What a day of parenting!

A couple of months ago, I was in a conversation with some friends and Warren about Christmas for some reason.  Warren casually mentions, "Oh ya, I forgot to tell you Kate, I told Andie about Santa Claus."   My stomach dropped.  "What?  You did what and forgot to tell me?"   It turns out she begged for the TRUTH and he told her.  I get it.  She's 9 and has been asking for a while.   I just had a whole plan - which did happen eventually.   She's being an awesome Secret Santa for her little sister and it all still seems magical to me.  Yes, I fretted about the loss of innocence - but that conversation has nothing on the last 24 hours - actually just one of the last 24 hours.

We were walking into the US embassy today to pick up some mail and the kids immediately noticed the flag.  They asked me why it was half-mast and I chose to tell them the painful truth.  They had A LOT of questions which I answered in between assurances and reassurances of how they are safe here and they don't need to worry about this happening to them and how here in Fiji no one even has guns.   I lied when I told them that I felt like our friends and family were safe too and that really mass shootings are really very rare in the world (not so rare in the USA anymore, but I left that part out).   They were so confused and wondered why something like that could happen and I didn't have good answers.    I just talked about our role in taking care of others and helping when we can to make this world a better place.   We were in the embassy bathroom at this point talking over the stalls about all of this when Zoё washing her hands in front of the mirror says, "Look, I'm so fat.  I have a big belly."  What?!   Please don't drop this issue on me right now Zoё! One heavy issue at a time.  I start asking her why she believes such a thing while Andie is still in the stall asking how the mass shooter got so many guns.   Somehow I balance both conversations and Zoё conceeds that she's not actually fat while at the same time Andie talks about how she would have been a helper in the crowd.   

Then.... Zoё sees a OB tampon on the counter and immediately picks it up, asking, "What is this?"  So, I again talk about puberty with her and women's bodies and then that naturally leads to her asking me one more time, "Exactly what is sex again?," and she goes on to explain it to me before I can answer.   I only had to correct a few minor details and remind her that this is a private thing. 

We finally leave the embassy with our mail and just when I think, "Phew, that was a lot of heavy parenting - I hope I'm not screwing up my kids," Andie asks me, "Is it racist to mention a person's skin color when you describe them.   Of course, this leads to a conversation about what is racism and why are people racist to begin with?  They then ask me, "What should we call people with brown skin?  Do we call them black? Do we call them Fijian?"  So, we discussed different terms based on people's heritage and the origin of African-Americans.   This of course leads to a HUGE slavery conversation (which is probably overdue for Andie anyway) and the awful truth about America's history.   Both girls were shocked and asked many times if something like that could happen again.  Once more I offered many reassurances about their safety and reiterated their role as advocates in the fair treatment of all human beings. 

Whoa.   So, in about an hour and a half, we covered mass shootings/terrorism, gun control, healthy body images, puberty, sex, slavery, and racism.   I can only hope I have MANY more opportunities to discuss these issues with kids - just maybe not all in the same day.