"Are those the good people?"
I don't even remember what Beatrice and I were watching, but it was age-appropriate and her question was a good one.
"Yes, they are."
"Why are they doing that to the other people?"
I opened my mouth and hesitated. Because they're the bad guys, I thought. But was that really the right answer? The bad guys actually included some girls, too. Plus, the word bad is so subjectively loaded that, even for a six-year-old, I would end up simply over-simplifying it and stereotyping it.
For example, the world is much more complicated than that: Was it bad that if I had no other affinity or closeness with other family or friends, homeless and starving, and only a terrorist faction comforted me, providing food, a safe haven and security while systematically convincing me, a young girl, that those people over there were the real bad ones? And then shortly thereafter shooting those people right on the street, or even in their own homes? Or strapping wired explosives to my body to blow myself up in the local bazaar, or the neighborhood church, or an abortion clinic, or whatever.
Well, was it bad? It's not good or right, but bad?
But I said it anyway, because she is only six. "Because they're the bad guys, and the good ones are stopping them."
"Stopping them why?"
From doing bad things. "From hurting the good people. Most people are good in this world, Beatrice. But there are some people who just want to take things from others and hurt them because they're really unhappy or angry or believe they're doing the right thing, and will do whatever they have to do to get what they want."
Wait, what? I didn't expect this impromptu and dichotomous sociological questioning in that moment watching a children's show, although I shouldn't have been surprised either, since Beatrice's awareness and insight have been expanding dramatically.
I quickly added, "Sometimes good people do bad things when they're angry or sad or believe in something that's not quite right, and then sometimes are very sorry about it."
Silence. Then, "Oh, okay." And we were back to watching the show.
Not sure where all my babbling went with her. Of course we've had and continue to have the stranger-danger talks with both girls, and it's not okay to bully or be bullied talks, and the stay where I can see you talks, and the who can be in the bathroom with you talks, and the who can help you get dressed talks, and the how do you dial 9-1-1 talks, and the what is your address and phone number talks, and what to do if you get separated from us talks. All of the above and more.
However, the world is becoming more peaceful, believe it or not. Unfortunately media messiahs prey on our fears daily, skewing our world views. I've read multiple accounts the past few years of parents today remembering yesterday when they were children and ran around outside, without parental supervision, and walked, rode bikes or took city transit to school and back again. My sister and I did. Now many of us no longer let our children do the same, especially if we don't have to.
I'm not suggesting there aren't bullies, bad guys and girls out there still, because there are. Even with tethers intact, the Mama and I are teaching our girls to be bold yet aware, to protect themselves but not live in fear, to keep getting back on the bull like they own the beast, horns held tightly in hands.