Saturday, December 15, 2012

Making sense of tragedy and learning from it

This photo is going around facebook.

It's of one teacher, who lost her life yesterday. She lied to the gunman (I'm intentionally not naming him, he deserves no acknowledgement of a personal manner) about where her students were. She saved their lives and lost her own. 
Her name is Victoria Soto and she is a hero!
And she was not alone in her act of heroism.

As I read the first story about Victoria Soto's act of heroism, I wanted to show Nixon a true hero. To him, in his 4-year old mind, heroes look like Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow. They wear costumes, have cartoons and action figures of their likeness he can play with. 
Victoria Soto wore no costume, didn't star in a cartoon and will never have an action figure made of her. But she is a bigger hero than any imaginary character will ever be. 

I'm stealing my post from facebook...
 Just tried telling my 4-year old that this is what a hero looks like. Iron Man and Captain America may be what he thinks of when he hears "hero", but this woman IS a hero! I needed him to hear me say that to him.

Nixon may not have understood, but I did. He saw the tears in my eyes as I told him about her sacrifice. "This lady saved kids from a very, very bad man. And that bad man hurt her very badly, but those kids went home to their mommies and daddies because of her." Nixon said to me "She's a hero, like Black Widow? Like you, mommy?" (I was Black Widow for Halloween so he always tells me I'm Black Widow). My reply was simple "No, baby. Black Widow and mommy wish they were as brave as this lady was. She's a hero. Black Widow is imaginary, she's made up. But this beautiful lady is a real hero." Nixon said to me "Mommy, she's pretty like you." 
All I could do was hold him, stroke his head and say "She's beautiful, baby. She's very beautiful. Mommy will never be as pretty as this woman is."

Adults can barely make sense of this crime, how do you explain it to children? How do I tell my son I'm crying because my very soul aches for people I've never known and will never meet? Most of all, how do I reassure my son that everything is fine when it feels like there's no place safe enough for him anymore?

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