Friday, January 07, 2005

World On Fire

If you haven't yet seen Sarah McLachlan's "World on Fire" video, please click on the link and watch the whole thing. It's astounding.

Sarah McLachlan - "World on Fire" Video

*Sidenote: the first time I saw this, it followed Britney Spears' "My Perogative" in which a luxery sports car is sunk in a swimming pool in the first few minutes... (it's not hard to make Britney look bad at the best of times, but as a lead in to "World on Fire" it's just another sign that our culture is rapidly swirling down the toilet).

Monday, January 03, 2005

Liam's not a baby anymore

Well, it had to be done. Rusty and I were able to keep the most gruesome photos/video from Liam and Sean all week. But realistically, with Liam now in kindergarten, we realized we were going to have to tell him something about the Tsunami or he was likely to hear it all at school. Most likely not from a teacher or adult, but from another child. Which brought back memories of our six weeks of terror while the cicadas invaded this summer. Six weeks of terror because Liam had been told Cicadas 1.) flew into your mouth and choked you to death. 2.) Bit you. Sometimes to death. And my favorite - partially because the kid that told him this is one of the sweetest kids and I think he honestly believed it was true because the bigger kid across the street from him told him so... 3.) Cicadas spit acid into your eyes. With a possibility of death because after all, they're five years old. And they're boys.

Anyway, we decided to tell Liam the facts about the Tsunami so that if he did hear anything at school, he wouldn't totally be freaked out. He's in an ESOL school with children from a variety of countries/backgrounds. We weren't sure who may have been affected and/or how. I was really nervous about it because of that fine line between impressing the reality of the situation versus terrifying a five-year-old kid. But Liam sat as we talked and looked very serious and asked if he could see the pictures on the news. I had just turned on NBC and they were doing a relatively tame montage of photos/video that I had paused when Liam came in the room. I rewound and we watched the shots of the wave crashing over the hotel wall into the pool (no people in that shot, but you could hear screaming), a boat being tossed around and then tipped over, people standing in front of their wrecked homes, and others waiting in line for food. I explained the basics of what had happened, why they had to now wait in line for food and water, what we were doing about it as a country and as a family, and why it couldn't happen to our house (because we're a few hours inland) without having him decide he never wants to go to the beach again. I also told him that man people had died, including many children. Liam was reverently enthralled. And visibly sobered by the images. But not scared. He was actually very concerned for the people involved, and interested in the mechanics of a wave big enough to do so much damage. And he mentioned that he could hear the people screaming in one of the videos.

So here's where I realized I wasn't dealing with a baby anymore, but a real kid at this point. Liam kept asking if he could watch more of the news. I couldn't tell if he was thought the wave smashing into the pool was "cool" or just wanted to stay up, or what. We had, after all, seen the very tamest of images compared to what's been broadcast all week. So I said "Liam, what happened is very sad and the news was hard even for me to watch. It's not pretend or funny, it's real and it really happened to people." Liam looked seriously offended and said "I didn't think it was funny or pretend. But I want to see what happened!" If it hadn't been the night before school started again, I believe I would have let him stay up and watch some more.

I'm still glad we kept the majority of images and newscasts from Liam throughout the week. I got the impression even last night that the people screaming and crying in the background was the hardest thing for him. He hates to see people sad or crying (which is why the child wouldn't watch all of "Monsters, Inc." until this past summer. He disliked that the monsters were making the kids scream in terror). I'm glad that we were able to tell him the facts about the Tsunami and the aftermath and then let him see the images with some understanding of why the people were so upset. There is still a lot of talk about the decomposing of bodies, etc. as well as photos of people being buried so even keeping some of the more graphic newscasts from him is the plan for the moment (no CNN for him at this point). But I'm thrilled that he was able to hear about something and think about it instead of just worrying for himself (which would have been understandable for a kid, I know). But man... this was a hard week in regard to trying to balance what's best.
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