It's a constant struggle in my house... television news viewing. It's a requirement for my job, not so much a requirement for my daughters. In fact, there's plenty on the news I would never want them to see or hear at their ages.
One day this week, during what I call the "morning rush," I left the television on a bit too long while I was multi-tasking. Pack a lunch here, sign a note there, read emails, flip through the newspaper, shout things out loud like: "finish your breakfast," "put your homework in your backpack," "brush your teeth." The pace is maddening.
In the midst of packing lunches, I looked up and saw my six-year old staring at video of a killer whale in a SeaWorld pool. She asked, "Mommy, what happened?" Big sigh. That's always the giveaway to the girls, whatever it was I was about to say was NOT good.
At that moment and thanks to my never-tell-a-lie policy, I felt I couldn't sugarcoat it. "A killer whale killed its trainer," I said in my typical direct manner -- the one my husband always wishes I could soften a bit. Immediately, my daughter responded with a sad face, "I'm sure the whale didn't mean to do it."
Then we started talking about what the word "captivity" means. After all, she wanted to know why the whale was in the pool in the first place. So here I am broaching the controversial topic of animals in captivity. By the end of our conversation, I'm pretty sure my inquisitive daughter had no desire to visit SeaWorld or any other place like it. I even tried to explain the wonderful things that happen at conservation programs across the country, but she had made her mind up on this topic.
After she left for school, I wondered if I handled her questions appropriately. This was the same kid who just days before asked me if you had to be married to have a baby. So I thought… where is that book? You know -- the one that has all the correct answers to your kids’ questions. Then my babysitter chimed in. She pointed to the TV and said, "You know she’s right. They're saying the whale grabbed the trainer by her ponytail, so technically the whale didn't mean to do it." Yep.
In the future, I’ll be more mindful of what’s on the TV during the morning rush. And if anyone knows where I can get a copy of that book – the one with the right answers – please let me know.
Aysu Basaran is the busy mom of three girls and assistant news director for WRAL-TV.