Tooth Fairies And Terror Attacks
- May 24, 2017
- Theresa Bertuzzi
I was woken up yesterday morning by my sweet little girl who made two dramatic announcements “Mom!!!! The tooth fairy forgot to come and a whole bunch of kids got blown up at an Ariana Grande concert!” “Huh???” (What Did She Just Say???) (Fucking Internet, why did I give her my IPAD?) (Stupid Tooth Fairy!!!!) all ran through my head before I sat up and said you better run and grab me my phone. (Yes I need to check that damn internet and see what she is talking about) Sure enough, and much to my horror, she was right. I can’t believe that my children are growing up in a world where my ten year old’s worries include both a tooth fairy fail and the fear of being murdered at their favorite singer’s concert. It makes me so angry and sad that this is what this generation of children have to think about. Those horrible visions never ever crossed my mind when I was her age and I wish that I could shelter my babies from those horrible truths.
When the 9-11 terrorist attacks happened I was just getting ready to become a first time mom as my oldest son was set to be born less than 8 weeks later. I had no idea when I woke up that day how changed our world would be following the events that would happen that morning. They would forever change our world so that my sweet babies would never experience the completely innocent childhood that my generation was lucky to have. For goodness sakes my daughter just talked about the tooth fairy and children being blown up in the same sentence! On that day in September I was probably in one of the most difficult places to be when I heard the news of what was happening. I was teaching my third grade class. I had just ushered my kids out for recess and was heading to the washroom, I was eight months pregnant after all, and I was yanked into the library by one of my fellow teachers. As I was yanked into the room I remember seeing one of the other teachers crying in the hallway. (What the hell was happening?) I stared shocked at the television that had hastily been set up so we could watch the news. All of the teachers were surrounding it and we stood opened mouthed hanging on to each other as we watched the planes crash into the towers. (I can’t believe that this is happening, what is happening? Why is something like this happening?) We only had a brief 15 minutes to grasp what was happening before we had to rush back to our classrooms. We were told not to say anything to the children, this would be the parents’ job that evening and we could handle the after math over the next few days.
Now the students did not have access to the internet back then, like they do now, but that did not stop them from finding out exactly what was going on. Apparently some of the parents had panicked and were not only rushing in to collect their children so that they could hold them close but were also telling their kids what was happening. You can guess what happened at that point as, within minutes, the children spread the news like wildfire and within a short time we would not have to tell them what happened as they already knew. On to Plan B, dealing with a class of nine year olds who just found out that planes are randomly crashing into buildings all over the place and killing everyone. (Oh crap! How do you explain this one) I let them ask me questions and I answered the best that I could. I will never ever forget how frightened they all looked and how hard it was to stay calm and not cry so that I didn’t frighten them any worse than they already were. They kept asking me if they were safe, were their families safe? I reassured them that we were living in the safest country in the whole world and that they were more than safe here. (Please god let this be true!!!!) They asked me if I was certain of this and, God help me, I told them that I was absolutely certain of this. The truth was that I had no idea if everything was going to be okay. All I knew was that commercial planes full of innocent people were being crashed into buildings all over the states and that more may be in the air ready to crash. I had no idea if these children’s parents, many who worked downtown in our country’s capital city, were safe. They very well may not have been. Thank goodness a person’s pants do not really catch on fire when one lies because I would have been standing there in front of them in a pair of scorched underpants. I had no idea how their world would change and what innocence would be lost that day, all I knew is that I had to keep it together for these children and keep them safe while protecting them from the horrible truth as much as I could. I would be the face of comfort that they would remember when looking back at the moment when they first heard the news. (Lord help me because I just want to hold them all and cry my heart out)
My own first child would be born into a world where ISIS would be the dirtiest word that you could say, where they would know that if someone set a back pack down beside you, you got the hell out of there as fast as you could in case it may explode. Exploding back packs were not a part of my childhood. My biggest fear growing up was dealing with the urban myth of the ole razor blades in the Halloween candy; my own children, even though I tried to shelter them as much as I could from the news, would learn about families blown to pieces while running marathons, see people on the news plowed down at festivals by trucks driven directly into crowds and now children being blown up while enjoying a concert that my children would have loved to have attended. Unfortunately, just as all of this is happening, social media and the internet are also exploding so that protecting your children from hearing about these horrible events is pretty much impossible. Even if you don’t let your own child onto the internet, their friends and classmates will have seen what happened and tell them. So we have to deal with it and try and comfort our children as best as we can. Here is how the conversation went this morning.
“Mom, why did the terrorists blow up little kids, they didn’t do anything wrong?”
“No they didn’t, you need to understand that these terrorists are insane so what they do does not always make sense. They have so much hate in their hearts that they aren’t even thinking about whom they are hurting, they are just hurting as many people as they can.”
“Did this happen in our country or someplace else?”
“It was not in Canada, It was in Great Britain, across the ocean.” (Hopefully putting an entire ocean between the murder and my daughter would bring her some comfort)
“But that could happen here too, can’t it?” (Crap, so much for the ocean!!!)
“Yes it can but Canada is one of the safest places to live in the world so I don’t want you to worry. These horrible people want to make us all afraid and we can’t let them. We have to keep living, having fun and love each other because this is what these murderers don’t want. They want us to be afraid, to blame each other and to fight with one another but we are not going to do that.” (Yes I pulled out the Canada is safer than all of the other places fib but I’ve got to say something to protect this baby and allow her to go out in the world without being afraid that she is going to be murdered)
“Do you think that the kids and the moms and dads who were killed were afraid?” (Yes I do)
“No I don’t think that they were afraid at all. I think that they were happy and excited because they just saw Ariana and then I think they didn’t even know what happened. One second they were here and excited and the next they were in heaven and the angels were bringing them to the most beautiful and happy place in the world.” (Once again my pants were seriously on fire here, some of those children never knew what hit them but many of them were surely terrified and now traumatized for life and lord help those parents that lost their babies in that blast!)
“Why can’t all of the leaders of the countries fight the ISIS people and stop them from hurting people? Why can’t they just bomb them like they bomb everyone else?” (I wonder about this too baby)
“The leaders are all trying to protect the people as much as they can but the problem is that they can’t just fight ISIS because they are not all in one place. They are also surrounded by innocent children and families so they can’t blow them up or attack them without hurting all of those people.” (Also, ISIS is everywhere babe, even in our own safe country as these horrible people call on every crazy maniac that they can and give them an excuse and a reason to see through the horrible actions that are already in their heads) (No way am I telling her that, I wish I didn’t know that myself)
“Well I’m not going in any crowds ever again and I’m not going to any concerts in my whole life” (At this moment, I don’t even want to let you leave the house let alone allow you to be anywhere in a crowd. Yet I know that if I presented you with Ariana Grande concert tickets you would excitedly go to that concert and I would have to allow you to go. I would be right beside you the entire time and would pretty much spend the whole time guarding your tiny body like a professional body guard. I also may tackle you and cover you with my body if anyone so much as bangs a door but you don’t need to know that!)
“We can’t be afraid to have fun and go places. You are safe here. We have security checks to protect us from people who may want to harm us and remember we live in one of the safest countries in the world.” (Crap, said it again, but I really, really want to believe that this is true and I want her to believe it too; at least until we can’t believe it anymore.”
At this point she seemed good with the whole affair and headed off to get ready for school while I had a good private cry for this world that my children have to live in.
I think the thing that made me the saddest about this conversation I had with my daughter was the fact that, yes, she was sad and frightened, but not to the extent that she should have been. A horrible mass murder like this would have sent me into hysterics as a child as horrors like this did not exist in my childhood but my daughter was not hysterical because these kind of horrible events are a part of her world and they always have been. How sad that we have a generation of little ones who are actually used to hearing about mass murders. She did not have that same fear as the children whom I comforted on 9-11. Those children looked at me with sheer terror in their eyes. My daughter was not terrified; she was concerned, interested and sad. This breaks my heart and I hope that one day this will all come to an end and our children will one day get to experience a world where ISIS does not exist and people are not randomly murdered. I pray that as they grow older, they will one day be able to go to a crowded concert and not have to be vigilantly watching for suspicious people and possible terror threats. That their hearts will not race when they hear a loud noise and that they will be able to watch the news without seeing these horrible images. I suspect that they may never experience a world where these horrible events do not occur. I wish that my children could have had the innocent childhood that I had but I will do my best to tell them the truth and provide them with what comfort I can and I will teach them to love all of the people in this world and to be kind. I will teach them not to be afraid and I will teach them to find joy in a world that is not always joyful. I will also make sure that there are no more Tooth Fairy fails because this world is disappointing enough without the damn tooth fairy forgetting to drop off that Toonie! I’m sure the one she drops off tonight will be especially shiny. I love you my babies and I wish that you got to grow up in the same world that I grew up in. XOX