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Explaining Ray Rice to My 6-Year-Old

03/05/2014 04:00 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2014
Dan Kenyon via Getty Images

When your house is a 30-minute drive away from your kid's school, you can complain about the commute, or you can cherish the opportunity to spend time with the kids. I do both. The drive is rarely an easy one -- I've never driven on I-83 in the rain without seeing a wrecked car after an accident, and between the aggressive drivers and the even more aggressive deer, I feel like the occasional complaint is justifiable. On the other hand, there's no better time to talk to your kids than when they're stuck behind you in the car. That's when you can really have a conversation, instead of the usual, "How was school?" -- "Good. Can I play the Wii now?"

So I've been using the opportunity to chat with my very curious 6-year-old boy, answering every question he's had about anything, or at least saying, "We'll research it when we get back home!" We talked about gay marriage when he started seeing Question 6 signs everywhere, and we talked about Jesus after he heard the name in school, and we talked about Muhammad because he wanted more examples of similar people, and from there we moved on to the rabbit hole of Israel and Palestine... You know the young kids who ask "Why?" all the time, and whenever you give them an answer, they just retaliate with another "Why?" and you think it's all just a phase? Well, sometimes the topics and the questions just get more interesting as the kids get older.

But this time, it was up to me to start the conversation.

I've postponed this talk for a few days, but I didn't want to wait anymore, because I didn't want the details to come out from my boy's kindergarten friends. Stuff like that has to come from a parent. The car ride on the way to school was the right place, and the time was now.

"Remember yesterday, when you wanted to wear your Ray Rice shirt, and I said you couldn't, and you asked me why, and I told you I'd explain later, but I didn't?

"No."

"Well, it happened. And I need to explain why I didn't let you wear his shirt. Ray Rice was arrested a few days ago. He was arguing with his friend, and maybe they hit each other, so they were both arrested, but it could be that he hit her so hard that she fainted. Now, we don't know everything that happened yet. Maybe she hit him, and he tried to push her away to make her stop or something, but because he's a strong football player, she fell and fainted. I hope that's what happened. But if we find out that he just hit her, then we can't be his fans anymore, and probably the Ravens won't want him on the team anymore."

"Because they're afraid he'll hit them too?"

"Hmm... No. Because they don't want people who hit other people on their team. So now we wait to see what happened, and the Ravens are waiting too. But until we're sure he didn't hit her, we can't be his fans and wear his shirts anymore."

So my boy is quiet for a while, and then, I kid you not, these are his exact words:

"But remember Ray Lewis -- he was in the Ravens last year? He didn't do anything bad, did he?"

Oy... We're gonna need a longer car ride...