What do I tell them?

When my fifth graders look at me with trusting eyes, and ask me about the nuclear disaster that is happening in Japan, what do I tell them?

How do I answer, when they ask why this is happening?

What do I say when they ask if they are safe?

Fifth graders are just on the brink of understanding that the world is not controlled by their parents.  They are coming to learn that there are events in life that cannot be predicted, avoided or survived.  They have fears about weather, strangers and disease.  They ask me about war, about revolutions, about car crashes and tornadoes and earthquakes.

In the age of CNN and Youtube and Twitter, they are bombarded by information that they are just to young to absorb or understand.  They use language that is beyond their grasp, talking about meltdowns, tsunamis, cancers, radiation.  They speak with some confidence and feigned assurance.  Their words say, “I watch the news.  I know what is going on in the world.”  But their eyes, fixed on mine, tell a deeper truth.

Their eyes, blue and green and darkest brown, ask the one question that presses in on them, even when they do not know that it is there.

“Can you keep me safe?”

What do I tell them?


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