Talking To The Kids About Haiti

01.25.10

My answer to the question, “do you shield your children from tragedy?” is a fluid one. It changes every day, every year.

I really want to know what you do, what you hope to do, what you might have done wrong.

Haiti

01.22.10

The fifth grade kids raised $2300 for UNICEF. It was their plan, because “President Obama told me that I could change the world”.

And they did. They changed the world, and we (the parents) watched and cheered and allowed them to be children. Because really, if you let them, children will change the world.

They changed mine. But now my daughter wants to know what happens when there’s an earthquake here.

“Not much”, I tell her. And I lie, “sometimes our houses crack, but we build differently here in Los Angeles. Our house survived the 1994 Northridge quake”. I didn’t tell her that the Northridge Mall fell down, or that it was pre-dawn on a holiday, or many people would have died.

I don’t tell my kids that their Dad’s apartment building crumbled into rubble in the 1994 earthquake, or that I drove around the city with a gun in my lap because the LAPD was on tactical alert, and I’d rather risk arrest than being alone in a devastated and eerily quiet city. I didn’t tell my daughter about the Bel Air Market that price gouged on baby formula and milk, or that there were no batteries for sale, because the stores quite simply ran out.

Instead I tell her that Mommy is very prepared. I have cash, water, food and (just in case) guns. I tell her that Daddy is young and strong and can take care of us no matter what, and that I would walk barefoot through the streets to get to them if need be.

I think she believes me. But really, that LemonAid stand is more hopeful than I.