be nice

“What happened?”

My eyes are pulled from my phone, where I was lost in reading, by her voice, and I look to my side to see her sweet eyes, as she looks up from her tablet in her cozy and safe spot on our couch. Kira has looked over my shoulder and read a headline and it is the second time in less than a week that I have had to consider how to explain to her an incident of mass casualties caused by an act of terror. That people did something bad.

I wonder for a moment if I should have proceeded to the news to read, if I should have waited until after they were asleep. I wonder now how much to say, to this child, on the eve of her 8th birthday, who danced carefree in the driveway this morning. There is that fragile line as a parent between protecting and sheltering your child. I want her to be aware, to know there is evil and that she can be a light against. I want her to be careful. I do not want her to be afraid.

3700 miles away those weapons reach us too. Into our homes they travel to our sense of security on this quiet night; they travel to our calm.
“Why are 153 people dead in Paris?” she asks again. Her brother hears her and looks up too.

I tell them that people killed people with guns and bombs. Ephraim looks confused. Kira tells me that makes her angry and sad. “Me too,” I say. It seems too simple a response, but one that feels right in that moment. I remind them again that there is so much goodness in the world and we can be a part of spreading that, and we need to live on.

Tonight, there is no more that they want to discuss about it, maybe having just learned earlier this week that someone would put a bomb on a plane. I let them end the conversation, knowing it will be in our prayers at bedtime.

I am relieved, for a moment, that I do not need to explain more, to tell them how hard it is to confront someone who thinks that an act of terror such as this is the right thing to do. None of the six faces of specialists on the news on the TV as I type this, with my children asleep to what I hope is sweet dreams and peace, can make much sense of that in the way that we all yearn to, however powerful the words describing it as a “vicious, sadistic, nihilistic event” are. It is not about whether this is leading to war. We are at war.

I have never been to Paris. I have never been to Europe. Tonight, as with other tragedies, we will consider our unity as humans, our brothers and sisters in France tonight, and determine where we balance not dwelling and not disregarding.

We will celebrate Kira’s birthday tomorrow, with presents and candles that will be blown out with wishes.

Outside the window behind me, the wind chime I hung this summer has not yet been brought in. It rings feverishly in the windy air. In its swinging, my words, “why can’t everyone just stop and be nice?”

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