“I saw two aeroplanes dropping bombs over our preschool,” Jessie told me. “No planes have dropped bombs over Bergen since grandma was a baby,” I said. “That only happens in wartime, and luckily there haven’t been wars here for a very long time.”

“But E’s little sister is in hospital because a bomb took away her legs,” Jessie continued seriously. E’s mother told me yesterday about E’s imaginary little sister. It took me a while to realize that the imaginary little sister with the amputated legs and the bombs over the preschool represent these five-year-olds’ way of dealing with a very real, though in some ways distant threat: this is how news of the Boston bombings filters into children’s awareness. Doesn’t help that she didn’t hear it at home. I don’t think she heard it at home. Maybe she heard us talking when we weren’t thinking of her listening.

I can keep telling her that wars are all very far away. But bombs and danger aren’t necessarily.

Mostly, I agree with this cartoon that’s been making the rounds on Reddit and Facebook. But sometimes, turning off the television is not enough.


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