Paris, Because

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last 24 hours, you know about the violence in Paris.  When I started seeing the news alerts and Tweets last night, I hoped it wasn’t as bad as it turned out to be.  But, as the night wore on, it was clear it was bad.  And, it was also clear it could have been worse.

My daughter is 9 years old and she’s been to Paris twice.  I went to my wife when the news started to get more serious and posed the question.  Do we tell our daughter?  When’s that right age to show them the blemishes of society along with all the wonderful things the world has to offer?  It felt like the type of thing we should discuss with her.  We were comforted by the fact that she handled the riots in Greece during our recent trip in a rational way, asking good questions about the violence and fighting.  And, we’d discussed 9/11 with her.

Well, it was definitely emotional.  There were a few small tears but she rebounded quickly when we showed her pictures of solidarity around the world.  In the end, we felt like it was the right decision to open her eyes a bit more to the world around her.

I can recall walking around lower Manhattan about 45 days after 9/11, a place I’d been so many times as a child and adult.  It was very tough to process, mostly because of the silence on the streets as we all absorbed the profoundness of the losses suffered.  But, New York, the USA and the world were able to move past it, to rebuild in a way, and mourn in other ways.

And, while there’s plenty of bad news and images out there today, I choose to focus on a few of the brightest moments I saw over the past 24 hours:

Paris

Paris

View From The Wing On Why He’s Still Going To Paris.

And, Mommy Points on the beauty that is Paris.

And, one of my favorite pictures from our recent Paris trip.

Paris

The French bestowed upon us the larger version of this statue and she looks over lower Manhattan, vibrant as it recovers from the attacks of the past.  The smaller version now looks over a city just starting its own recovery.  That recovery will succeed.

Because, liberty.

4 Comments

  1. You know, at my age, I should totally be considering the difficult choices parents have to make about the world, but I was trying to understand myself. Your post was rather appropriate. I was heartened (if that is a word) to see the solidarity with France last night and today. But, all too often, I think we recall that we ourselves were in this place or that (I know I felt that way about the Bangkok Erawan Shrine bombing a month or so ago), and it is hard, personally, but to try to explain that to a child, I couldn’t even imagine. I think its a tribute to your and Michelle’s parenting that your daughter was able to understand and talk about it.

    And just because you brought up 9/11, I’ll be candid, I’m still not terribly comfortable talking about it myself. Again, a tribute to you and Michelle, to be able to.

    One final comment: I said I was heartened by the response. But the fact is, as you appropriately stated, France stood with us on 9/11, We–all of us–should stand with France now. I just wish I could think of something more important to do to show that solidarity.

    1. Trevor, thanks for weighing in. I find these moments of parenting both exceptionally difficult and fulfilling at the same time. I’ll reciprocate your candid comments with my own. Even now when I think about walking around lower Manhattan back then, my throat tightens. And, I’m sure we both know others who suffered more painful losses.
      We all wish our children could grow up in a world without terror. That wish will likely not come true. Our only other choice is to confront these issues and make sure our children are informed, not scared to explore. I, too, wish there was a more compelling way to stand with the people of France today. And, maybe, just maybe, that’s enough.

  2. Thanks Ed, our world through the eyes of children: we understand from her that we can and will and must rebound and that the world’s solidarity is our personal own. Thanks.

    1. Randy, watching that cycle of emotions in my daughter’s face was both painful and uplifting. And, by bedtime, she wanted to work tomorrow so she could donate some money to charity(they’re learning about pediatric cancer in school). So, the ship continues to sail through the dark of night to another beautiful sunrise.

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