Eight

"An eight year old boy died, Mama," my eight year old son said to me. He was looking at his feet.

"And, like, 256 people were injured. It was a nuclear bomb, I think. Obama's looking for the bad guy, but there are too many people in the world. I don't think he'll find him."

I wasn't ready to hear those words come from my eight year old son's mouth. The mouth that currently is a mess of tiny milk teeth and way-too-big adult teeth. So I looked at the floor too. All I could think of was to ask him why he thinks that happened.

"I read it on the TV."

Of course. He can read. He's not a baby. We were out running errands in our little town center, and while people were especially kind and I caught strangers looking at my sons and making the mental calculations -- eight, that's what eight looks like -- the news was everywhere. People stopped talking as we entered shops and turned the volume down on the televisions, but the screens kept rolling the news ticker with the awful truth.

An eight year old boy from Boston is dead.

My eight year old boy from Boston is safe. But he was so afraid. And while I'm not afraid, I was sad -- and now I'm sadder because he knows.

I don't have any wisdom to share. I didn't come up with a sage answer to soothe his fears. All I could do was tell him that, yes, a bad person did a bad thing and a boy died. But that he and his brothers and his friends are safe. And that they will find the bad person that did this, because there are more good people in the world than bad. And, um, how do you know about nuclear bombs?

And then, I had to ask something of him.

"You can talk to me and Papa about this and anything you hear about it. You have nothing to be afraid of. But can you not tell your brothers? It might scare them too much."

"Okay, Mama," he said.

I could see the sadness in his eyes. I hate that he has to know. I hate that he has to protect the innocence of his younger brothers.

And then he tickled me so he could free himself from my arms and went outside to play.