaled flowers and mine a glorious dark metallic red) I was talking with the salon owner about the Connecticut shootings and the news.  His daughter was there too, maybe a year older than mine, and she said that she’s scared to go to school now.   She was trying to make sense of things and wanted to know why.

I explained that it’s okay to be scared, but we can’t let that make us hide away because then the evil ones out there will be running the world. That as much evil as there is, there is also good. Her school and house are in range of fire stations 13 and 18, and I told her that I know personally that there are people there who are very good at protecting and saving lives and love doing it. That the reason this is all over the news is because it is so rare, though it is better to be prepared; that if anything ever does happen, stay calm and think things through and panic only once you’re safe. That we can’t let evil force us into hiding.  That yes, there are bad people out there… but there are also good ones, so in things like this look for the ones who are helping — the EMTs and firefighters, the police, the teachers who did their best to keep the children safe.  They exist, and they will help protect.

She wanted to know what was going on and looked up things in the news; I asked her if reading about what happened was going to help or make it worse, if she really wanted to know details.  She thought about it, then nodded.  I told her that we may never understand, but that knowing what happened can help us make a kind of sense of it and be prepared if anything happens again.  That there is evil, but there is also good; we just don’t see the good ones who balance the evil ones, generally, until the evil gets out of hand.

She also asked me why people steal money; she said she understood the difference between stealing and shooting, but why would people steal money?  I tried to explain that one, that sometimes people need money to get food and things to take care of someone but don’t know any better way to get it.  And sometimes, unfortunately more often, it’s because people think they need something, like drugs or other things, and their heads get messed up and they steal money to get these things that they don’t actually need.  She asked what drugs were, and I said “Something I hope you never encounter.  They’ll mess you up badly.”  She accepted my explanation and we went back to sorting out CT.
It seemed to help. I hope it did.  Her head was higher and she seemed to have some resolve in her back.

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