A few days ago M asked me if there were bad people everywhere. Without a second thought I told him that there were bad people all over, but they are outnumbered by all the good ones. Satisfied with my response he went back to his homework and I sat quietly with my thoughts and a heavy heart.
I knew what had prompted his question. It had been all over the news, on the front of papers and discussed by parents at the school gates. 22 lives had been taken far too soon by a suicide bomber in the Manchester Arena.
I had learned of the attack at 1.30am, several hours after it had happened. I had fallen asleep unusually early, before the attack and had missed any development on social media. But a message woke me at 1:30am and I sat reading Twitter with tears in my eyes. News was still uncertain and it was not confirmed what exactly had happened, so I eventually fell back asleep and woke to the full news the next day.
We try and shield M from news he doesn’t need and shouldn’t hear. But with all radio stations covering the story and it being inevitable that he would hear something, we kept conversations about the event to a minimum.
I spent two days on the edge of tears, firstly at the thought of those trying to find their missing family members, followed by tears for those discovering their family members had sadly lost their lives.
I wanted to hold M tightly at each moment and considered skipping his swimming lesson one evening, just so I could have that extra time with him. I wanted to take in every moment of him, because it suddenly felt so real how little time we could have with someone that means so much to us.
When I learned that one of those who had lost their lives was only 3 years older than M I was in tears again. A life taken at any time is a life taken too soon. But an 8 year old? A world where children are targeted somewhere they have gone to have fun, has the potential to cause fear in the daily life of a child if they recognise that some people are out to do harm no matter what.
Which is why I am going to work my hardest to make sure M doesn’t fear life. I want him to gradually learn about how to stay safe and vigilant, but I don’t want him to worry that at every event he attends there is the potential for harm. I want M to live his life and to forge his own path. I don’t want him to miss out on experiences through fear and I will do my best to not pass any of my fears on to him.
Once M is old enough to understand more about the world and the events within it I hope he will see why it was so important for me to make sure that he didn’t grow up in fear.