Frivolty in the Face of Tragedy

So.  The day after I post a story about my over-reaction to a water main break on my street, the earthquake and related chaos and possible nuclear meltdown occurs in Japan.  I feel like an asshole.

How do you talk to your children about such things?  Mine are at an awkward age where they are aware, but cannot understand the magnitude or the likelihood or otherwise that it will happen to them.  They are also highly imaginative.  I have not been watching any coverage when they are around. 

I feel it’s best to focus on ways to help.  I think that reacting in a positive way is best, because kids are not only perceptive but also naturally want to know that there is a solution.  And while there may not be a solution, exactly, there are ways to help.

I recently read something about a man who had received compliments on his child, and those compliments included the word “lucky”.  He responded very indigantly and in an offended manner, that luck had nothing to do with it; essentially he is a superior parent.  My initial response to this is that buddy, if someone is complimenting you, take the damn compliment.  We live in a society, people.  Also, I do believe that parenting has a lot to do with how your children turn out, a lot, but I also believe in karma and fortune.  I have been very fortunate – I have two wonderful, healthy, smart children, I have very few worries and concerns – and I count my blessings every damn day.  I count my blessings that I live in a place where being cold and crappy are the biggest weather-and-geographical related issues, rather than being in a place that is earthquake/tsunami/hurricane prone.  I count my blessings that I am able to sit at my laptop and bitch about my water being turned off for two hours, that I have my family and that we are all together, all safe and healthy. 

And now I’m going to sign off and go play with my beautiful children and revel in my sheer luckiness.


  1. No need to feel like an asshole! You didn’t know that there was an earthquake about to happen. And, as my hubby says, everyone needs something to “complain” about. And everyone’s something is different. People say what they know. 🙂 Chances are, someone in Japan was upset about being without water for a couple of hours at the same time that you were. 🙂

    We told our boys about the earthquake and tsunami and we encouraged them to talk about it with their friends at school. Daniel was concerned about the tsunami getting to us and wondering what we’d have to do…we assured him that it wouldn’t make it over the mountains. 😉

    I want them to be aware that stuff happens and I want them to see how Jon and I deal with things so that when they are adults, they will be able to act in a calm, appropriate manner for their own children. I am pretty sure that the first time I was aware of a tragedy in the world (as an adult), I was freaked right out and felt panicky and could not stop thinking about what I NEEDED to do RIGHT THIS INSTANT to not face certain death. I’m pretty sure that that tragedy for me was 9/11.

    Sorry, this got a lot longer than I meant for it to get!

    I hope you are having a good weekend. 😀

  2. I won’t lie…that day I felt very emotionally distraught. I haven’t watched the news in forever so I had no idea what happened in japan. My mom told me about it and I felt like a douchecanoe. Sigh…we are so very lucky.

  3. Yes, honestly, every time we’re whining about something (people like you and me) the subtext is that we know how lucky we are and that we don’t have anything REAL to complain about. But if you go around chirping about how fortunate and blessed we all are (and no shit luck plays a HUGE part in how great my kids are — Angus could have gotten my sports ability! Eve could have inherited my inability to add four and seven!) someone’s just going to up and club you one. Of course, then I guess you would have something real to complain about…sorry, I’m being frivolous. You just do what you can and keep being who you are…(various other platitudes).

  4. It is hard to explain certain things to kids when they are young. I haven’t said anything to my daughter about the event because I don’t know what to say to her. She often freaks out about things and becomes very scared so we have to be careful what we tell her. I don’t think you should feel bad about complaining about the over-reaction on your street about the water.

  5. Very true! And a good outlook. We are so very fortunate & it’s good to be reminded of that.

  6. I agree with Amber, there’s no reason to feel like an asshole. The biggest thing going on in our lives at this very moment is the biggest thing going on in our lives at this moment. The next day, a world tragedy was. There is always something bigger than us & it’s good to have perspective, to appreciate how lucky we really are.

    For example, we heat our house with wood heat. It sucks, there’s only 1 fireplace & it’s far away from my bedroom, so our room is effing cold. Like see your breath when you sleep, ice on the inside of the windows cold. There are people that would freak out & refuse to live like that.

    But in December 09, a high school girlfriend of my husband’s went on a short climb up Mt Hood. She died up there, from exposure, with her two male climbing buddies.

    I spent so much time thinking about how she must have felt, waiting for rescuers that never came that I can no longer say “OMG I’m freezing to death!” when I complain about my craptastic bedroom. And trust me, I said it a lot.

    My bedroom isn’t any less God-awful in the winter & people aren’t suddenly lining up to stay here with me, I just feel like a child now saying that sentence.

    Ugh, sorry for the long post. I totally need my own blog or something 😉 I just would HATE for someone I enjoy so much online & who makes my day-to-day better to feel like an asshole.

  7. Oh yeah, this is the 1st tragedy like this I’ve really discussed with my children. Girl child was 4 when 9/11 happened & the Indonesian tsunami came & she 7 & her brother was 3. My son is the most empathetic person I’ve ever met in my life, I am therefor very careful about what I share with him.

    But my daughter, now 13 next week, dreams of Japan. She has a penpal there, is working to be an exchange student to Japan, all her hobbies revolve around Japan. It was hard telling her, but I knew I needed to. I have controlled the photos & videos they’ve watched & I don’t let the news stay on all day.

    BUT now they’re both coming up with fund-raising ideas. And nothing in the world could make me prouder than my children willing to give up so much for people in need, even if they’re 1/2 way around the world.

  8. As you saw on Twitter, my aunt is in Japan right now with her family. Her emails to us really make it hit home how dire things are and she’s miles away from it all.

    She sent photos of the damage to her sister’s house in Tokyo which is four hours (I believe) away from the epicentre. There are rolling blackouts because Tokyo Electric is having problems maintaining electricity so they have no heat at night and her father had to walk three hours in the pitch dark (no street lights) from downtown Tokyo to a place where his wife could pick him up as there are no trains running (they’re all electric as well). If it’s that bad many hours from the quake zone I can only imagine how terrible it is closer. Apparently they are still experiencing constant mini-quakes which is very scary for everyone over there.

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