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Rose Colored Glasses

“Mama, how do you make a bridge?” This is the question from my 4-year-old daughter Scarlett sitting in the backseat on the way to her swim lesson. She’s looking especially cute in her bright pink Elton John sunglasses today. She's in a very curious stage, asking questions about everything we pass.

“Wow, what a great question for Daddy,” I say. He's an engineer. "Will you remind me to ask him when we see him at home?”

After the swim lesson on the drive home, I turn on the radio. It’s an NPR announcer telling us about the people shot in a movie theater in Colorado, while watching the latest Batman movie. And before I can switch it to Baby Beluga, I hear from the backseat, “Mama, those people died?”


Death is a new subject for us. Her friend Niko has a dog who recently died. Scarlett and about a half dozen other kids in her preschool remind me of this daily. When we’re playing outside Scarlett also likes to point out spiders or ants or “callapitters” who have died. “Mama, look! That spider’s dead!!” I think she wants me to react as dramatically as her.

I usually just respond with, “oh really?” when what I’m actually thinking is, what must be going through her head when she hears the word “dead” on the radio? And how can I keep her from knowing the dark reality of my job?

Every day part of my routine is to scan the wires and newspapers and look for stories that pertain to the southwest region. And almost everyday I encounter a disturbing story. One of the messages in my inbox every week is the latest Juarez death toll. The worst is when I read a story that involves kids.

Most parents grapple with how to protect their children from the darker truths. Fortunately our family lives a life -- unlike most of the world -- where the only time we hear about death is when we choose to.

And neither Scarlett or her sister watch much TV (and when they do it’s Sesame Street or Dora the Explorer) or listen to the news on the radio (unless Mama’s on).


For now when she has questions, I can answer her simply and honestly.

“Yes, honey, those people died ... Now what song would you like to hear?”

I’m just grateful she’s easily distracted. I know it won’t last.