Friday, April 20, 2007


My father was a Hokie at one point in his life, so I’ve always had a soft spot for Virginia Tech (or VPI as Dad always called it). I wondered how he would have reacted to the events of earlier this week. As a Hokie, he would have been horrified. As an educator who considered all campuses sacred, he would have been frightened. As a parent, he would have cried (as I did).

One thing I didn’t worry about too much was how the Little Rankster would react. By and large, he just doesn’t pay too much attention to the news of the day. Then I read a post by my friend, Christina (a/k/a Good Rockin’ Mommy Guilt) on her new blog at Chicago Parent. (I have to say that the new blog really showcases what an exceptional writer she is.)

Christina posed the question of how one explains the horror of a day like the Blacksburg massacre to a child on the spectrum. And I had to think about it. Right now, my son is just too innocent to understand the concept of evil, but some day another tragedy will occur when he’s older ⎯ at a time when I hope he’ll have developed a true sense of empathy and realizes the horror of what has occurred. How can I possibly help him put it all in perspective.

After considering the dilemma, I realized I would tell the Little Rankster about the day he was born. I’d tell him of the joy that day brought to his mother and me. I’d tell him how the joy has remained undiminished ⎯ and has even grown with every day ⎯ despite the challenges his regression into autism brought. I’d tell him how proud of him I was on the day of his birth, and how proud I am of him every day of his life.

I’d spend hours telling him how full my heart is because of him. And then, I’d tell him how around the time of his birth (give or take a couple of hours), a couple of very sick young boys in a place called Columbine, Colorado, decided to insert themselves into the history of evil. I’d tell him of the heartbreak for the parents of those children whose lives were cut short by an unspeakable act. For those parents of Columbine, and now those parents of Blacksburg, the heartbreak is hopefully mediated somewhat by the joy their children brought them in life.

I thank God I haven’t had to face what the parents of the Virginia Tech tragedy are now going through. But that lack of experience gives me a perspective that allows me to understand that for every tragedy ⎯ even those of this magnitude ⎯ there are countless miracles that bring hope and joy. And the greatest miracle of all is love.

Happy Birthday, Little Rankster!


Blogger mommyguilt said...

Thanks for the compliments, Wade. And big birthday wishes for the Little Rankster!

I spoke to my dad about this today - after he read my post and he said, essentially, the same thing you did. He said that the best thing, he thought, might be to tell our guys is that the people who do these kinds of things were sick and that the miracles of life and love is what parents will have.

I was a bit worried, though, about the use of "sick," as that could tend to classify/label, etc...We could tell them that something wasn't wired correctly in these people's brains, but isn't that one of the ways used out there to explain to others...I know that's one I use...

So, to balance that out, Dad and I decided that if, in the end, it all came down to it, that perhaps we should just let them know that there was something that really bothered and angered the teens at Columbine and the student at Virgina Tech, and that they had no one to help them and support them.

I don't know the answers, but I am in complete and total agreement with you...Out of every tragedy come miracles of hope, life, and love...and yes, the greatest of these is love.

4/20/07, 12:54 PM  
Blogger Mamaroo said...

Happy Birthday Little Rankster!!!

Like yours my two are just too young and innocent and haven't seen the news, so I have not had to explain this tragedy to them. I like the way you plan on explaining the evil that is out there in this world one day. I believe I will use similar words when the time comes.

4/20/07, 3:08 PM  
Blogger kristina said...

Happy, happy birthday!

My in-laws have had the TV on non-stop and I am sure Charlie is aware that something is amiss. He has not shown it in obvious ways---but then, it was in the weeks following September 11, 2001, that he started to have struggles in the school he was in. I am certain he picked up on what everyone around him was feeling and saying.

Fortunately for us as in your household, our guys always bring the best joy.

4/20/07, 8:00 PM  
Blogger Maddy said...

Happy Birthday. I am 'more' fortunate, in that no questions have appeared as yet.

There again, around here, sometimes things percolate a while.

I'll be more prepared, if and when they come.

Best wishes

4/22/07, 12:28 AM  
Blogger Wade Rankin said...

I think the points Mommy G and her wise father discussed are pretty valid, especially considering the media’s coverage of some of the killer’s family saying he was autistic. For some same commentary on that subject, see what Kim Stagliano and Ginger had to say. In the meantime, I’ll be working on some way of explaining that some people seem to carry more than their fair share of evil within themselves.

By the way, Little Rankster had a fine birthday. Thanks for the good wishes.

4/22/07, 1:32 PM  
Blogger María Luján said...

Hi Wade
Very glad that Little Rankster had a fine birthday with family.
All the best for him in this new year.
María Luján
PD: Sorry by the delay

4/22/07, 5:07 PM  
Blogger Ian Parker said...

I would also like to with the Little Rankster a Happy (belated) Birthday.

It is great to hear that he had a fine birthday.

4/23/07, 4:46 PM  
Blogger Ian Parker said...

At three, the Virginia Tech situation is still above the Bear's head, but having to explain that horror exists to any child must be a heartbreaking experience.

We had a bit of a scare ourselves today. I received a phone call at work from the Bear's IBI program that everyone had been evacuated to a nearby park because of a nearby gas leak. Everything appeared to have gone smoothly, and the Bear quite liked getting to play on the swings and slides. But from a parent's POV there is always a potential worry around the corner. There are too many nightmares out there. Fortunately I don't have to explain this one either.

4/23/07, 4:55 PM  
Blogger MOTHER OF MANY said...

My little one is still only aware of her own little world but my older girls who are on the spectrum have discussed the situation endlessly and feel great frustration. They are angry that something bad has happened and they know that it was really wrong but the frustration comes from the fact that they can not make it right.

4/25/07, 5:20 PM  

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