All of Our Children

We are respecting our parents’ wishes...They didn’t want to shelter us from the world’s treacheries. They wanted us to survive them.
— Lemony Snicket, The End

We all want our children to be safe. We say little prayers as they enter the world, protect them as they grow, and then lift our thoughts to the universe when we send them out on their own. 

Yesterday morning after I woke up I glanced at my phone and the first message I saw was this: Maggie C. marked herself safe during Brussels Explosions. Maggie, the youngest daughter of a friend of mine and a good friend of my son’s, is currently studying in Vienna. I then quickly searched the news to learn of the explosions in the Brussels airport and train station. Betsy, Maggie’s mother, posted a short note to state Maggie had been traveling to Brussels, but she was safe. My mind then raced to two of my former students who were also studying abroad this semester, Maddy in Paris and Haileigh in Madrid. I sent them Facebook messages and both replied back within hours to reassure me they were safe.

Safe. I shed tears for them and their parents, but then I realized the breadth of this tragedy and other recent cowardly acts. Other people’s children were not safe. Their lives were inexplicably altered by evil acts committed against humanity. This world is scary and dangerous…yet magnificent and glorious. It is full of paradoxes. Light and dark.

We all pray to whatever god we have in our hearts to protect all the children, but sometimes it isn’t enough. Children get hurt. Children get sick. Children are taken from us in tragic ways. Our gut instincts as parents is to run to them with arms wide open because this world is full of peril, yet we know we have to let them go…to grow, to explore, to learn, to live. They may totter at the top of the steep stairs as we look up helplessly, but we tell ourselves we taught them how to maneuver the steps on their own.

And so I close my eyes with hope for the future, a prayer for peace, and a warm embrace of all children out there who are attempting to venture out into the unknown. Be safe, my children. Be safe. Hold each other’s hands as you cross the street. We’ll be waiting for you.

“Continuing to not live in fear and preach love and peace as always.” - Maddy’s Facebook message to me from Paris