The flowers and the candles are here to protect us.
November 18, 2015 7:16 AM   Subscribe

In the aftermath of the attack in Paris, a small boy & his father are interviewed. Together they remind us that even in the darkest hour there is light and hope.
posted by scalefree (28 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
That guy is really nailing the being a father thing.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:17 AM on November 18, 2015 [33 favorites]


Related: How to Talk to Children About Terrorism [New York Times]
French newspapers and TV shows have done stories and special issues on how to talk to kids about the attacks. I’ve been reading them avidly. Their advice springs straight from Françoise Dolto, the influential psychoanalyst who was the French equivalent of Dr. Spock: Be honest.

Beginning in 1976, Dr. Dolto did a daily 10-minute radio show in which she responded to letters from parents. One of her recurring messages was that kids don’t need to be constantly happy; they need to understand what’s going on around them. Even in tough times, parents should tell them the truth — often in simple terms — and help them process it. It’s far worse if kids sense that something’s wrong, but no one talks to them about it.
posted by Fizz at 7:20 AM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, that dad made ME feel better, too.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:21 AM on November 18, 2015 [20 favorites]


Can that dad talk to policy-makers in his country and mine (USA)? I think we could all use a bit of a refocusing on the proper response to this kind of violence.
posted by cubby at 7:23 AM on November 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


I loved how patient the interviewer was.
posted by amanda at 7:31 AM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


I dunno. That kid doesn't look too hopeful. They way I see it he's looking over at the breastworks of flowers and candles and asking "The flowers and the candles are here to protect us?"

He's giving it a skeptical look like "But flowers don't do anything. Yo, don't we need sandbags and machine-guns?"

I like how the dad is trying to be reassuring, but this kid has a fine sense of the tactical situation and isn't buying any hippie talk about the power of flowers.
posted by three blind mice at 7:37 AM on November 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I like how the dad is trying to be reassuring, but this kid has a fine sense of the tactical situation and isn't buying any hippie talk about the power of flowers.

Yup, this is exactly why when someone hurts me, I always make sure to double escalate and make them pay. A shove on the street? I punch them back in the face. A friend said a mean comment? I'm DOUBLE MEAN.

For some reason, the number of people who are assholes to me keeps on increasing, though. The world is just full of hostile people. (shakes head)
posted by suedehead at 7:43 AM on November 18, 2015 [22 favorites]


A special kids’ edition of the newspaper Libération explained that “what happened is very sad and very difficult, attacks are still very rare. But for now, we cannot say there won’t be more.”

Here's that coverage for kids in Libération that I posted over in the main Paris thread.

Children “don’t live on planet Mars,” said François Dufour, editor in chief of Le Petit Quotidien and two other daily French newspapers, for kids ages 6 to 17

I'd venture they're particularly plugged in to current events in a country that has this many daily papers for kids aged 6 to 17.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:47 AM on November 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


GODDAMMIT now I have feelings.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:06 AM on November 18, 2015


[Couple comments removed. It's okay to not be into a post, but keep the metacommentary to metatalk.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:09 AM on November 18, 2015


Daily newspapers for kids? Why is this not a thing over here?! How awesome!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:23 AM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have watched this several times over the last couple of days, and I love it every time.

I have had conversations with people who think this kind of talk is just naive, and dammit we just have to be realistic and face the ugly truth that violence can only be dealt with by violence. I remember going through the same thing after 9/11, with people patronizing me and thinking I'm naive to believe that violence only begets violence.

Hey, guess what. Everything we did after 9/11 has only increased the violence.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:25 AM on November 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


three blind mice: "but this kid has a fine sense of the tactical situation and isn't buying any hippie talk about the power of flowers."

He starts off tense and worried. By the end, he is smiling ... I think he bought the "hippie" talk.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 8:27 AM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is touching. I think that the father is right. Those flowers are symbols of love, humanity -- the things that do protect us and keep us from being destroyed by horror. Even terrible people doing terrible things don't have to make us terrible.

The father is teaching his son about resilience. It's a valuable lesson for adults, too (including me).
posted by rue72 at 8:41 AM on November 18, 2015 [37 favorites]


I also thought it was adorable...and sad, because flowers and candles don't protect anyone. They do help people feel better, but safety is more complicated than feeling better. For his age, this is probably the best this kid could know.
posted by agregoli at 8:47 AM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


safety is more complicated than feeling better

In a time when it's trivially easy to obtain firearms and explosives, each person's safety relies primarily on everyone else feeling better.
posted by Etrigan at 8:54 AM on November 18, 2015 [38 favorites]


Parent here. Flowers and candles are exactly the sort of tools that help a kid at that age. You have to walk this fine line of concrete help and accessible imagery or some will fall down a hall of mirrors of obsessing on "bad people" and what they can do. And there you are at 1AM barely comforting them as they make plans for the entire city to be burned to the ground and what if the bad people come.

Like I said: fine line.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:55 AM on November 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


I get it, no need to explain it to me. I still found it sad and inadequate.
posted by agregoli at 8:59 AM on November 18, 2015


"...safety is more complicated than feeling better."
Safety is not. Safety does not be.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:08 AM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


An insight from the person who subtitled the video: "Flowers are a metaphor for the acts of kindness, love and support that need to be encouraged in our everyday lives. That also includes educating the people who might express intolerant responses."

As adults, we know, and I think the child knows instinctively that flowers and candles will not literally stop violence and bullets. But that's not the understanding that's taking place. You see it in the child's face -- the realization that so many people are laying down flowers and candles, as his father's reassuring voice explains in briefest terms what they represent. And the child (as well as the viewer) makes the connection that caring and goodness is still present all around us, even as there are bad people who exist in the world. It's a message that both reassures at the child's level and at the adult's level.

I don't see the father being unrealistic here; he does point out that there are bad guys everywhere. This seems like a textbook example of how to discuss scary real world events in an age appropriate fashion. It demonstrates in real time the sentiment behind the Mr. Rogers "helpers" quote, one that is resonant for many people.
posted by orbit-3 at 9:39 AM on November 18, 2015 [20 favorites]


That Mr. Rogers quote being this (from a parent resources page detailing how to talk to children about tragic events):

"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."
posted by orbit-3 at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


That guy is really nailing the being a father thing.

Yes. But I hate that you can hear his heart break when he has to tell his son that bad guys are everywhere.
posted by donnagirl at 10:46 AM on November 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


The state of being: safe--that doesn't exist. The feeling does exist. It has to, so that we can sleep and eat and walk around and go to work and stuff. Some people feel safe if they have weapons, some people feel safe if they have candles and flowers and see other people with candles and flowers.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:46 AM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I first saw this at work, with the sound off. Man, it is heart-breaking to hear the tone of voice of both father and son.
Did the interviewer stay on a bit too long for comfort?
posted by mumimor at 12:41 PM on November 18, 2015


I liked that interviewer persisted... It allowed the kid to voice himself and allowed the parent to respond.

Its tough, as it is, verbalizing our fears and it might be a bit uncomfortable to hear ppl nudged into voicing their fears but, sometimes, its good to be gently coaxed into communicating them to others.

In this case, everyone was better off after the conversation.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 1:58 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I also don't think the kid really bought the whole line but dad did an amazing job of moving him away from, "Now we have to run away!". I think I love the French.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


He's giving it a skeptical look like "But flowers don't do anything. Yo, don't we need sandbags and machine-guns?"

I like how the dad is trying to be reassuring, but this kid has a fine sense of the tactical situation and isn't buying any hippie talk about the power of flowers.


Ok damn that made me laugh, it's true the kid looks so skeptical at first it's almost comic... But to be fair to the father, he said "there are bad guys everywhere" and that is a brave truth to tell a 5 year old in this situation.

After that, you either go full existentialist mode and add "and that's it, that's the only non-consolation you get now, kid, remind me to quote Sartre to you when you're old enough" or, you could try epic-fantasy mode with "no worry kid, our President said we're at war and we're going to destroy aaaall the bad guys and nothing like this will ever ever happen again, plus we have dragons"... Or, you could look around and mention what people are doing, bringing flowers and candles and grieving together, look at that.

When the dad says "the candles are not to forget the people who are gone", the kid looks around and then smiles. Maybe he's more reassured by his father's soothing voice and smile and the promise they won't have to move and that "our home is France". Those alone are meaningful things to say to a child in a situation like this.

Either way, I don't think a lot of dads could do better than that with a camera and a mic pointed at them in front of a memorial for victims of a terror attack.

Here's that coverage for kids in Libération that I posted over in the main Paris thread.

That is a fantastic explainer for kids. And not just for kids....
"Ce qui est le plus utile pour ne pas laisser gagner les terroristes, c’est de continuer à vivre normalement."
posted by bitteschoen at 2:50 PM on November 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


The dad is absolutely correct. The flowers and candles do protect us - from living in terror, from focusing only on the sad and horrible things that happen, from viewing the world through a haze of mistrust and anger.
posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 3:00 PM on November 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


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