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Tough Topics

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January 27, 2010 by Marj Hatzell

My Not-a-Blog Grrrrrl, Well-Read Hostess, had something interesting to say.

And I have to say, I totally get where she’s coming from.

While I want Bug Boy to be well-read and well-aware of what is going on in the world, I am having a very difficult time with this loss of innocence. The years when they only thing he worried about was getting the high score in Pokémon.

The kid already has enough anxiety but I cannot shield him forever. The thing is, he worries.  A lot.  About everything.  And, given that he is “on the spectrum,”  I sometimes don’t give him credit for how well he understands and processes highly sensitive topics.

The school covers many of these topics, too.  Right now, my third-grader is reading about segregation, slavery, death and disease.  And he understands what he is reading. This is the same child who obsesses over catastrophic events.  He cannot get enough of the The Hindenburg  or Titanic.   And not because the people died (he can tell you with pleasure exactly how many, what date it occurred and the like) but because forty-odd tons of potatoes sank.  And he thinks it is a waste of food.  This is when emotional detachment is a good thing. And reading about Rosa Parks, Jim Crow Laws and MLK has brought about some interesting conversations in our house.  And sparks some interesting drawings:

It says, “Stop arresting our black babies now”

Ok, so sometimes things get lost in translation. He means well. He does understand the basics, honest.  And I know I’m a bad mom because I laughed hysterically for hours after I saw this drawing in his school bag.  Not in front of him, I swear.  But how freaking awesome is that?  I’m so proud.

We took him to his first funeral last summer and he did well. No nightmares, just innocent questions.  We explained how bodies decayed (oh, yes we did) and why Great-Grand mom looked so different in the coffin.  We told him our view on the afterlife and what some other people believe.  He grasped it quite well.  And then a few weeks later, he’d ask us questions that made us realize that he was a VERY deep thinker.  Delayed reaction or no, it stunned us when he asked about when we would die.  Not because he was going to miss us (he assured us he would) but because he wanted to make sure Bugaboo would be taken care of.  And he vowed, VOWED that Bugaboo would always have someone to take care of him. I totally bawled. I love that boy.

When the earth quake hit two weeks ago (WHAT EARTHQUAKE??  Have you been under a rock or on Tatooine?) he had some tough questions.  We looked at pictures online of bodies, burning, crushed buildings, babies crying.  He saw pictures of destruction and death.  Children forever separated from their parents.  Parents mourning their dead babies. And instead of getting depressed and crying, know what he did?  He emptied his piggy bank.  Then he asked to raid my purse for change.  Then he asked if we could collect supplies.  And every day this week he has come home collecting things for relief efforts.  He wants to help.

Our next topic?  The past treatment of persons with special needs.  He needs to understand how we’ve come a long way since Institutionalizing children like his brother for their entire lives.  And how far we still have to go.  Then?  The Holocaust.  He’s aware that something happened, he knows that the Nazi’s were bad.  But now, I need him to understand more.  I don’t want him to be desensitized.  History has a way of repeating itself and if we allow people to forget these things, it can and will happen again.   I’m  not going to let that happen in my house.

One thought on “Tough Topics

  1. She Started It says:

    My oldest is too sensitive, too. When they studied the Titanic is school, she had nightmares for over a week. Same thing goes for segregation and MLK’s assassination. Terrible, terrible nightmares.

    I don’t think she knows about Haiti. Seriously. She hasn’t seen it on TV or the internet (we watch it after bed). We haven’t discussed it. And I have no problems not talking about, when I know she’ll have night terrors.

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