This week’s FranklyStein is by guest blogger Lisa Snowden McCray who is the calendar editor for Chesapeake Family magazine and a mom..
“Turn the TV off!”
I was in the kitchen doing pre-dinner mom things earlier Tuesday evening, and my 7-year-old son Cameron and 5-year-old daughter Grace had just come into the house from playing outside with their dad. I had the television turned to the local news to catch up with what was going on in the city, and Cameron was not happy about it.
“I don’t want to see it anymore,” Cameron told me. “It’s scary.”
I felt horrible.
Most of Monday evening, we’d kept the television in the family room tuned to cartoons. But the television in our bedroom had been tuned into the local news, showing scenes of angry people clashing with armed officers and parts of the city burning. My husband and I didn’t hide the images from the kids, but we didn’t have it in their faces either. Clearly Cameron had taken in more than I thought he would.
I sat down and pulled Cameron onto my lap. I told him that some people were upset, but that everything was ok and that he was safe. He asked why the police he had seen had guns. I said that they had them to make sure that everyone was safe. He seemed to accept this, but I know from seven years of Cameron-parenting experience that he’ll bring it up again, and I will have to reassure him again. And that’s fine.
It’s so hard to know what to tell kids. Some things make no sense. Some things are so painful.
When a black man is killed by the police, I fear for my own children.
The facts in all of these cases aren’t always clear-cut. But, what is clear to me is that the world is not the same for my children because they are black. I know that they will have to face a world that is less fair for them, a world where people hate them without knowing them. I have to eventually explain that to them, just like my parents had to explain that to me, and their parents explained to them and so on and so on and so on.
Generally, my children don’t fear the police. I’ve never been the type of parent to tell them that I’d call the police to haul them away if they didn’t get their acts together. Plus their grandfather, my husband’s father, is a former Baltimore City officer and Maryland State Trooper. I don’t want them to fear the police. I don’t want them to fear this world.
It’s also worth noting that I’d actually attended Freddie Gray’s funeral in Baltimore earlier Monday before the clashes began. In addition to the work I do with Chesapeake Family, I am a reporter for a newspaper in Baltimore called the Afro-American. They asked me to interview people who attended the funeral to get their opinions on the case.
The funeral was sad, solemn and completely peaceful. I interviewed people who had never known Gray, people who just wanted to pay their respects. Every person I spoke to expressed the desire for peace. Every person I spoke with wanted better for the city.
If there is a positive note to end this on, I’d say that is it.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 16, Lilly, 14, Adam, 14, and Jonah, 10.