How Do You Explain The Colorado Shootings To A Small Child?

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woman child
I was in Colorado during the Aurora shootings, and my little nephew kept asking me what's going on.

On July 20, I woke up to a flurry of texts asking me if I was okay. As a New Yorker staying in Boulder, Colorado in July visiting my sister and her family, I was asleep at 8 a.m. mountain time, while back east my friends and family already knew what had happened less than eight hours before in Aurora. I dragged myself from my bed to turn on the news and watched in horror, as we all did, the tragic events that occurred at that Dark Knight showing in Aurora — just 45 minutes from where I am in Boulder.

Like many, all I could do was cry with sadness and anger, and when I went to find my sister, I noticed my three-and-a-half-year-old nephew was standing behind me crying too. He wasn't crying because of what was on the TV; he was crying in response to my crying. To him, the TV was a blur of police lights and bloody videos taken on cell phones. He didn't understand. Then he asked me why I was crying.

As someone who doesn't have children of her own and has never had to explain to a child I love just how terrifying the world can be, I wasn't sure what to say. My little nephew had wanted to go see The Dark Knight Rises, but both my sister and his dad told him that he was years away from being allowed to see it. It's too violent for someone his age, and my sister is doing everything she can to shield her two sons from violence for as long as she can. But as he stood next to me that morning, clutching my hand, there was real violence, real unjustified murder and real heartache flashing on the screen. He wasn't watching a movie; he was watching real life. 

I abruptly turned off the TV (I would not have had it on if I knew he was going to come into the room) and told him that a bad man had done horrible things to nice people. He wanted to know the bad man's name (he asks the name of everyone lately), but at the time I didn't know it yet. Even now, my sister's family and I won't utter the killer's name because as both Anderson Cooper and the local politicians here have pointed out, his name should not be remembered; it's the names of the victims that we should say over and over again. Those, we should never forget. Read the rest...

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