Appropriate for Children

The news is bombarding us, the public, from every angle in the aftermath of the tragic and heinous Colorado shooting. There is discussion of many topics: what made this man go on a rampage, gun control, how people and neighbors need to be aware of the unstable signs of those around them, what security measures can be taken to ensure this does not happen again in the future, etc. However, while I have paid attention to the news regarding the topic, one angle that has particularly caught my attention is how to talk to your children about a tragedy. This aroused my interest because I have no intention of talking to my children about this tragedy.

Children are born innocent – a blank slate if you will. As parents, we have many jobs including deciding what to expose our children to – whether it be movies or tragedies and everything in between. Of course, each child is different and maturity does not occur in some predetermined linear fashion. What about parents? What role do we parents play in our children’s maturation process? I have not done nor is this the place for a formal researched paper. However, I am quite certain parents and environment play at least some role in the development of a child’s maturity.

I am a protector. As such, I do not want my children (5 & 8 year-old boys)  watching the news, for the most part. My children are exposed to all forms of media; the internet, radio, and television. They read, hear, and see things that I think children their age should not. While I try to monitor what they read, listen to and watch, I can’t protect them from everything nor do I even want too. They will see both the good and the bad in the world – it is inevitable and necessary to be a functioning, thoughtful, and sensitive adult. I do want them to grow up and be mature. However, their development should come in time and naturally with the guidance of my wife and I and not be based on the news cycle.

The Colorado massacre is a terribly sad and horrific event. I grieve for those who lost family members and friends. I am concerned what this means for public safety. I wonder what, if anything, can be done to help ensure such a tragedy never occurs again. However for my children, let them watch Nickelodeon — even Nick Jr. — as long as they can.

The Aliens Have Landed

Aliens landed at my house this weekend. No my family and I did not let out any blood curdling shrieks of terror, no one ran for cover, and no one saw their life flash before their eyes. These aliens were invited to our home.  In fact, guests were welcomed to celebrate the landing of these aliens.  
My 8 year-old son, to put it mildly, is a Lego Freak. I love him dearly but he is off his rocker for Lego and if asked, I am nearly certain he would say he loves Lego more than my wife or me. How to compare to this durable piece of plastic that can allow him to build anything his brain can imagine? I can’t, and I am okay with that.
Last year, my son had a Lego party. At the party, his classmates and friends built something out of Lego, partook in some Lego games, and got Lego candy as part of their goody bag.  The other kids seemed to have a good time at our version of Lego Land.  When my wife asked our son about a birthday party this year, he answered clearly and without a hesitation that he wanted a Lego party. “But,” she tried to reason “you had a Lego Party last year.  Don’t you want something different?” When he did not change his mind, she tried another track – “but your friends are going to be bored. You can’t have the same exact thing as last year.”  This caused him nearly two seconds of consternation and with that time passed, he blurted out, “This year we can make it a Lego Alien Conquest Party.” He was clear and did not want to consider any of our ideas. So, my wife accepted his decision and determined that if this is the party he wanted, this is what she would give him.
Now, this turns into a men are from Mars and women are from Venus sort of story (kind of fits well with the alien theme too – how convenient).  My wife is a closet party planner. She immersed herself into all that is Lego Alien Conquest and ultimately did the same for our house.  She decorate our house from the front door to the playroom with pictures of Lego aliens.  She made a cake with a Lego alien on it, wrapped Hershey bars (for the goody bag) with a Lego alien minifigure, set the table with Lego Alien Conquest colors, and bought Lego (set 7049) for each attendee.  I assisted in cleaning and shopping and occasionally told her she was nuts and to relax. I can be helpful like that.
So aliens really did land at our house this weekend.  My son and his friends enjoyed the landing.  He should thank the Alien from Venus who doubles as his mom.