I always supervise the kids' TV time. I have nothing against TV since I'm always around to explain to them what's going on and we use the show to learn colors, numbers, shapes, values and many other things. But when I'm cooking dinner, the kids are usually playing with their toys so I switch the TV to the news so I can find out what's happening in the world.
Last night, Vito was playing with his LEGOs while Vince bathed Iñigo. I was preparing the pork chops so I switched to TV Patrol. Then I noticed that my 3-year-old boy had gotten quiet. I checked on him and saw that he had stopped playing and was watching the civil war in Zamboanga. Civilians were running helter-skelter, clutching at belongings like bags, electric fans and water jugs, holding babies and young kids close, fear in their eyes. Periodically, when gunfire erupted, they would stop running and drop to the ground or hide behind trees. My Vito was transfixed.
"Okay, honey, let's go watch Disney Channel!" I said brightly.
"No, Mama!" Vito cried. And I don't know why, maybe it was his voice or the stricken look in his eyes, but I didn't change the channel. Instead I sat down beside him to explain what's going on.
I told him about how the families were caught in a battle and that they needed to escape to somewhere safe so that they'll not get shot or killed. He pointed to a crying girl and asked, "Where mama? Where papa?" And I said, "I don't know, baby. Maybe the soldiers will find her mama and papa."
He watched a bit more while I explained a bit more but finally, I said, "Okay, enough. It's your turn to take a bath."
And my Vito sighed. I asked, "Are you okay?" He shook his head no. I asked if he was upset. No. Angry. No. Scared. No.
"Mama," Vito said quietly. "I'm sad."
I have friends who say they don't allow news programs and newspapers in their house to protect their kids from the sadness of this world. Since my kids don't read or even care for grown-up TV, I never censored anything. Until now. But until when? Sooner or later, they'll know that the world is a cruel, unjust and violent place. Sooner or later, they must know about it so that they'll do something about it.
But maybe for now, we can pretend that the world is safe. For just a little longer.