The nine-year-old I work with each week came in, sat in her chair, and proceeded to physically slump down in it. She exclaimed under her breath, her voice shaking, that "I don't want my family to be put into a shelter or have to leave the United States." I was momentarily speechless. As her eyes began to fill with real, genuine, tears of legitimate fear for her and her family, she looked at me, wrapped her arms around me and leaned her head into my shoulder, and said "Erica, would you take me in?". I assured her that I would not let anything bad happen to her and that I would protect her with everything and by any means I had. Not only did it crush me to watch such a beautiful child have such a fear and an emotional reaction, but it hurt to know that as a woman living in America, even a white woman, I cannot protect her any better than her parents can.
I went to pick up my five-year-old cousin form school today. The first thing he said to me when he got into the car was “Did you hear that Trump is our new president and that he hurts people?”. Again, I didn’t know how to respond. A child five or nine years of age’s first comment as you see them should not be about anyone hurting anyone, whether it is another kid at school or the newly elected President. Some may retaliate to the child’s words with, “but he hasn’t hurt anyone yet”. Is that entirely true, though? Because the five-year-old claimed that he said mean things, and words can hurt and so he hurt a lot of people. Tell me that that isn’t true, in any type of situation.
Educate them appropriately. Explain what you can to the best of your ability, and leave out the things that might damage them, until and unless they are absolutely necessary for them to know and/or to hear. Yes, they will hear things in school and on TV, but Trump is not the President just yet. He does not yet have the power to make the things these kids are afraid will happen to them, or that he himself has stated will make happen, actually happen. So until January 20th, allow your children to be children. For once, want them to come home from school and talk about how they did “nothing” or that they “don’t remember”. Don’t allow politics to be the only thing, or the most important thing, that they remember today, tomorrow, or every day after that. Let the kids be kids.
Protect your children. Tell them that you love them. But most importantly, make them feel safe in your arms, even if you cannot assure them that they will be safe in this country.