“What happened to an eight-year-old boy?” my daughter said on Tuesday morning. She is eight, too, and had swiped my phone – because, like most eight-year-olds, she wants and expects to know everything. She had read my latest text exchange, with a friend who was looking for one of their third-grade classmates. Their teacher had run the Marathon, and many of the kids had planned to stand along the route to cheer her on.
We were lucky, in our circle: the teacher was fine, the kids were fine, the parents who had run the race were fine. The frantic checking-in that consumed the first few hours after the explosion gave way to a strange and uncomfortable sort of calm. Now came the next phase: How to tell a child about a terrible thing, to give cheerful reassurances about her safety that are statistically true, but feel emotionally false?