Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
I'm always seeing pieces in the media about what to tell your children about this or that. My default position has always been to tell my children nothing. Nothing at all. My kids are pretty dumb. I mean, they do o.k. in school but they're just not all that into the world. They like playing. They like throwing balls at each other's heads. They like monkey bars and baseballs. They like reading. Well, some of them do. The ten year old can't read while dribbling a basketball so given the fact that books don't bounce, her decision was pretty easy. So the Archbold kids have pretty much been ignoring the world since 1999.
It's been a good run. But now my oldest is thirteen and it's getting a little harder to ignore the world. The world finds its way in. It always does. Our Catholic school actually gave her an IPad with internet access so it's not like I can shut out the world anymore. And kids at school talk. Obviously, the thirteen year old is different from the five year old and I don't want to tell them the same things. Actually, I could probably tell the seven year old boy anything because he doesn't listen to me anyway.
When it came to the Kermit Gosnell trial, I heard my thirteen year old was talking about it to the 11 year old. So I thought long and hard about what to tell them. They've marched in The March for Life a few years so they know what's going on in with this country. They know that increasingly Christians are in enemy territory.
But about Boston? What do they need to know? I think it increasingly seems that Boston will be impossible to discuss without bringing up 9/11. There's lots of context.
So I asked her what she knew about Boston? She knew the bare bones. A bad man placed a bomb next to people who were watching the Boston Marathon. She knew about the eight year old. I told her what happened last night at MIT and it seems that the terrorists may have been Islamic terrorists. And this is important because there is a pattern worldwide of Muslims killing Christians. We don't yet know their motive but it could very well be that.
But I didn't just talk to her about evil. I also showed her the bravery of those who ran toward the injured with the blast still ringing in their ears and I told her stories of kindness which occurred immediately after. I showed her the YouTube of the Boston Bruins fans singing the National Anthem at the top of their voices. It was that which had the others come running. Anytime I play a video they come running. It's the same reaction I get if I crinkle cellophane because they think it might be a snack.
They all had questions and I attempted to handle them all. Soon, they pretty much knew everything. And they knew that one of the men was still at large. It was an epic parenting fail.
"What if the bad man comes here?" asked the five year old.
"Daddy will protect you doll," I said.
And then I thought. Daddy will do everything he can to protect you. And then he'll pray. He'll pray constantly.
In fact, maybe that's better than all this talking. "Let's all pray," I said.
I gathered them all around me and we prayed for the families of the dead and injured. We prayed for the policeman who was killed. We prayed for his family. We prayed for the officer who was in surgery and his family. We prayed for the authorities to apprehend the killer on the loose now. We prayed for peace in general and that those intent on violence would have a change of heart. And we finally prayed that God blesses America and helps us to keep this country safe.
My eleven year old suggested that we pray for the man to give himself up and not hurt anyone else.