Spice Up Your Inbox. Subscribe Today.

enter your email address:


My 8-year-old daughter asked me about the Boston Marathon. I hadn’t mentioned it to her. In fact, I had carefully tucked the New York Post away so that none of my children would see the chilling cover photo.

But several of her friends had parents who ran in the marathon and at school, she learned about the explosions. And the bombs. And people who were hurt.

I tried to be as honest as possible without saying too much. My 6-year-old (who was listening) wanted to know the definition of a bomb. I did my best.

I tried to explain the tragedy as simply as possible. Of course, it’s impossible to really explain something I don’t understand myself. I told them there are a few bad people in the world but most of us are very good and will do anything to help a stranger in need.

“There are only two bad people in the world? You said a few. Isn’t that two?” my 6-year-old asked.

“There are more than two bad people,” I explained. “But there will always be so many more good people. That is what is beautiful about this world. We have to focus on all the good people.”

And I admitted that yes, people were badly injured.

I didn’t mention any deaths.

I didn’t mention a loving 29-year-old girl, a Chinese graduate student or a beloved 8-year-old boy named Martin Richard.

An 8-year-old boy who I am certain had a best friend, probably loved dessert and was thrilled to have the day off to watch the Boston Marathon.

I couldn’t bear to mention him.


8 Responses to boston

  • Steph says:

    Oh yes, it is sooo hard to talk to our children about the terrible things that happen to people, especially other children. At dinner, our 9 year old mentioned that one of her school’s teachers had run in the Boston Marathon. I froze, not knowing what she knew. She then said, “but the teacher didn’t
    get hurt.” oh the loss of innocence. I hate it. But I hate more the hurt endured by the victims of this terrible attack. Thank you for writing about it.

  • Leigh says:

    So Sad. I’m from the Boston area and it’s our school vacation week this week. It always starts off with Patriots Day and tons of people bring their kids to some point around the marathon route to cheer the runners on. Having an 8 year old son myself makes it harder to deal with.
    A bank was robbed 3x not far from our house. I said to my husband “I wonder if it is the same people” And my son said “there is more than 1 bank robber?” He thought the same robber hit all the banks and no one could catch him.

  • Patrick says:

    Your words capture perfectly the innocence of our children and the inevitable moment when they begin to learn of the terrible things a few people do to others. I thought your response to your girls was just what a loving mom should say. Thank you.

  • beachgirl says:

    Beautifully written :(…my 7 year old saw a clip on the T.V before I could turn off that channel and she too asked what happened…I briefly explained but like you I could not bear to mention that sweet 8 year old Martin Richard as I knew I would not be able to contain the tears if I had to speak about the murder of a child to a child. Its all so upsetting and getting too frequent here in the US.

  • Tricia says:

    I live in mass. It was Patriots Day and school vacation week. I was at work, but my 22 year old son was walking it with his ROTC group. He was at mile marker 21 when it happened. He was able to get home, but then got activated. He spent last night patrolling crime scene. I can’t wrap my head around any of this…

  • Karen Veronica says:

    Did you see the comments on facebook about suggestion to children that when something really terrible happens, always look and see the people who are helping. There are always people running to help those who are hurting. Maybe I can train my own eyes and heart to focus on this.

kelcey kintner