The Cast: Aurora (Shocked), Cindy (Witness), Erich (More than Concerned), Myself (Text-Messager).
As a parent, you try to teach your children the best you can. You try and prepare them for when they get older and encounter ‘Life’, they will be prepared for it. One of the key problems is how/when to introduce more of life’s scary things to them.
The town where I live is a medium to small size. There is some crime but not a lot of really bad stuff. However, about 23 years ago (about six months after my wife and I were married) there was an old couple that was murdered on a Saturday evening. It took place about three blocks from our home. I still recall seeing the story unfold on the evening news and thinking, “That’s just a few blocks from here. Holy crud…”
So how do you determine when to expose your small children to the ‘realities’ of life? Through television? Newspapers? Internet? As the situations come up? Everybody has their own way of doing it. I’m not to say one is better than the other necessarily. I think a parent needs to take each child into consideration. As each child has a different maturity, curiosity, and willingness to learn.
I recall how my oldest daughter was terrified of bees when she was very little. The screeching and running and crying at just the possible sound of one. I understood this, to a point—being allergic myself, and then formulated a plan to help put her mind at ease. My plan: Catch a bee alive (in a jar, not in my hands—that would be insane).
And it almost worked. I got a wasp instead.
Not wanting to wait for days until the thing died, I just put the jar containing the wasp, in the freezer and waited a few minutes. Once the wasp was sluggish, I took it outside and with a razor blade, cut it up into three parts. Next, I brought my daughter outside to see the disassembled wasp. Knowing it was dead I used tiny tweezers and straight pins to demonstrate how the mandibles worked, the legs, wings, and how the stinger popped out. We used a magnifying lens to examine the feet and antenna, and by the end, she wasn’t afraid anymore. She was still cautious—she’s always been smart, just not afraid.
That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about. How much do we introduce the world’s terror to our children? And when do we start?
Life and death happens all around us. As previously mentioned, my wife and I had a married couple murdered, stabbed to death, just a few blocks from us. That is about as close as I would like that reality to come—and that is still too close. Then one day, last year, myself, my wife, and my youngest daughter were exposed to a mass murder right in our front yard. I will never get that scene out of my head. Such a dark memory.
It was September the 28th. Just about half-past seven in the evening. That’s when I heard the noise. There was a commotion of some kind directly outside my front door—or so it seemed. The ruckus that was being made was surprisingly loud. You must understand that where my house is located, it’s quiet. The only traffic is from those that live on the street, and the occasional visitor. So any out-of-place sounds draws the attention of the neighborhood.
As I moved to my front door in an attempt to observe, and assess, the situation from the safety of the peekhole I was immediately astonished by the spectacle that was unfolding before my very eyes. How could this have escalated so quickly? Was my first thought. Followed by, What should I do?
All my years of training—superhero and Marine Corps—screamed in my ears to launch myself into the outside and get involved. But now, I had a family. My youngest was 13. I could get seriously hurt. But then, so could someone else. Notifying the proper authorities would have been the right choice. I didn’t make that call. I did something else. I grabbed my wife and daughter. It was time to educate about how the world works.
Calling for Cindy to collect Aurora and bring her to the front door so that I could show her something she might never get to witness again, I mentally prepared for how my daughter was going to react, grabbed my phone—so that I could take photos, put one hand on the doorknob, and waited.
It didn’t take them long—especially because I was um… encouraging them, yeah, encouraging them to come quickly to the front door so that they wouldn’t miss anything. Moments that felt like little eternities eventually passed and both Cindy and Aurora arrived. Understandably my daughter was confused, and curious, as to what she was about to see. My wife was just curious as to why they needed to hurry. With one gesture and word, I threw open the door and exclaimed, “Behold…” and then let what happened happen.
You make bad choices sometimes. Not specifically you, reader, but at the same time, yes, you reader. We all do. We make poor choices based upon the knowledge we have. Usually, it seems, that we do that when we don’t have all the information.
At 7:32 PM, I sent Erich a text. As one of my closest friends I felt he needed to know what had just happened. It read like this: “Cindy, Aurora and I just witnessed a murder in front of our house.”
That was the first sentence.
The second sentence of that same text read like this: “There were black feathers everywhere.”
Remember what I just said about bad choices because of a lack of information? It was only just four paragraphs ago. You did it didn’t you? You judged me. Admit it. Tsk-tsk. Shame on you.
However, Erich half did too. His response was this, at 7:33 PM: “Haha, i almost pooped my pants!”
In case you were unaware, a gathering of crows is called a Murder. And this particular year, we had a massive, momentary infestation that had moved in from the South. Those big, black birds were moving about all over, in our trees, on our cars, the lawn, and all about in the street. There were so many I lost count after 30. Then, just as quickly as they had arrived, they left.
To this day it is still the largest Murder I have ever witnessed.
So, a couple things. One being, Aurora screamed out of delight. She loves learning and knows her daddy isn’t going to do anything to bring her harm. So, stop judging (you know you still kinda are). The second thing is, take the opportunity to teach your children when special moments arise—like a murder of crows in your front yard. They won’t forget it, and neither will you.