Our Story Begins:
When Reality Eclipses Fantasy
There are dozens of things you think might be the craziest, hardest, most confounding things you have to explain to your kids.
Why does the toilet flush the other direction in another hemisphere; how does our brain make memories (my son actually asked this one).
What do I tell the kids about their dad having a girlfriend? That’s a big one on my mind.
Never, though, when I first started this parenting thing 21 years ago, did I imagine a world like the one where we are now. None of this was too hard. Even “the talk” about sex, love, birds, bees, none of it was as scary as the last few months have been as a parent.
****WARNING . . . WARNING . . . SENSITIVE EYES READ NO FURTHER**** Actual events described below:
In the last few weeks I’ve had to have discussions with my own children about what’s in the news, particularly because I WORK in news.
It isn’t the reality of terrorism or the pull-out of Russian troops in Syria.
No, our tv’s have been filled with another craziness. Let’s just go down the list of things I had to explain to my kids because they are everywhere:
- Erin Andrews’ lawsuit against a hotel chain. This one, believe it or not, I didn’t mind. It’s a teaching moment. Women are wonderful, beautiful, smart, fun, exotic, all that. They are not pieces of meat and they are to be respected and this was terrible and it should never have happened. Great. Easy. Right? Well. . . then came:
- Hulk Hogan Suing Gawker. Let’s just try to explain this one to a couple Middle Schoolers. A former WWE (or was that WWF? TNA? WTF?!) wrestler who positioned himself in pseudo-kid movies occasionally…sues because a tape of him having sex with another married guy’s wife . . .while that guy videotaped it surreptitiously . . . leaks out. Now every detail of that, drug use, and all the other proclivities are analyzed in full detail on the news channels.
- Madonna pulls down a 17-year-old’s shirt and exposes the girl’s boob onstage. I don’t even have a way to explain this one. The girl says it didn’t bother her saying she didn’t think her boob was such a big deal. Just a hint, it wasn’t you boob, it was the boob who exposed it that everyone has an issue with.
All these things, though, explanations pending, pale in comparison to what I never expected to have to explain to my kids.
- Presidential Election and Debate. Politics are usually boring. This last few weeks, though, I’ve had to endure one candidate talking about tiny hands and that implication; then the actual candidate himself go on a tirade about his own penis size. We had shouting, screaming, hollering and then a candidate who made an announcement that he’d won a primary look at the very media who cover him – people like me – and call them all “disgusting.” My children all asked about his penis size…why that mattered…why he hates people like me…and why it even would come up in a presidential election.
I honestly couldn’t answer some of those questions. Being in the media and being disliked isn’t new for me, that’s par for the course. Explaining the genitalia? I can’t. At the end of the day I had to explain to my children that all the candidates, in all parties, were sinking to a level that none of us could ever have expected. Nobody looked at Linclon and Douglas and said “Hey…Douglas’ hat is a lot smaller than Abe’s. You know what that means right?!”
At the end of the day I began to realize that reality is sometimes far more frightening than the fantasy worlds my kids inhabit, both in television and their video games. I turned off the TV, my kids asking if they could play on the Wii system in our house.
Yes, I told them. For the love of god . . . please do!