Breaking the news

“Mum, has anything really bad ever happened to you?”
Master Seven and I were out for an evening walk when he sprang that ever so serious question on me.
He’d been doing that a bit lately.
I wasn’t sure if it meant he was a particularly solemn boy or if it was just part and parcel of being a seven year old.
I wondered what he meant by ‘bad’?
He’d recently told his Nanna he couldn’t stop thinking about a baby that had been thrown from a bridge by its own mother.
I vaguely remembered the news item on TV but couldn’t remember him being there when it was on.
Having two journalists as parents means reading and watching the news is quite the priority in our home.
But it seemed I’d got a little careless.
Or had I?
To what extent should we shield our children from the realities of the world?
When are they old enough to watch the news?
A friend told me she hadn’t been able to reach her TV in time before her eight-year-old son heard about a mass slaughter of kindergarten students in Connecticut last December.
Try explaining that to a boy who’s old enough to understand it’s happened but too young to understand why.
Especially when you don’t understand yourself.
I’d often glance out of the corner of my eye at Master Seven when certain news items came on TV.
I’d sigh with relief seeing him completely engrossed in his colouring-in, only to have him ask as soon as it’s over: “Mummy, what’s a homicide?”
I thought about Master Seven’s question as we walked.
Had anything really bad happened to me?
Family deaths, a few teenage brushes with the law (yes, me!) and my share of broken hearts.
But no, I’d actually had a very good life and told him so.
“What about you?” I asked back, curious.
“Weeeeelllll,” he said.
I braced myself.
“I have taken a few tumbles, like this,” he said, doing a slow motion commando role on the nearest lawn.
I laughed, but he just stared back at me seriously.
I was relieved.
My little grown up suddenly sounded seven again.
“Yes but even those haven’t been so bad,” I said. “At least you didn’t break any bones.”
“Oh I broke my leg once,” he said matter-of-factly
“You’ve never broken a bone in your body,” I told him.
“Yes, I did,” he asserted. “I was walking like this, remember” (demonstrates bizarre hobble).
The rest of our walk consisted of safer subjects – school, Super Mario and our favourite desserts.
But I had a feeling I had a way to go in answering all of life’s big questions.


5 thoughts on “Breaking the news

  1. Tricky hey, the news might flag as an issue if kids watched it and you weren’t there to explain the big picture. I did get Jack’s (7yo) attention off the news lastnight when they were talking about a vicious rape though :-/. We still love Behind the News! Remember our awesome BTN assignments we did at school 🙂

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