how to mess with your kid's mind :: lesson 1

step 1 :: buy him this book.
step 2 :: take him here.
step 3 :: talk a little too honestly about this.
step 4 :: define this word.
step 5 :: watch this show in front of him.

[sorry you have to follow so many links.]

as most of you know, ian is a very sensitive boy. he can be incredibly introspective and he thinks too much (he gets that from me). and that thinking often leads to bad stuff. lately, he's been talking about the holocaust a lot and asking tons of questions. it's also sparked more fear in him, and in his weak moments (i.e., when he's tired) the tears come pouring out.

it's really hard for me to know where to draw the line with disseminating information. and i know i've messed up (yet again) with this. i have always believed that if my child asks me something i will answer him as honestly as i can, especially if it's an important topic. my motto :: knowledge is power. but the holocaust is such a difficult, cruel, and important topic; you can't deal with it carelessly. how much is too much information, especially for a 6-year old? i didn't do enough research beforehand to prepare myself to deal with the sensitivity of the subject and the pupil.

ian's intellectually curious, so i can't answer his questions vaguely. at the same time i know i can't tell him everything about the inhumanity and insanity of the holocaust. it's even too much for an adult to take. what he learned at the museum of tolerance, what he's read in his children's encyclopedia, and what he's learned from us has been enough to make him worry about another holocaust in his lifetime. he came home early from a sleepover at my parents' house with a stomachache because he was scared that he would be taken away to a camp someday. it took a lot of coaxing and gentle discussion about how we learn from history, and how his dad and i are going to do everything we can to protect him. it brought tears to my eyes to think that i brought this fear to my child's life.

i can't erase what's already been implanted in his brain. i think all i can do now is educate myself on how to appropriately teach my kids about sensitive issues, and make this a true teachable moment about human rights. what can we do to prevent another holocaust from ever happening? what can we do to make our planet a better place? what can we do to prepare ian's generation to work towards peace? what can we do to instill compassion in all of mankind? it is a ginormous task, one i'm not sure i'm prepared for. but to make ian's life (and maya's) a better one, i know it's something i have to do.

coming soon :: lesson 2 :: how to unmess your kid's mind. i think i'll talk about this to help ian understand that not everyone has learned from history, but we can do something about it. maybe if we get involved it will help him feel like he has power to make positive changes, to have control over the future. i truly hope so.


Anonymous said...

Ah, Y, I think you are being a bit hard on yourself. Yes, you want to protect Ian as much as you can...but his intelligence and sensitivity require you to be even more honest than you might want to be at times. He is such a very very very sharp kid and obviosly a smart and caring one too. Would you really want his response to be different? You obviously raising an amazing boy and not one that is going to grow up to be a mass murderer...you deserve a pat on the back for that and then some!

Teddi, remember her, was at a convention and during down time she and a gal decided to catch a movie. They didn't like the choices much so they went to the independent documentary one on a whim. The title of the movie was Paperclips. They have a website for this movie that I have found for you http://www.paperclipsmovie.com/

This movie has become Teddi's all time favorite movie. She says it is amazing and the spirit of the children and the message was just amazing. I have not seen this movie but trust it has to be good based on Teddi's sharings with me. Maybe this movie might be some help to you and Ian right now. I don't know if you can find it on DVD but at the least, the website will show Ian that other people are concerned and care about what happened during the holocaust, and "other people" include kids near his age too. Maybe this can help Ian understand that he is not alone in this world for not wanting to see such a horrific devastation happen again.

Sending you all hugs!

AlmostDr.J said...

You are a courageous parent. And I agree with the other comment in that you are being waaaaay too hard on yourself. It's difficult to tackle these types of things but it's also important. And yes, Ian is an incredibly intelligent boy and I think that he deserves nothing less than your honest discussion of these difficult topics. You are amazing! (Meh, what do I know...Toe toe is only 15 months old)

But it reminds me of a interview that I heard with Maurice Sendak on Fresh Air. (Talk about an author not afraid to tackle painful topics in his writing for young kids without sugar coating!) I'll have to find the link and send it to you but the gist of this incredibly poignant anecdote he shared was that children are not as fragile nor unaware of the harsh and sad realities of life. In fact they know and have real critiques, concerns and opinions about everything that goes on in the world. In fact, they sometimes want to protect us from knowing that they know! Arrrgh so inarticulte...I must find the transcript and post it here...

Thanks for this moving post!