PROCESSING THE UNTHINKABLE
May 26, 2022

Dear Harbor Families,

I had other topics in mind for today’s letter, but am finding myself compelled to share further thoughts about the horrific tragedy in Uvalde earlier this week.

As parents and teachers, we are processing something unthinkable (except that it has happened before, over and over again - also unthinkable), as we go through our day to day routines. Personally, although I’ve tried to stay away from too many of the images associated with the event, I can’t stop imagining what it would be like to find out that… I’ll stop there.

I’m a firm advocate for talking to kids about injustices, death, or tragedies, and to not hide things from them because we think they are too young to know or process. The fact is that most of the time, especially as they get older, they are hearing about challenging topics through a mention on the news that we thought they didn’t take in, or a short conversation with peers unheard by an adult. Though uncomfortable, sometimes bringing up difficult topics can allow us, as parents and teachers, to dispel myths, provide comfort and support, and even take advantage of a “teachable moment” about how to behave ethically or best respond to situations beyond our control.

However, with a senseless act such as this, I struggle to find any “teachable moment” for kids. So we decided to watch and wait, and check in to see if Emily or Jude had picked up on what had occurred, and if they had heard about it, to give them the facts and reassure them that they are safe.

Last night at bedtime, I asked Emily if she had heard anything at school that she had questions about, bracing myself to process any questions or worry that may have sunk in if it had come up at all today. But for her, yesterday was another normal and happy day at school, playing with her friends and learning with her teachers, and at least for now, she didn’t have anything big on her mind. 

I find myself in a sense of relief that at least my kids don’t know, quite yet, that these things can happen to children. I’ll check in again tonight - maybe something will come up and maybe not. Someday soon, when there is less attention in the news, I might bring it up so she has the facts when she does hear about it. But in the meantime, we’ll do our nightly homework, support friends at bedtime stories, and go to swim team tryouts - and hug just a little bit tighter.

As a school, we provide resources to support parents in how and when to talk to kids. In fact, this afternoon at 2 PM, our announced parenting session with Jen Cort and Jackie Beach is dedicated to discussing how to talk about complex issues with our kids. I certainly look forward to attending - and we hope you will be able to join us as well. We'll be in person in the Social Hall, or you can join us on Zoom.

Warmly,

Leah Musico
Head of School

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Harbor School