My kids’ response to the Eric Garner case…

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December 6, 2014 by rebelwithalabelmaker

This is why my kids are so lucky to have more than just me steering this parenting ship.

“Who is Eric Garner?” asked Anthony, in response to something Gary and I were talking about.

I quickly recounted the story ending with “and then he died.” I didn’t even get to the part about the lack of indictment when I looked over to see my son looking at me with blank horror, and beginning to shriek. His whole body crumpled, and he slid onto the floor, sobbing with this horrible sick sound coming from his gut. I picked him up and carried him to the couch, trying to reverse what I had done.

“Mom.” Eric said. “He doesn’t know the world is like that. You have to be careful.”

“But there’s been protests… and there’s a twitter hashtag… and…” I said frantically, trying to put a better spin on the whole thing.

There is no spin to be had.

“Mom!” Anthony sobbed, “That story is VERY HORRIBLE!!”

I know that non-white parents have to start having safety conversations with their boys when they reach the age my kids are at, and I resolved I wouldn’t leave the ball entirely in their court. I resolved to have fix-the-problem-at-the-root conversations with my white children.

I had no idea it would be so hard. I had no idea how soul crushing it is to tell your kid that this is how the world is. I had no idea how tempting it would be to just stop talking (because it’s not my kids’ lives on the line–so I have that option). And, having committed in my mind to saying something, I had no idea how absolutely terrible I’d be at it. I had no idea what to do when the inevitable horror filled my kid’s face.

This is why they need more than just me.

Gary walked over to Anthony, who was now curled on the couch, with his arms over his head, sobbing, and picked him up.

“I know how you feel.” he said. “That’s exactly how I felt inside when I heard this story. I’m so sorry. I’m just so sorry.”

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