Marathons, Emergency Preparedness, and Kindness

It’s marathon Monday and my daughter woke up to the sound of thunder. She came running out of her room and asked if it was okay. Six years after the Boston marathon bombings she is still on edge about the “bad things” that happened that day. Although she was not in Boston the day of the marathon the fact that it was so close to where we live affected her and still does.

Every year she makes us turn the marathon on tv. It’s not the runners she wants to see but it’s the police officers and police dogs lining the route. She feels safer knowing they are there and every year she claims there are more of them than the year before.This year, six years later, she asked me if they checked all of the backpacks.

The days following the marathon bombing were scary to all of us let alone a child that is already filled with a ton of anxiety. Lucky for us we were not in one of the areas that were told to shelter in place when the police were looking for the men that set off the bombs. Sometimes I wonder how my daughter would have reacted if we were.

This past week our local Sepac held a presentation about emergency preparedness for people with disabilities and touched upon being prepared for times when you are told to shelter in place or evacuate. The speaker made two comments that stood out in my mind. First, he said in an emergency the disabled and the elderly are the two groups with the most fatalities. Second, he said that know one knows how they will react in a real emergency until it actually happens. We were given emergency preparedness kits and advised on things we could do to better ensure the safety of our children with disabilities. What scares me the most however if my child is in an actual emergency and has to run is that she will get separated and lost. That is something that you can’t put in an emergency kit.

With that thought on my mind I used today to talk about some unpleasant things. Things that no one really wants to talk about with their child. I thought it would be a chance to talk about when “bad things” happen. I asked her what she would do if there was an emergency and she had to run and got lost? I asked what she would do at school. I asked what she would do at home. She told me I was scaring her and she didn’t want to talk about it because she would have nightmares. She did say however, if she ever got lost she would call someone. Enough said. I stopped talking about scary things and finished our conversation on a more positive note. We ended with the understanding that “bad things” don’t happen very often. And when they do, as the speaker at the presentation said, good people step up and help.

We also talked about the good things that come out of bad things. Here in Boston there have been many funds set up to help those injured, there have been scholarships set up and charitable donations. We talked about the days following the marathon when her elementary school stepped in and had all of the kids trace their hand and decorate it. The teachers put all of the hands together and made them into paper chains. They delivered them to the hospitals in the area where those injured from the marathon were being treated. The motto was, “Hands helping hands, helping me, helping you.”

One Boston Day was created in Boston after the marathon bombings. It is a day designated as a day of doing simple acts of kindness. In our house we use this day to donate to an orphanage that my daughter likes to follow. Some years we send supplies, other years we send a donation. My daughter makes sure that every donation includes a picture of her hand that she has traced.

The marathon is over. We have made it through another Boston Marathon Monday. What started out as a scary morning filled with thunder and rain turned into a day of counting a years worth of change and making a donation to help children in need. Kindness, a lesson my daughter learned six years ago. Kindness, one of the best lessons she could ever learn.

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