It’s Scotty, from The Imagine Neighborhood®. We’re still hard at work on new episodes coming next month, but for many of us who live in the US, the news on Wednesday, January 6, was hard to watch. So I wanted to write a note to you, the grown-ups, who I know care very much about the younger people in your lives, and ask: How are you?
I’m a parent myself. I am a proud, single dad to a second-grader who I love very much. Parenting is not an easy job, and the hardest days of parenting, for me, are days when the world seems topsy-turvy . . . unsure . . . scary. When something absolutely terrifying happens in the world, those are the hardest days to be a parent. How can I keep my family safe when I don’t know what might be around the corner? The last year has felt like that regularly; a global health pandemic will do that to you. And through it all, I’ve done my best to keep calm, keep consistent, and try to find little sparks of joy for my son.
Yesterday’s domestic terrorist attack in Washington, D.C. was also one of those days. While my son and I live far away from that particular moment of violence, there has been violence in my neighborhood over the past year. We live in scary times, and it’s not always easy for me to be the parent I want to be when there is so much uncertainty in the world. I’m wondering if you might feel this way sometimes, too?
I do have hope. If you look for it, you can see large and small acts of kindness, of joy, of spirit in the world. And you, our listeners, are a big source of joy and hope for me. I am heartened daily when I receive a picture that one of our listeners drew, or when I hear from a grown-up who had a conversation with their child about something they heard on our show. I hope you have moments of hope like that in your day. And I hope the good outweighs the bad.
In the past, we’ve made episodes of The Imagine Neighborhood about more timely events: the “Pixie Pandemic” episode was written to help parents discuss disappointment and frustration around COVID-19, and we’ve created episodes around race and justice after the murder of George Floyd. We’ve heard from some of you that those episodes were helpful when the world felt like it was turning upside down.
Right now, we’re actually working on episodes about justice, inequality, and racism that are at the core of what we feel a democratic education needs to have. Those episodes will start going out the first week of February. But we know that you may be looking for other resources to help you talk to your children. We do have several episodes about talking with your kids about difficult subjects and I hope you might find them useful. But in addition, you might find the following tips from Dr Sherri useful.
It is okay to feel scared. Different people show their feelings in different ways; maybe your child is acting more subdued or more energetic. Maybe you are as well. Talking about scared feelings, and acknowledging that they are okay, can go a long way.
Sometimes the scary feeling comes from not knowing what’s going to happen next. Our “Blurghsday 2” episode and subsequent Dr. Sherri interview dealt with this directly, and even though they’re not about this exact situation, you may find them helpful.
Many great organizations have created resources that do deal directly with the January 6th domestic terrorist attack. I found these two particularly useful.
When the world is scary, perhaps all we can say is that, yes, sometimes scary things happen. But there is kindness still in the world, and the world is worth being kind for. I don’t know if that’s the message you need for your families right now, but if there is something that would be helpful to hear from me, or Vac, or Doctor Apocalypso, or Macho Supreme, or Princess Donnasaurus, or any of our characters—we’d like to be there as best we can.
I know you’ll be there for your kids. And you’ll be able to help them through this scary time. There are more people who want to fix problems with kindness, cooperation, respect than those who want to fix problems with violence. Right now, the violent people may be louder, but there are more of us than there are of them.
Be well. Stay safe.