I lived in Boston for two years during grad school where Patriots’ Day was always a day to celebrate as runners from around the world descended on the city for the infamous Boston Marathon. On race day I loved following the action as runners started west of the city in Hopkington, traversed the famous Heartbreak Hill, and made their way into the heart of the city. I loved hearing the stories of the runners – those who were best of their class, many of whom had to qualify for the race. I loved taking the T to Copley Square with my roommates to cheer for runners at the finish line.
As we send our children to school tomorrow, there is a strong likelihood that classmates could be discussing the events of today in the classroom, in the halls, at lunch, and at recess. While there are still many unknowns, please think about how you want your kids to hear about what happened in Boston. Do you want to have them hear the facts from you or speculation from a classmate?
Tonight at dinner my husband and I chose to tell our 6 and 9 year old that tomorrow they may hear other kids talking about 2 bombs going off in Boston at a race. We shared that people were hurt and some died. We urged them to talk to us if they had any questions about what they heard from friends at school.
For our family, providing the facts and giving our kids a chance to ask questions was enough for the moment. Regardless of what information you choose to share with your children, please urge them to be sensitive to others who may not have heard the news.
For more information about talking to your children, here is a piece about 5 Helpful Resources for Talking to Kids about Tragedies that I wrote for Parents.com following Sandy Hook that features age appropriate resources for children of all ages.
My heart goes out to the city that I made my home for two wonderful years, the dedicated runners who are best of their class who had to qualify for a coveted race spot, and all of the spectators who provided motivation along the route. The Boston Marathon on Patriots’ Day will not be the same for a very long time.
Just like with my post about Sandy Hook, this was not written to capitalize on a tragedy but rather to help provide guidance about ways to talk to our kids about one of the many difficult topics from the perspective of a parent and an educator.