I walked my kids through Airport Security recently. It was the first time they can remember the procedure.
“Why do they have to do all this?” my Evelyn asked timidly while being scanned.
I regretted not having an answer prepared. Evelyn has a tendency toward big feelings. Some medical professionals call it anxiety. I slowly tied my shoes and prayed for a way to re-frame the truth so that she could understand and still feel safe. She’s only eight.
“Once upon a time,” I began slowly, “there were some bad guys. They were bad because they wanted to hurt people. They stole a plane and flew it into buildings. So now Airport Security needs to treat every person like a ‘bad guy with a plan’ in order to keep everybody safe.”
She held my gaze for a long ten seconds then held my hand tighter. She didn’t say a word until we got to the gate.
“But it was a long time ago, right?”
Long time ago? It was in my lifetime, but not hers.
Long time ago? It’s been less than 2 decades.
“Not long enough” I replied.
I chose to create distance in her mind between what happened on 9/11 and what happens so we can fly in airplanes safely today.
There seem to be three levels of honesty in my parenting: Lie, truth and the truth re-framed.
Sometimes we lie to our kids. Like the time I told my kid he was the world’s best weed puller. He still believes it to this day. In reality, I just needed the garden cleaned out.
Then there are times when the truth needs to be told, regardless of how ruthless it may seem.
I told my kids there was no Easter Bunny. “Easter is about Jesus. It just is” I said. They didn’t buy it. In fact, they scoffed in disgust. I was both offended and impressed that they didn’t believe me.
Then there are times that I need to re-frame the truth so that they can digest it.
This goes for all inquiries regarding childbirth, investment banking and airport security.
Here’s the conundrum: I can’t re-frame the truth these days. I think re-framing truth is partially to blame for our current societal situation. Like we’ve been unknowingly fed an algorithm before we even knew what the freak an algorithm was. In my house, that ends here.
I can’t re-frame our world for you anymore, my loves.
It’s raw and hurting.
Beautiful and broken.
So to my astute four kiddos, here’s what I can do. I will speak to you about people and places left out of history books, like Emmett Till and Rosewood. We will practice standing by, with and for people who need us. I also want you to talk about the fires you feel raging around you. I feel them too. I want you to listen first, learn second and love always.
I will continue to point out the beautiful places, people and diversity on earth because it’s what makes the world worth living in. People like Tabitha Brown, Melody Hobson and Russell M. Nelson to name a few, whose light burns brightly enough to give off hope. I also promise to discuss shadows, sadness and history. I can tell you right now, I know very little but I will never stop learning for you (and me). We make a great “find the truth team”.
So I won’t re-frame our world for you anymore.
Because I love you.
And because, as a beautiful man once said, “...the truth shall set you free.”