Herod and I — We’re Jerks

We’re trying to fight the media-oric power of Santa’s publicity machine and teach Laylee and Magoo that Christmas is actually a religious holiday with fun attached as a festive bonus. Some days we win and sometimes the kids get all “Manger, what? Maybe I’ll care if you tell me it was full of liquid sugar.”

So tonight for family night I asked Laylee to tell us all the Christmas Story minus the reindeer, elves and abominable snow people. She asked me for a refresher and using the Little People as props, I took her through the basics.

When we got to the sinister part where Herod told the wise guys to come and tell him when they’d found Jesus because he wanted to worship him too, Laylee went into full panic mode. “I don’t like this part. I hate this story. He wanted to hurt the baby! I don’t like this part. I don’t want to tell it.”

She completely lost control and started shaking and bawling. Holding her in my arms trying to comfort her fear, I told her it was okay because he didn’t get to harm the baby. God protected Jesus and told the wise men what Herod had up his sleeve. She didn’t care if the baby got hurt or not. It was enough to know that someone was evil enough to want to do it. It was too scary.

We’ve talked about this story a bazillion times before and she’s never been bothered by it. When we get to the Herod part, she usually flinches, gives little smile and shakes with pretend fear and a look that says, “Phew! That was close.”

What was different today?

Adult things. I’ve been talking about hairy scary adult things for days, flooding, sadness, homelessness, despair, destruction, death and loss. To her I explained the disaster in a way a 4-year-old could understand. I gave her the Bambi version. “Bambi. Your mother can’t be with you anymore.”

Then I proceeded to watch news footage, talk on the phone with friends and family and cry about what I’d seen. “Bambi. Your mother can’t be with you anymore.

“Hey Thumper, don’t tell Bambi that his mom was brutally murdered by a faceless thug with a shotgun. They’re everywhere these days. It makes me cry just thinking about it. Bambi will likely be the next to go but don’t tell him. It may stress him out.

“Like I told you B, your mom’s gone on a long vacation but everything is juuuust peachy.”

I got her calmed down with sugar cookies, something I never thought I’d hear myself say, and I now pledge to be more protective of her innocence. She’s a baby in a world that wants her to grow up way too fast and she’s not deaf and I am not equipped with a soundproof telephone booth in which to cry and muse about the horrors and tragedies of this world in her presence.

She seemed to bounce back quickly, although her mental state is altered to the point that she’s now convinced she’s a feline and will only answer to sentences that begin with the word “Meow.” But then I’m not sure that particular disorder has anything to do with me, floods or evil biblical kings. She may just be four.

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