Today’s news: She reads the paper — beware of what you wish for

Certainly I’ve been accused of being a Luddite when it comes to modern communications technology. I prefer to think of it as old-fashioned — a choice I make. That’s why it’s been a source of pride to me that our 7-year-old old has picked up on my interest (devotion?) to reading a printed newspaper. Every time she reaches for the comics, or I see her reading closely, I puff up my chest a bit.

(Disclosure: Ink will forever run in my veins. My first and favorite job for nearly 20 years — career — was as a print journalist.)

Of course, the humor of what we call the “comics” is generally lost on a 7-year-old unfortunately. It’s pretty much Charlie Brown and Garfield. Makes me wonder, though — are the people who put together newspaper comics pages trying to retain the interest of a diminishing demographic? (Dennis the Menace? Beetle Bailey? Blondie?) Or are the comics seeking new readers who will stick with the strip even when it’s available only on-line? (Pears Before Swine — by far and away the best thing going.)

Now I’ve gone way off track (big surprise).

Daughter comes into the kitchen Tuesday morning, carrying the front section of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Under the bold headline “A search for answers” is an overhead view of the private jet that crashed late Saturday night, killing all aboard. It’s a flattened, burned bug smear on the Earth’s windshield, recognizable that it was once a plane only by the cone-shaped pilots’ section at the front.

The paper is loaded with crash coverage, with lots of space devoted to the loss of local philanthropist and nice guy Lewis Katz.

Daughter stands in the kitchen. Lunches are being made and packed.

She starts reading the headlines.

Then she reads the main story aloud: “wreckage of the private jet that crashed here upon takeoff, killing Lewis Katz and six other people …”

I snatch the section.

But the questions begin anyway.

Why do planes crash? Do many planes crash?

Daughter and her mother have been flying to Florida for years to visit the in-laws. Daughter’s a true road warrior, starting at age 6 months, with many air miles logged. The next trip is in two weeks.

This is the first time anything like this has ever come up.

My quick answers:

  • This was a small plane, not like the big planes you fly on.
  • Thousands and thousands of flights take off and land safely every day.

Not enough info, Dad.

“Did anybody die?” (Guess “killing” whizzed by.)

“Uh, let’s just say they didn’t do real well.”

Quick change of subject. Something’s happening in school today, right?

I know this will come up again.

Why do we teach them to read? Ha ha.

Why do we teach them to read newspapers? She’s never seen TV news.

Note to self: Monitor my habit of leaving the newspaper laying around. She’s expanded her interest beyond the comics, and sees me reading it every day.

I recently came off a financially imposed hiatus (no pay, no paper). I really missed having the paper waiting for me before 6 a.m. every day.

Making the best of it, I thought maybe it could be a trial run (run away?), to see if I could survive without regular newsprint.

No. Not yet. It’s likely not ever.

I’ll think about giving up my newspaper — somewhere around the time I tell my daughter about the day my flight was forced to land because the plane caught fire.



(Happy birthday, Doug.)

One thought on “Today’s news: She reads the paper — beware of what you wish for

  1. It is so hard, trying to decide how long to prolong the innocence of a child. At some point, they learn that there is no Santa, that terrorism and plane crashes and serial killers exist, that hard work doesn’t always lead to success or reward or even a thank you, and on and on and on. And they have to learn it. But when? My rule for myself was to talk openly whenever the boy asked. So he learned about sex in preschool and death around the same time. He seems to be well adjusted. But it was difficult, because there was a part of me that wanted to continue the fantasy — the nothing bad ever happens to anyone fantasy. It’s such a beautiful fantasy, isn’t it?

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