Last night, as I lay in my bedroom glued to the television, Harlow walked in. “Mom! Let’s play a game!” I looked at her and realized I really hadn’t given her the time of day in almost 24 hours. I let the kids get lost in their online worlds so that Mike and I could watch the news. “This is important,” I told them and they listened.
We have been very open with them about everything going on, but assure them that we are safe in New York, lucky to be surrounded by people who support the election results and that Trump will not stop Biden from becoming President. We told them that Trump is basically a grown man who cannot accept the fact that he lost. “See? This is why it’s so important to learn from both our successes and our failures. Our failures teach us how to move forward when we do not win.”
I should also mention that none of this is new to them. Yes, the coup was a crazy thing to witness and took things to a ridiculously scary level, but my kids have seen Trump speak and have known who he is since before he was elected President. They know he is a bad, bad man. In some ways, I don’t think they were as surprised by what happened as the adults. They are growing up with a corrupt administration in the White House and don’t have the history on this earth to know that this is far from normal.
They are also aware of the social injustices in this country and how Black people aren’t treated the same as white people. They know this affects what schools they attend as children, what jobs they are able to get as adults, and what could happen when they are pulled over by the police. Mazzy has learned about white privilege in school, so she understood when I told her that the mob being able to get into the Capitol building was partly because police weren’t securing it as strongly as they would have if the protestors were Black. I also told her that they had direct instruction from the President and had been lied to about the results of the election, which is understandably confusing and led many people to believe that they were doing the patriotic thing. I’ll be honest and say, I’m not sure how much of this she took in.
We kept the news on, but mainly in our bedroom where they didn’t have to listen.
Things kept changing so quickly— the breach of the Capitol, the footage of Trump inciting the crowd at his rally beforehand, the videos of Capitol police letting the domestic terrorists freely walk in and out, the blatant flaunting of white privilege, the confirmation of the election FINALLY, the traitors that still objected, the Republicans who suddenly had a change of heart once their own lives felt threatened, the talk of the 25th amendment, the resignations at the White House, the articles of impeachment being drawn up… I felt the need to see it all as it happened. I was glued to the television but also immersed in my social media feeds, reading, posting, tweeting, linking.
But last night, Harlow had enough. She wanted to play with me. Or at least watch a TV show together like normal. The tables had turned and she was asking me to get off my phone to play a game. “A board game!” she said excitedly, because she knows that would compel me. So, I shut off the news and we played Spot It with Fuller House playing in the background until it was time for her to go to bed.
After she fell asleep, I sat with Mazzy who had been very focused on a drawing all night. She showed me a new shading technique she just learned in school. When she got home earlier that day, she had gleefully announced that there was no homework “because the teachers think we are stressed about the coup.” She smiled when she said it, but when I turned the news back on after Harlow fell asleep, she asked me to turn it off because it was scary.
When she went to bed, she asked if I could lie with her and read One Crazy Summer. She read it herself last year but she wanted to read it again with me.
One Crazy Summer is about three sisters in 1968 who travel from Brooklyn to Oakland California to meet the mother who abandoned them. They expect to meet movie stars and go to Disneyland but instead, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers, where they learn about their family and the history of this country. I’m not sure why Mazzy chose this book (I only got through the first chapter before she fell asleep) but I have to imagine it has something to do with all the conversations about racial injustices that are happening both at home and in school. This is her way to talk about it with me. I think it probably feels less scary to use a book she is already familiar with and knows the ending.
The news isn’t going anywhere. It’s okay to shut it off and be there for your kids in whatever way they need you.
They are processing too.