Around the time of the New Zealand earthquake, we started putting together our earthquake kit. Way overdue, I know, considering we live in Los Angeles.
I hadn’t planned on including my 4 year old in the kit preparations. Why scare her? Did I really want to sit her down and tell her that sometimes, out of the blue, the ground beneath her can start shaking… violently? It seemed like worry that I didn’t need to place in her happy, carefree mind. So, we just told her that the kit was full of things we might need in an emergency, like if the water and power ever went out at our house for a few days.
Then the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.
We knew she was bound to hear about it. It was time to address it. My husband and I wanted to give her enough information so that she could begin to process. Of course, her first question was: Can it happen here? Ugh. I knew that would be the first question. We answered her honestly, but then we told her about all the things we can do to make sure we stay safe at home and all the things she can do to stay safe at school.
Her next question was: Are all the people okay? The truth is, there are a lot of people—too too many—who are not okay. We decided not to elaborate on this subject but to leave it at: “Some of the people are not okay. The police and firefighters are working hard to help the people who are hurt and scared.”
There is a fine line between telling kids too much and giving them enough information. By that I mean, useful, constructive information—information they can actually do something with. The last thing I want to do is create a little worrier. I’m a big worrier, and I don’t recommend it to anyone.
Life is going to throw each of us a ton of curveballs. I hope that I can prepare my child to take all things in stride, never panic and live each day to the fullest.
PS: In my earthquake kit research, I found a really useful website: http://72hours.org. Just in case you need to build a kit for your family.