Listening to the news with your children can be a dangerous thing. The headline a few days ago on the radio was: 17 year old sentenced to life in Florida for murder of two.
My son’s face was shocked. “17?” he said. “He murdered two people and he was only 17?”
Then my daughter joins in:
“Why did he murder those two people mummy?”
“I don’t know sweetheart”
“Was he a good guy or a bad guy?”
It is 8.30 in the morning, I am barely awake and my daughter is asking me about morality. I wish my brain would function more quickly, that I could think of the best thing to say to an 8 year old and a 6 year old as they ponder the realities of lives around them, of dangerous streets and disturbed people doing horrible things to one another. They are 8 and 6 and I want to love and protect them and keep them safe from harm but...
This is the real world...a world where bad things happen and I can’t pretend that it’s not true
Me: “I don’t know, but it sounds as if he is a bad guy”
My son is 8, in 9 years' time he will be 17. I look at him and hope that when he is old enough he won't ever want to hold a gun and won't ever wander, lost and drunk in an unfamiliar city and be cnfronted by a person with a gun. I hope that the world he lives in will be safe. They are both eating their breakfast, my son remains little overawed:
“17, he’s not even a man yet.”
And that seems a fitting end to our philosophical consideration of the news for the day.