You Are Safe and the World Is Good: Four Free Stories
Growing up in the Northcountry of New York State, my friends and I equated Orlando, Florida with Kid Heaven. We imagined warm weather, blue skies, white beaches, and, of course, Disney World. Orlando was Fun. Orlando was Good. Orlando was Safe.
In the last few days, however, Orlando has joined a tragic list that includes Newtown, Virginia Tech, Charleston, and San Bernardino – names that can now tighten our stomachs and lower our gaze.
While we learn the details of the Orlando nightclub shooting on Sunday, we adults think about gun violence, mental illness, politics, terrorism, and extremism. We mourn, we rage, we give, we worry and, of course, our children are watching us. They can feel that something is not right. They can sense that something has happened. And for older children, they will see and hear details that could be very confusing.
If they are like my children, they will ask questions, they will want to know what happened, and they will demand explanations. But one thing I have learned about my two boys is that all they really want to know are two things:
They are Safe.
The World is Good.
If I can assure them that they are safe and the world is good, then they won’t need to know how many people died, who the shooter was and what was his motivation. They will know that I am there for them, that all the adults they know and love will protect them, and that even though the world contains great pain, it is good. It is deeply good.
So that is what happened this morning. On the way to their two summer camps, we talked about Orlando. I told them that the subject would probably come up. I told them that people were killed and that we don’t know all the information yet to know about why it happened. I told them that people around the world are sending love and healing prayers to Orlando. I also told them that they did not need to listen to other people’s opinions if they didn’t want to. Because people will have opinions.
My boys are 14 and 11 so I can give them information and reassurances, but they also have heard many stories that help them feel safe and reassure them that the world is good. I want this for them because the truth is – right now – they are safe. And I deeply know that though there is great pain, the world is good.
Here are some stories that can help - and how you can use them:
This story can help make sense when there are sudden tragic events and motivations are unclear. It replaces the need to know “why” with the assurance that the adults will do everything they can to make things right
This story is about a young girl named Lee, who loves her little black dog Prince. But one day, Prince is suddenly killed by a speeding car. The girl not only has to come to grips with the abrupt loss of her dog, but she also manages questions like “Who was it? Why didn’t they stop? How could they do it?”. And the ultimate message from her loving parents is this: We love you. It is OK to be sad. We are holding you. And we will do everything we can to prevent this from happening again.
“Denny and the Could Bee”
This story can help reassure children that wonder if dangerous things could happen to them or to people they love.
“Denny and the Could Bee” is all about the insidious nature of imagining what “could” happen. Rumors, exaggerations, fearful stories, and even simple wonderings have “Could Bees” buzzing around in them. Luckily Mr. James, Denny’s kindergarten teacher, has a way of shooing those Could Bees away and allowing the truth of the matter to become clear.
This story is from the Helping & Healing Toolbelt.
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This is a story that transforms fear and worry about safety and wellbeing into an impulse to help.
It is a short story about Dennis, a happy little six year old boy who wakes one morning to see his mother listening to the radio in the kitchen. She turns it off, but Dennis can tell that something is wrong and that his mother is feeling sad – and maybe a little scared. She explains that something happened, a big storm moved through a town, and buildings were damaged and people were hurt. When she sees that this is making him feel nervous, she scoops him up and tells him,
“I know that when something like this happens – when there are very strong winds or other kinds of storms – people around the world will know about it. And do you know what they do when they find out? They will help.”
She then told him about how all the people on their street, in their neighborhood and in their town that want to make sure that he, Dennis, is safe.
“But you know what, Dennis?” his Mother asked, raising her eyebrows, “It is time for us to be the helpers. There are people that are feeling scared right now because a storm came to their house. Our house is fine and so are we. Are you ready to be a helper?”
"Someone Else’s Dragon"
News and gossip give us a great many things to fear. This story helps us shed fears that are not ours and are not a part of our daily life.
The people of Solvei’s village have a yearly festival that marks the end of the growing season and the beginning of the dark time. In this joyful celebration, the villagers dress as dragons that represent the things they fear. Solvei is too young to attend, but is so excited that she sneaks a peek on the night of the festival — and comes home with many different fears from the “dragons” that she saw there. Her mother explains that she has taken on ‘someone else’s dragon’ and then helps her daughter give the fears back so she can fall peacefully asleep.
Lastly, in my experience, stories can be much more effective than explanations. I don’t think you need to follow up with a discussion or make analogies with stories - just let them sink in and become a part of your child’s picture of a safe, good world.
These stories have no Sparkle advertisement – only a short copyright tag at the end. They are intended as a gift to support families who may find it useful.
Feel free to download and share or email these stories as often as you’d like. We give permission for them to be shared freely.
About the Author
David Sewell McCann
David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.