My daughter will not see news coverage of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. She will not hear it on the radio, see it on the Internet, or catch any conversation about it in our home. The television has been off since Friday morning, and it will stay that way, for at least a few more days.
Angie is six years old, far too young to see images of children her own age being led by teachers and policemen out of the classroom - some shielding their eyes, others screaming in what must be the purest form of terror.
I don't want her to see photographs of federal agents wearing bulletproof vests, of mothers crying into their cell phones, or fathers searching the crowd for their sons and daughters.
Most especially, I cannot let her see the faces of the youngest victims, their names as sweet and soft on the tongue as her own. Olivia. Emily. Madeleine. Jessica. Caroline. Grace.
I can't let her hear any that. Not now. Not yet.
Angie and I watch the news together all the time. I often explain social issues in terms she can understand. She knows that taxes pay for schools and roads. She understands how we vote for president and why we make laws.
Last week, I told her about the shooting at the shopping mall in Portland, Oregon. We were having dinner at the time. Macaroni and cheese. Turkey hot dogs. Strawberry milk. She asked why someone would do such a thing. I had no answer.
We never seem to have the answers, do we? Not the ones that matter anyway.
There are plenty of good reasons for parents to tell their children about this tragedy, the biggest of which being that it is, most likely, going to happen again. Some day. Some place. I wish that weren't true, but I'm afraid it is.
Some parents are going to tell their children to run away, or to hide in the corner of the classroom. They will implore their kids to lock the door, turn out the lights, be still and quiet. Look for the grownups who are helping people, they'll say. Go to them. Ask them to help you too.
Maybe that's the right thing to do. It seems sensible. It seems practical and wise.
But I just can't do it. I cannot look into my daughter's blue eyes and tell her that sometimes strangers walk into elementary schools and shoot children, shoot teachers and principals.
Maybe I'm trying to protect her from an unthinkable tragedy. Perhaps I'm trying to erase it from my own mind. Unfortunately, I can't do either of those things. They are wholly, mercilessly impossible. I can't shield Angie forever, and I can't get the images out of my head. The world is scary, violent and tragic. It is irrational. It defies reason. It hurts, it heals, and it hurts again.
I know I'll have to tell her all of this one day. But not now. Not today. Today, we will drink strawberry milk.