Children: Look for the Helpers


“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers

I knew it, but I thought it would be my son, not my tough, pragmatic daughter. She came home from school and told me that she is very afraid of “sharks, lion fish, and bad men who want to blow up the subway.”

I asked her who told her that someone might blow up the subway.

“A,” she replied.

Ah, another eight-year-old girl.

I explained that we live in the suburbs now, and that we don’t use the subway, and that the likelihood that a terrorist might come to attack our little home on W Street is very very low.

She didn’t laugh. “They can blow up the whole subway!” she said. “We go downtown all the time! What if we get trapped? What if all the other people get trapped and then they come with bombs and bomb everything?”

I took a deep breath. I was so surprised it came from her and not her brother, who was playing Minecraft and completely disinterested at the moment.

  • No, they probably can’t blow up the whole subway.
  • We live in a good place, and we have systems in place, people in place, who will work to stop the bad guys.
  • And besides, most people are good.
  • Most people will help.
  • 80,000 people in France searched for two men who did a bad thing. Think of all the helpers. It will be okay.

It will be okay. Look for the helpers. Look at all the helpers.

And then the most remarkable thing happened. My son finally looked up, and I knew he was listening the entire time. Oh shit, I thought. I’m in over my head, and this is going to be good. He’s going to have some questions that I’m not smart enough to answer. But what he said surprised me.

“I’m going to be one of the helpers, mom,” he said.

And I wanted to weep because I know that my tough, sensitive little boy could very easily be one of the helpers one day.


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