Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Disasters can be fun!

Are your kids disturbed by the heightened state of terrorism alert we're supposed to be under right now? Mine, I'll admit, are pretty oblivious. Maybe these are some of the blessings of being language delayed, as my daughter is, or spending a lot of time in a fetal-alcohol-effects-inspired alternative universe, as is the case with my son -- in both those cases, you miss a lot of what's going on in the real world, and the real world being what it is these days, that ain't so bad.

I don't really have the heart to force them to sit and pay attention and absorb the full horror of events like 9/11 or impending war or the space-shuttle explosion. They hear a little, but most of it goes over their heads. If I ever do want to put them into a panic, though, I know just where to go: the Federal Emergency Management Agency's perky pages for kids. On bright Web screens that glow with sort of an "elevated alert" yellow, kids can learn about National Security Emergencies, read up on terrorism, figure out what they need to make Mom and Dad assemble for a home emergency kit, and map out their response in case of regular explosion, nuclear or radioactive explosion, or chemical or biological warfare. They can play disaster-related games and quizzes, get a certficate for being a Disaster Action Kid, and read the story of Herman, the FEMA spokescrab, as he seeks a disaster-proof shell.

Oh, it's all positively empowering, and will give your kids plenty of things to lie awake at night worrying about. It made me feel like chewing my nails, anyway. Maybe kids today are cooler about this stuff. Is that a good thing?

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