The “Real” World

My heart is so heavy. All I hear in the news anymore is talk about war, military strikes, and governments who can’t agree with other governments – or even their own people, for that matter. Everywhere I look I see unhappiness, strife, and struggle.

This morning, I got to thinking. Why is it that we are in such a hurry to grow our children up? People talk about the importance of exposing children to the “real” world to prepare them for it. But, why? When I look into the eyes of my children, I see pure innocence. They are so happy and care-free. They run and play, free from the burdens that we, their parents, must struggle with on a daily basis. To them, the world is still magical and wonderful. They dress up and pretend to be grown ups. To them, the idea of growing up still holds so much potential. They believe that can do anything and be anything they want.

On the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, my second grader asked me what happened on that day 12 years before. I weighed heavily what I would say. I finally decided to keep it brief. I simply said, “Well, sweet heart, some very mean people did some very bad things that day, and as a result many, many people lost their lives. It was a very sad day.” She expressed her concern for the people who were harmed, and we were able to talk about the importance of having a relationship with Jesus so we can be assured of our place in heaven, because we never know when we may die. I also encouraged her to pray for the “mean” people (all the “mean” people in the world who harm others, not just one group). And she went on with her happy, curious, sweet little life.

Later, I found myself wondering if perhaps I should have told her more. Was I watering down the truth? Should I have enlightened her about religions and extremists who promote the harming of those who disagree? Should I warn her that there are people who would like to see our family dead because of our religious values? Does she need to know that the “real” world is full of adults who make war with one another while preaching love and tolerance? I think I answered my own questions. There is absolutely no reason why she needs to be awakened to those things at such a young age. The time will come all too soon when the reality of the “real” world becomes known to my children; why force it? Why not let them live in a world of innocence, enchantment and adventure for as long as they can? The purity of innocence is such precious gift, and is taken from our children far too soon. Let’s do all we can to preserve it for them.

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