I designed a book cover without having finished the book because I wanted the motivation to continue and to be reminded of why I wanted to write it.
Sadly, these are conversations we must have with our children: how to respond to bullying, peer pressure, name calling, a stranger in the building, an eminent emergency of mortal proportions.
We send them off each morning; we sigh internally when they come home. Despite the boisterous noise, the mess, the sibling rivalry and what all, the pictures of devastation and grief flashed across our TV screens during these deadly shootings is not the alternative we would rather face as parents.
During a recent water cooler conversation, I broached the subject with a colleague. How would she comfort a child who has had this tragic experience in school? How would she assuage the fears - her own and her child's? I wondered how I would handle it and decided the best defense is to be prepared.
Today's child needs some level of awareness to the challenges they may face by those who have mental illness, prejudice, social misbehaviors or outright hatred towards them. They need to understand that they are not at fault when they are the target of a bully or unfortunately, a 'bad guy'. They need to recognize that this awareness goes beyond the stranger danger of the 70s and 80s and while we parents do not want to exaggerate or exacerbate their fears, we also do not want them to have misplaced trust. Everyone is not their friend and all adults are not trustworthy. They need to be in tune with their inner sense or 'funny feeling' when it comes to close contact with others in a public setting, i.e., what is acceptable and unacceptable with regards to touching, hugging, conversation and keeping secrets.
My colleague, single and childless, feared potentially having children one day and having to prepare them for life outside a parent's protection. But we both acknowledged that it was a rite of passage that all children must face.
My desire to write this book was a way of speaking to my own children on these very critical matters, while still allowing them the freedom in their innocent mentality to be ok with the world around them. How do you find that balance? I hope that when my manuscript is complete, I will have reached a conclusion on that question.