Dear Abby

Last night my daughter saw me cry.  I try to never let this happen, mostly because I remember how I felt when I’d see my Mom cry.   My little one is very much like me, even at her young age.  The first words out of her mouth were, “What’s wrong, Mom?”  She lept into my lap and gave me the tightest hug.  She wanted to fix whatever was “wrong”.
And then she saw what I had been trying to shield her from for the last couple of years.  She saw what pure evil can accomplish.  She saw the destruction.  She saw more than I meant for her to see at six-years-old.When I realized that her eyes were fixed on people jumping out of two impossibly tall buildings that were on fire…  Well, I turned the TV off and tried to distract her with Play-Doh…  Typical Mom move.

“Mom, what movie are you watching? It looks scary!”

Oh baby, how I wish it had been a movie.

The best I could come up with was, “Sweety, you don’t have to worry.  I’m always here to protect you.  Why don’t you build me a cake?”  Hardly helpful, now that I think about it.

“But who protects you, Mom?”

Oh boy.

I didn’t immediately know how to answer that one.  After some thought, here’s what I’ve come up with:

Dear Abby,

There is a heck of a lot of evil in this world, baby.  I don’t know why these people are this way.  I don’t think anyone really knows.

What you saw on the TV, it actually happened.  It wasn’t a movie.  Some evil people flew planes into those tall buildings.  There were a lot of innocent people hurt.  There were a lot of people that died.  Some of the people who were hurt and who died were Firefighters, EMTs, Policemen, and Paramedics.

I didn’t know any of them, honey, but they’re still my family.  I know that’s hard for you to understand, and believe me, it’s hard to
explain.  We chose these jobs because we wanted to serve the public.  When you asked who protects us?  We protect each other.  We argue at times, just like you and your friends do, but we will always look out for and take care of each other the same way we protect and take care of the public.

That’s what we should be doing.

Sweetheart, that’s how I want you to live your life.  I want you to look out for and take care of your friends and family just like we do.
You can do this, even though you’re only six, by keeping your eyes open to what’s going on around you.  If you see something that doesn’t seem right, tell an adult.  If you see someone doing something they shouldn’t be doing, tell an adult.  If you see someone being bullied, tell an adult.  Don’t ever be afraid to speak up.

Just pay attention to what is happening around you, okay?

I love you, Abby.


PS… What your brother told you about being a “tattle-tale”? Totally untrue.

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April Saling

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