How Do You Explain Murder To A 3-Year-Old?

September 23, 2016  |  

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I’m nearly in tears as I write this. All night I was plagued with deciding whether or not to talk to my three-year-old about what is going on in the world. Since the news of her existence I’ve planned to raise a strong, confident and conscious Black girl. Three-years-old is a complicated age for children, and parents, so it seems. We smoothly transitioned from the “terrible two’s” into “emotional threenager.” Everyday my daughter is discovering and understanding more about herself, and others, and the world.

So how in the world do I explain murder?

As a little Black girl living and learning the world, I stress to my daughter Lyric that she is as important as anyone else.

I feed her self-affirming messages and lessons daily.

I teach her that she has reign over her person, and no one can put their hands on her if she doesn’t want them too.

I tell her she doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone if she doesn’t feel like it, family members or otherwise.

We debate about whether she should hit her “friends” back at school or not, something she refuses to do. It nauseates me to think my daughter is internalizing the message that people can do what they want to her, and she just has to take it. It is sickening that this very message extends beyond her peers hitting her or snatching something away for her to our global society. A message that reads her life can easily be taken at the hands of the people we pay to protect us. A message written in blood-red ink. A message waiving high a mast every government building, reminding me that if my daughter or I should be murdered justice will not ring through the land.

The sound of bullets and bodies hitting the floor is deafening though. The piercing silence of white people everywhere, cowering in racism (or shame) as innocent blood is splayed about and soaked into cursed land.

What do you tell a three-year-old child about this world?

How do I consciously and intentionally rip her from her innocence? To blacken her heart and bitter her sweetness towards others, even those she is hurt by, is something I can’t bring myself to. To let her continue to live in the naivety that nice, means nice, and things are not defined by skin color is something I cannot allow myself to do.

What do you do? What do we do?

My reality, and the reality of Black, and truly, all ethnic people is that there is no way to have these conversations without tainting and jading our children. There is no way to explain the era we are in without inciting deep and ugly emotions of fear, and hurt, and confusion. These things are too big of a burden to bear for any human, young or old. As these thoughts, and waves of emotions consume me, I am still unsure as to what, if anything, will be said.

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