If you live in L.A. you’ll probably hear about it on the news tonight. She was stabbed at home by an ex-boyfriend who then set himself on fire in his car. It doesn’t sound like he will survive.
We haven’t told my daughter yet. We got the news from the school while the kids were taking their baths and it seemed like it was too close to bedtime to start a big discussion. Grief counselors will be at the school tomorrow and they’re having a meeting in the auditorium after drop-off for the parents. We’ve been told to expect a “media presence” at the school tomorrow and to prepare accordingly.
Any suggestions for how to talk to our daughter about this? Miss Dasaro hadn’t been her teacher for long – only since the end of the holiday break. (She had come in to replace the regular teacher who is going on maternity leave.) But my daughter is imaginative and sensitive and we’re anticipating that she’ll find it unsettling. BTW, we’re atheists, so if you have any advice please keep it secular in nature.
Poor Miss Dasaro. I was out of town last week and my wife did drop off so I didn’t even get to meet her. According to my wife she seemed like a very sweet person. What a horrible thing to have happen.
Ask her to be open with her friends, and to talk about things with them, or with school counselors, in addition to you as her parents. The support of loved ones is what she’ll need to get through this.
I agree that the truth is best, as she will find that out quickly, and it would be better for her to hear the whole story from someone she trusts. I would emphasize how extraordinary the circumstances are, yet that sometimes very bad things happen to very good people.
Very well said.
This is the difficult part. I have a nephew who was close to that age when my mom passed away. It can be difficult to judge just how much a child comprehends about an event like this. The best thing is listen and answer their questions honestly. I am atheist myself also, and I found the best way to work through grief is to remember the good works they did while they were here. Help your daughter to remember the good times with her teacher.
Yes, and given the wrong information so that they are made a fool of themselves infront of everyone, causing shame and complete humiliation. Thus, driving these children to be recluses who live via the internet and never reproduce.
Back to reality, glazing over the stabbing part and ‘he set himself on fire’ segment, I would suggest spinning this horrid story like:
An ex boyfriend did something very wrong and very horrible to your teacher. Something bad happened and he took her life and in the end, his own. She is dead.
He was very angry and very confused and tried to control her with violence. Nothing good ever comes from that, ever. He didn’t use his words and he didn’t listen to your teacher when she told him to leave her alone. He wasn’t respectful of her feelings and her words…blah blah Kindergartenspeak blah…Bad things sometimes happen to good people, we wish it wouldn’t happen but sometimes they do. But you are safe, protected and loved. Your teacher was a nice lady who really enjoyed working with you and your friends…
I suggest art therapy for her to draw how she feels out and maybe for her to draw a picture for her teacher’s parents/family.
This kinda thing never happened on Little House on the Prairie.
That’s a hideous story. There’s no good way to tell a little kid what happened. She will undoubtedly ask how he killed her, and I think you should be straight with her because she’ll hear it somewhere else anyway. You can lighten up on the gore as much as possible, but the basics will have to be included. I don’t want to be in your shoes!
Reinforce that she’s safe with you and hope for the best. I’m sure the experts coming to the school will offer the parents some tips as well. Take advantage of whatever they offer. They’re the ones with experience.
I don’t think there’s any way you’ll be able to gloss over the stabbing aspect without lying; even if you just say ‘she died’ or ‘he took her life’, any kid is going to ask about how it happened.
I think you can safely just leave out the bit about him setting himself on fire, but it wouldn’t be lying to say that the police caught him and they will make sure he doesn’t do this to anyone else (which is going to be a legitimate concern in the minds of many of the kids).
Trouble is that no matter how sensitively and selectively you broach the subject, other parents are likely to divulge other bits of information and the kids are going to share them amongst themselves. This might be a case where the horrible truth, carefully applied, is better than a bunch of misinformed speculation and rumour.
I’d probably include in their somewhere that her real teacher is fine, baby’s doing great, etc. A little positive news and refocusing of attention won’t hurt, what with such an awful negative.
Wish people like flameboy would commit suicide first and then do their nefarious deeds. Can’t say I agree much with his sense of priority.
I think, after you tell her what happened - a person did Bad Things to her teacher and now they’re both dead - the most important thing to do is reassure her that she is safe. Because I think that’s the big fear in a kid that age, that if a bad thing happened to that person, what’s to stop it from happening to her or her mommy and daddy? I’m not a parent, so I wouldn’t know how to reassure a child that young, but I’d think that she, personally, will somehow need to be told that she is safe even if there are bad people and bad things out there. Certainly, reassure her that there is no way this man can ever hurt anyone ever again.
Encourage her to talk to you about any thoughts or fear she might have, no matter how silly they may seem.
But I agree - she needs to hear the truth (in terms appropriate for her age and understanding) from her parents. You might want to warn her that some other people will tell stories of dubuious veracity (although you might want to use a different phrase than that) and introduce the concept of “rumor”.
Absolutely. The only thing that will be going on there today is a media onslaught, and the meeting makinh you aware of counseling. That will still be there in a day or two once the media leaves the school. On top of everything else she’ll have to process, the vultures in the press don’t need to be part of the equation.
This probably seems obvious, but be around and avaliable. Keep her in the room with you, make sure she feels safe. If she wants something, (just for a while) get up straight away and go help her. You need to make sure she knows you aren’t going anywhere, too.
I agree with the others here who have suggested you keep her home today. Additionally, you can call the school and talk to one of the greif counselors over the phone about how you should break this to your child. You don’t physically have to be at the school today to ask them for help.
Another vote for keeping her home, for a few days if necessary. Wait for the local media to become interested in another sensational story and they should basically go away. The situation to avoid is your daughter becoming “b-roll” – the video TV stations use repeatedly when doing follow-up stories. That stuff could keep showing up for years.
Wow - how absolutely horrible. I’m sorry for everyone involved
Unfortunately, school is probably the biggest gossip-grapevine in the world. I suspect your daughter will hear all of the gory details (many true, and many complete fabrications) in the coming weeks. That said, I would tell my own kids the truth, as detail-free as possible, and invite them to tell me anything they hear about it from their friends.
As with others, I would keep my own kids home for a few days, at least until the “media presence” had dispersed. The soulless ghouls we call “journalists” will be aching to “interview” some poor sobbing kid crying their eyeballs out.