After a long day of playing outside my aunt and uncle's home, I ran into the house, where my aunt was cooking dinner. The news was on in the other room, and I sat and watched it for a few minutes.
Confused by something the reporter said, I walked into the kitchen and asked Aunt Misty, "What's rape?"
I was only 7 at the time, but I clearly remember Aunt Misty gasping and racing around to find the remote.
"What's rape?" I repeated once Aunt Misty turned off the television.
My older cousin John tapped my shoulder. "Rape is when people go like this to you," he told me and grinded his teeth.
I always thought that was "gnashing," I thought to myself, but I figured my cousin knew best.
Now I'm a mother myself, and I wonder how to explain certain current events to my kids. The memory from December, 2012, is still fresh in my mind; my kids heard me crying as I read reports about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Of course, they wanted to know what happened.
How much should I tell my first grader? I wondered. How much could his little soul handle?
As mothers, we long to protect our children, to shield them from the stark realities of the evil world we live in. My heart nearly broke the day my son asked me, "Mom, are bad guys real?" Up until our conversation, Nate assumed bad guys were the stuff of fiction and fantasy. I loved Nate's sweet innocence, but I mourned for all the children in our world who learn firsthand what I had to actually teach my son:1